Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that we all have the right to education. What does honoring that right mean to you? Better training or salaries for teachers? Access to schooling for girls in others countries? Less focus on testing? Bilingual classrooms? Free university education?
Whatever your educational priorities are, chances are that bringing about needed changes will involve government action at some level. Our campers today had the opportunity to hear two stories about advocating for better and safer education by appealing to those who make the rules. Andre Fields joined us to tell how as a teen, he organized an effort to lobby his local school board for better textbooks for his predominantly African American high school. That success propelled him into the political arena as an adult. After working as a special assistant to Stacey Abrams, he is now the political director of Fair Fight, promoting voting justice throughout the state. Ariel Harper and Nurah Abdul were our two other guests. As statewide leaders for March for Our Lives Georgia, they are deeply involved in advocacy efforts to make Georgia schools safer so that students can better take advantage of their right to education.
After meeting Andre, Nurah, and Ariel and hearing their stories, campers divided into two groups, legislators and activists. Legislators met with Andre for a discussion about how a proposal about education or anything else makes its way through the legislative process to become law.
Nurah and Ariel met with the activists and explained different strategies they could use to convince legislators to protect students by enacting stricter gun laws.
After lunch, legislators held a press conference and outlined specific points to the bill. Activists were ready with chants and challenges, and worked to sway the legislators to their position. They must have been convincing, because when the vote came, the bill passed unanimously! Governor Elizabeth wisely decided not to veto, and a legislative victory for the right to a safe education was celebrated!
Honoring the right to education can take many, many forms, but it was Peacebuilders’ honor today to educate our campers about their own power to make a difference through the legislative process. We can’t wait to see what these engaged young people will accomplish as they advocate for their own rights and others’ rights in the future!