Empower Our Children

By Shelby Reilly


It’s easy to discount oneself. To look at goals and aspirations and put a time stamp on it, to say “well I’m just too young for that.” We’re in an exciting time in innovation where children can create their own businesses, they can win esteemed awards, they can be the youngest published author in the United States, even.  In a world where technology is readily available and children, students, can reach their goals at such young ages is unprecedented. What matters is that we create the environments for the children of the world to be as creative, ambitious, intelligent, and capable as they can be. This requires education, this requires reading. If more children in this world had the access to education that is offered in developed countries, think of the steps we could take as a whole. The discoveries we could make, the art we could create. Through your support, we can change the world.

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Agenda 2030 and Education

By Christina Ude

For 15 years, the world community has worked to achieve a comprehensive set of goals and targets called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were launched in 2000 to tackle poverty, economic and environment inequity, and strategies for effective development. The MDGs concluded last year,2015 and a new set of goals that replaced them went into effect January 1st, 2016.
These new objectives – The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are an intergovernmental set of aspiration Goals with 169 targets.

On 25 September 2015, a new global agenda to end poverty around the globe by 2030 and pursue a sustainable future were unanimously adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations at the start of a three-day Summit on Sustainable Development. The historic adoption of the new Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs ) with 17 global goals at its core, was met with a phenomenal standing ovation from delegations that included more than 150 world leaders who addressed the Summit over the course of three days. Nigeria’s president, President Muhammad Buhari was there to represent our great nation. Our President spoke at the UN assembly on how to help tackle widespread poverty and corruption in Nigeria. I was pleased to listen to his speech because corruption has crippled our nation for many years.

Figure A below  is a list of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each goal is accompanied by specific targets and measured by specific indicators. Individual governments will have to set their own specific national targets based on their own priorities and circumstances in their respective countries including Nigeria.

Figure A

The SDGs cover a lot of ground, including changing unsustainable (and promoting sustainable) patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing our natural resource base.
Readers should look at the comprehensive list of goals and the more detailed set of targets, but for those especially interested in the subject of Education, there is a subset of goals and targets. This summary lists those by Goal and Targets related to quality education. Education fits into the other 16 goals because it can provide life-saving information – including how people can protect themselves from sexual abuse, protect our planet, health education, landmine awareness, hand-washing and other survival skills necessary in the specific context. But it can also give the hope of a good future and give them an alternative to such practices as child labor, early and child marriage.

Education, as mentioned in 3 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 3, Goal 8 and Goal 13. See below:

Goal 3
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs

Goal 4 Targets

Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes
  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education
  • By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
  • By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
  • By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
  • By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
  • Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
  • By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrollment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programs, in developed countries and other developing countries
  • By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states

Goal 8

Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

  • By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training

Goal 13

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

  • Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning

In conclusion, I strongly believe that education is key to all of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It is imperative that we achieve Goal 4 of the SDGs in Nigeria. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” I agree that it is a powerful weapon to change the world and also a force for social change.

Follow Christina Ude on Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamxtynah

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RH Power Girl Spotlight: Misan Rewane, CEO of WAVE Academy

By Onyedikachi Achilike


The RH Power Girl series showcases thought leaders within the literacy, education advocacy, female and youth empowerment space. Today we spotlight Misan Rewane, the CEO of West Africa Vocational Education-WAVE Academy. WAVE tackles youth unemployment by screening, training, and placing local West African youth in hospitality and retail jobs within the region. A Sanford and Harvard trained Economist, Misan is passionate about improving the lives of young people in Africa.

Great to have you Misan! Can you tell us what growing up and schooling in Nigeria were like?

Growing up in Nigeria in the 80’s was great. I was the eager student who always looked forward to going to school. My teachers had such a positive impact on me, so much so that I initially wanted to be a teacher.

I went to an all-girls high school, The Lagoon Secondary School in Lagos. My time at Lagoon was truly amazing. The atmosphere there was competitive yet friendly, innovative and collaborative. There was a combined focus on quality education and character building, which gave us a holistic and unique experience. My class was the first set of students to graduate so I guess you can say we were the guinea pigs. I think in most childhood experiences your input does not matter. Children are always taught to be silent and let the adults take charge but here, our opinions and input mattered. As I look back, I see that we were instrumental in creating the school’s culture.

Being in an all-girls school was empowering because gender posed no limitation on anything, be it sports, activities, or even male character roles in school plays, we pretty much did it all. Growing up in this context framed my personality and who I am today, because although I am aware of societal perceptions on gender, I don’t think or act in a gendered lens.

As I moved onto post-secondary education and career goals, I knew that I wanted to further the study of Economics. I spent 2 years in the UK for A-levels, and then went on to Stanford to complete a Bachelors in Economics. Some of my highlights at Stanford were two semesters spent abroad-one in Paris and the other at Oxford. While in school and even now, I am constantly working through the question of, “how do I maximize my happiness with all the unlimited wants and limited resources that I have? I find this question relevant across the world: everyone wants more than what they have, and life is all about prioritizing so that you get the maximum outcome.

Given your global educational experience, what are some of the key challenges you find with the education system in Nigeria and Africa as a whole? How can we improve our literacy rates.

I marvel at how the education system has decayed in my short lifetime. We lack quality teachers; there is too much focus on theoretical learning; and our curriculum is not accommodating to all.

One of my favorite quotes right now is: no nation can rise above its education level…no nation can rise above the level of its teachers.

We now have the generation of teachers who have gone through the bad school system. You have literacy and numeracy being taught by individuals who are still struggling with these subjects. So I think the challenge is: how do we reeducate our teachers and change the orientation on who should be one? Back when I wanted to be a teacher my dad said, “you will be poor and unappreciated”. Unfortunately, many Nigerians echo his line of thinking and frankly nobody wants to be unappreciated. So this mindset has to be changed, and it can only happen when we set new standards for who is to be an educator. Currently, the teacher is the student at the bottom of the class who couldn’t get into other programs and ends up going to the college of teaching schools, which is just not for the brightest kids.

Another issue with our school system is the lack of career counseling given to students. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are not taught. We essentially have this crippling system whereby students memorize and regurgitate information to get good grades and there is just more to life than getting A’s. They are not prepared for real-time jobs; students are essentially learning in a vacuum and receive no real exposure. People often think that quality education is one that exposes children by taking them abroad; I disagree and retort that exposure is a state of mind completely independent of location. Creating intellectual curiosity in young people through play should be encouraged, as it can be a way to coach them through self and career path discovery.

In highlighting some of these issues, I am optimistic that over time with the right leadership, these challenges will be addressed and literacy rates will mirror progress.

You started WAVE in 2013, what inspired this venture?

While in Business school, I met fellow West Africans who were passionate about alleviating the many challenges young people on the continent face. We got together at the Harvard innovation lab and started white boarding ideas. We knew that whatever we came up with had to be linked to job creation and giving people higher income.

WAVE was birthed out of this dialogue and made the second year of business school zoom by so fast. All my courses came alive because I now had a practical idea I could use as a lens in everything I was learning: marketing, accounting, finance, you name it! I went back to Nigeria twice that year. I applied for funding that enabled me to test the viability of this idea with potential clients: companies and job seekers. From this trial I was able to glean attributes that matured the idea. I then came back to the states and applied for the Harvard new venture competition in April. We were the runner-up for the social enterprise track and armed with seed funding from this competition, I decided I was going to move back to Nigeria and give the idea a shot. “To whom much is given, much is expected”. I just had to do it.

So the model end-to-end is that we get young people ready to work and connect them to entry-level jobs. We identify self-motivated, willing to learn, hardworking individuals and train them in communication skills, emotional intelligence, and other soft skills. Everything that we are doing is centered on connecting them to partners in our network. We train them with an eye to the hospitality and retail sectors, particular honing in on how to manage a customer experience.

We started with a pilot of 12 students in a classroom, the first 9 got jobs within 1-2 months. We reported these results to some foundations that were interested in our work, and 6 months into my time in Nigeria, I was able to hire staff and give myself a salary with funding from these foundations.

Impressive! What is the future trajectory of WAVE, can you share some of your plans for this year?

We have a learning by doing culture here at WAVE, and we are all about using this learning to build a replicable model that is globally functional. We want to show the world how to screen young people for their inabilities; how to train them on soft skills and make them work ready; how to connect them with jobs; we also want to encourage employers to change the paradigms around how they hire.

Our immediate focus is to expand throughout Lagos and nationally and eventually in other countries.

Delving into a more broad yet prevalent topic: Young African girls are often detracted from education and coerced into early marriage, prostitution, and the like, what advice would you give to them and girls in general?

That’s a tough one. I will go with a Steve Jobs quote on this one: don’t let the noise of other opinions drown out your inner voice. Take time to find what you are good at and passionate about, what matters, something that you can turn into a vocation, the intersection of all these is your purpose. Protect and guard your purpose as hard as you can because the world will try to sell you easier-to-accomplish dreams, telling you to lower your standards. Never settle and hold yourself to high standards, the only person that can limit you in life is yourself. So in short, you must find your purpose, guard it, never settle, and make it a reality.

When you do become successful by the world’s standards, refuse your own success and continue to push yourself. Find that balance of being humble in all your accomplishments but also refusing your own success, let that refusal be what pushes you forward to wake up every morning and bring your best.

Who is your role model and why?

I find role models in real life-your everyday hardworking people. I look up to people like my mother and sister. My mom worked all her life, but would always come home and make a meal. She showed me that being a woman is tough, but you still have to bring your A game both at work and at home.

I look up to my sister who has lived and worked all over the world and others like her who constantly push beyond their comfort zone.

Lastly, because we are such bookworms here, what were some of your favorite novels growing up and what are you currently reading?

Currently- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Favorite books-Yoruba Girl Dancing and Not With Silver both by Simi Bedford.

It has been such a pleasure speaking with you Misan, is there anything else you’d like to add?

This has been fun, I am excited about what Reading Hamlets is doing in the literacy space, and I hope someone reads this interview and gets thinking and doing!

Follow WAVE:

Website: http://waveacademies.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/waveacademies

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WestAfricaVocationalEducationWave





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Education And The Key To Success

Girls Reading

Education And The Key To Success

By Adina Bernstein

In most, if not all first world countries, a girl is expected to go to school. Many parents, upon hearing that they will have a daughter will begin to make plans for her future education. A *2011 study concluded that approximately 20.1 million women earned bachelor degrees in the United States compared to 18.7 million men.

But in other parts of the world, an education for a woman is less likely or even impossible to achieve. In second or third world countries, it is *estimated that approximately 60 millions girls are being denied an education. In regions of the world where poverty is rampant, a girl’s education is the key to breaking the cycle. With that education, she can move her family out of poverty, she is less likely to be forced to marry young, she and her children will have better access to medical care and her children are more likely to go to school.

The barriers to a girl’s education are many: tradition, familial needs (the parents choosing to educate their sons over their daughters due to limited income or needing their daughters at home to help with the household responsibilities), lack of female teachers, fear of violence, etc.

The fact is that these young ladies have endless potential in front of them. One of them might discover the cure for cancer or travel into space and find a previously unknown galaxy or become one of the most respected writers of her generation. But for that to happen, these girls must become educated. Education is the undisputed key to success. But first, these girls must receive that education and that is where the problem lies.

*A U.S. Gender Milestone: More Women Have Advanced Degrees Than Men, April 2011,


*Basic education and gender equality, July 2015, http://www.unicef.org/education/bege_70640.html


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Vindication and the Rights of Women and Girl’s Education


Vindication and the Rights of Women and Girl’s Education

By Adina Bernstein

Throughout history, a woman’s education has been minimal at best. She was lucky if she taught the basics of reading and writing, housework and if she lived in a rural setting, farming. It is only in the modern era that women have been able to achieve unprecedented levels of success in the educational world.

Mary Wollstonecraft’s groundbreaking 1792 book, Vindication of the Rights of Woman is the first feminist treatise. Writing about everything that touched women’s lives, Wollstonecraft’s writing is just as applicable today as it was in 1792. One of the topics she wrote about was a female’s education.

Wollstonecraft believed that for a woman to educate her children and be able to make rational, intelligent decisions, she herself must be educated. In chapter 7, page 207, she argues the following:

“If marriage be the cement of society, mankind should all be educated after the same model, or the intercourse of sexes will never deserve the name of fellowship, nor will women ever fulfill the peculiar duties of their sex, till they become enlightened citizens, till they become free by being enabled to earn their own subsistence, independent of men.”

Education is the key to success for all our children, especially our girls. They are our future. Their children are our future leaders. Without an education, the next generation has little chance to succeed.

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2015: A Good Year for Education

By Maria Hanophy

5 things that made 2015 a hopeful, inspirational, and an all-around good year for education reform globally.



  1. We began this year by celebrating the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history. At the end of last year, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai accepted the award and made an impassioned speech about girls’ education. In July, she celebrated her birthday by calling for a decrease in military spending and more funding for education through the hashtag #BooksNotBullets. index
  2. Save the Children is implementing its Advancing the Right to Read program in Rwanda. At the end of last year, a report was released which detailed key findings from the program. As a result of this research, Save the Children hopes to “generate a policy consensus, mobilise supportive actors and undertake direct policy influencing in Rwanda and internationally, with the overall aim of achieving systemic change in how reading is taught and supported nationally and locally, and to ensure that children in Rwanda have the reading materials needed to acquire and then use their literacy skills.”lgl_hero_test_wide_03
  3. In March, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let Girls Learn initiative. The initiative recognizes that 62 million girls around the world are not in school and seeks to remedy this by building upon existing programs and creating partnerships to remove the barriers that prevent girls from completing their education. First Lady Michelle Obama has spoken extensively about this initiative this year, recently getting people involved worldwide using the hashtag #62MillionGirls.1_unite4education_2_new
  4. In July, Education International held its 7th World Congress in Ottawa, Canada. The conference was attended by 767 delegates and 387 observers from 260 member organizations in 142 countries. The congress adopted 43 resolutions proposed by the Executive Board and member organizations which addressed the right to quality education for all people, the improvement of the welfare of teachers, the promotion of safety and sustainability, and the elimination of discrimination.globalgoals
  5. In September, World Leaders committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. Included were Goal 4: Quality Education, and Goal 5: Gender Equality. In reality, all 17 goals for sustainable development are connected and influenced by education. To read more about this connection, check out this article from the Global Partnership for Education.
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10 Quotes About Libraries

By Maria Hanophy


1. To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books. –Carlos María Domínguez

2. A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life. -Norman Cousins

3. Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. –Sidney Sheldon

4. A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life. –Henry Ward Beecher

5. Shout for libraries. Shout for the young readers who use them. –Patrick Ness

6. Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open. –Laura Bush

7. A great library is one nobody notices because it is always there, and always has what people need. –Vicki Myron

8. Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest. –Lady Bird Johnson

9. Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark…. In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed. –Germaine Greer

10. A library is a place where you learn what teachers were afraid to teach you. –Alan M. Dershowitz

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