SDG 4 Blog by Shaan
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By World Merit -
Quality Education is an “everybody” goal.
When I was in college, I was studying film-making. I had aspirations to either become a documentary film-maker or work in commercial media. One day, towards the last two months of my college education, I decided to sit in on a presentation being made by an NGO working in the education sector. While I went in with no expectations, I have to say now, that this one presentation (and what followed) changed my life.
In that one hour, I learnt about the educational crises in my country. I soon realised that the biggest reason why I was sitting in a fancy college room attending a presentation while someone equally or more capable, talented or bright was perhaps in a slum with no real hope or plans for their future; was because of where I was born. I was born in a family who believed in me and encouraged me as much as they could, to educate myself.
Within that one hour, something had changed within me. I had decided that I was going to drop my plan of entering the media industry and I went home - straight to their website to apply to become a teacher in a low income free public school. A selection process and a six-week-long training later - I started teaching in a low income underserved school, in one of the biggest slums in India.
It was a difficult and challenging two years - many of these children were first-generation learners, living in a community where there were issues like - lack of nutrition, safe water and electricity; and in households, where there were very little support and many a times even violence or abuse.
This really changed the way I saw the world. I strongly started to believe that someone’s demographics should not determine their destiny and that “I” always have the power to change someone’s life path for the better.
I realised many times the question is not of - how much money/finances someone has, or how many useful contacts someone has, but just a matter of one person’s guidance and support. It wasn’t about potential or capability - sometimes people just genuinely didn’t know if they can get out of an unfavourable situation, or what they could possibly do to reach a better place.
A good education has to have an inculcation of values and mindsets, and access to opportunities/experiences as much as it has academic knowledge. Most of who I am today is a result of the education I had, and I know now, that a lot of it was not attained in the walls of a school. When I see education as a whole, it includes the experiences and opportunities that helped me to grow my mindsets and learn new skills, and the people who formally or informally guided me and contributed to my growth. Today, it is because I know the great impact it had on me, that I chose to work with an organization that connects mentors from all over the globe to mentees.
This is where you come in! The ways in which you can radically change someone’s life by sharing your knowledge and guidance to take the next step are many. As the World Merit community, we have immense experience and knowledge. As we create change across the world, we have the power to change mindsets for the better and guide people to find new opportunities and experiences to grow. This is why I encourage each one of you to really think about the difference you can make to “Quality Education” even though it may not be the SDG you are working on. I encourage you to be a mentor, or a guide (formally or informally) - even if it is just to one person who can really use your help. Identify that person, reach out to them and support their journey because education is really an “everybody” goal