At One Young World summit, education is 'key for everything'
At 22, Cornelia Kruah has watched two civil wars ravage her home country of Liberia.
The African republic paid in lives but also in intellectual capital, its school system fractured in upheaval that left many young Liberians poorly educated and ill-equipped to rebuild an economy.
“Education is the key for everything,” said Kruah, one of 1,300 delegates from about 180 countries at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, for the third annual One Young World global issues summit. “I think it really needs to be strengthened. It's a gateway.”
Her delegate colleagues agreed Friday, picking literacy — including computer literacy — as a primary theme as the gathering assembled singer Joss Stone, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and several other international luminaries on its second day in Pittsburgh. The summit of young leaders mostly in their 20s will meet through Sunday.
“Thoughts on their own are useless. We have to act,” said Stone, 25, a contemporary of the delegates. “Having an idea is just the beginning.”
Eighty-eight percent of delegates accepted a written pledge “to take personal responsibility for improving literacy in our home communities,” promising to take up the cause in practical ways. About a quarter of adults worldwide are illiterate, according to United Nations estimates.
“This doesn't come from the developing world alone. It comes from the whole world,” said Kate Robertson, a co-founder of One Young World — a London-based charity that runs the summit to give young people a global platform for social change.
Literacy appeared among a half-dozen major causes that gripped center stage and delegate discussions Friday. Robertson said participants in last year's summit in Zurich, Switzerland, made education a top priority.
“Many problems you see around the world are simple problems and can be solved in simple ways,” said Bangladeshi professor Muhammad Yunus, a winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. “In this day and age, there is no reason absolutely whatsoever that someone should be illiterate.”
Elderly people who are illiterate can use cell phones, and young people not yet in school know how to play computer games, he said. Yunus challenged delegates to develop software that would allow those technologies to become teaching devices.
“Always look at a tiny slice of the problem. Don't try to solve the whole problem,” Yunus said. “If you solve the tiny slice, then it is done.”
Delegates put another spotlight on corruption. More than 95 percent of participants from Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico consider corruption a major problem in their countries, saying transparency is most needed to fight it.
Catherine Kipsang, 22, of Kenya said she aims to become president of her country by age 45. Four months ago, she helped start GiveNumbers.com to educate Kenyans about the backgrounds and voting records of politicians.
Distributing such information in her country is difficult, Kipsang said.
“I can only imagine the kind of impact we could have if we all have something like GiveNumbers in all the countries here,” Kipsang said.
Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey, who addressed delegates Friday, said his companies make transparency a priority in governance and routine operations.
“It definitely has to start with every action you do,” Dorsey said. “And it's the simplest things that make the biggest difference.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Diminishing number of pilots takes toll on small airports in Western Pa.
- Shaler man charged in death of girl, 6, not prosecuted in repeated alcohol cases
- Would-be Troy Hill carjackers scared off by sirens
- Pa. spends millions on death penalty cases that rarely end in execution
- 17-year-old male killed, 15-year-old female shot in McKeesport
- African-American Heritage Day Parade in Pittsburgh draws more than 40 groups
- Pittsburgh police officer hits pedestrian in East Liberty
- Police urge caution after several Perry South break-ins
- Police: Man steals cash from tip jar at South Side restaurant
- 10-county regional transportation alliance to form in Western Pa.
- Mt. Lebanon considers sharpshooters to help thin deer herd