International Literacy Day
On the occasion of International Literacy Day, which took place on Monday 11 September 2017, the NGO Soroptimist International organized a daylong conference and panel discussions at UNESCO’s Headquarters. New Humanity was part of the program not just through the presence of Chantal Grevin, Marie-Annick and Pierre Benoit, its official representatives at UNESCO, but in particular through Melchior Nsavyimana’s remarks.
Melchior Nsavyimana of New Humanity is from Burundi and studied Political Sciences at Sophia University, where he just discussed his doctoral dissertation.
The very first round table he participated to, focused on the issue: “What are the challenges of literacy and fight against illiteracy in today’s world?”
His remarks, where he presented to the audience Africa’s point of view, were striking and constituted an important moment in the discussion, confirmed by the applause after he spoke, as well as by the warm words of encouragement from many participants throughout the day. Two of them, a participant from Central Africa and a local government official from the metropolitan area of Paris, originally from the Ivory Coast, were particularly enthusiastic. They said they had dropped in at UNESCO “by a chance”, and were very pleased to hear a young African person express so well what they also thought and felt, that is the idea of “not acting in the place of Africans, but together with them”. They found New Humanity a very interesting NGO.
Melchior Nsavyimana also presented the project “Come back to Africa: turn your dreams back to Africa in order to contribute and build the Africa we want”. The project, launched and promoted by Melchior, has the purpose of raising awareness in African youth who study and get a degree in Europe, about the need of development of their countries of origin and need of formation of their fellow compatriots, from a peace perspective.
After reminding that 69% of the African population is less than 30 years old, Melchior Nsavyimana highlighted some of the main challenges Africa is experiencing: the quality of education and formation, the outlook on the future, and preparing the youth to build the Africa “of tomorrow”, in order to meet the challenges connected to peace and development in Africa.
In order for the project to take off, Melchior worked in close collaboration with a team of fourteen other students from twelve African countries. It was a complex endeavor, since – as he noted – “we were not speaking of Africa, rather of Africas”. The audience, many of whom were women from the various Soroptimist clubs, was very pleased to hear that 10 of the 15 students were girls.
One of the decisions the workgroup took together was choosing to write their final university papers on a topic connected to the challenges of the African continent from the perspective of development and promotion of peace and universal fraternity.
The six countries in East Africa plus the Democratic Republic of the Congo are engaged in the “pilot project” intended to form youth to responsible leadership and active citizenship. There’s a plan for a Formation Seminar in Nairobi in December, which will see the participation of professors from Europe and Africa, as well as the tutors who will accompany the about one hundred young people who have registered to the formation path set to take off next July.