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Ulises Brengi: Transforming Global Education Through Youth Participation

Ulises Brengi: Transforming Global Education Through Youth Participation

Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, back with a new guest. Ulises Brengi is chatting with us all the way from Buenos Aires about his work as a Youth Advisor for the UN Transforming Education Summit. Let’s see how he’s committed to making a difference in this world!

Spiffy: Hey Ulises! How are you doing? What can you tell me about the challenge you are addressing through the UN Transforming Education Summit?

Ulises: Great to be here today, Spiffy! The main challenge the Transforming Education Summit is addressing is how we create a new social contract around education at a global level. There is a crisis there that has been going on for years which the pandemic deepened. This "new social contract" has a strong focus on the role of the Public Sector, and the commitments Heads of States and Ministers will take to address and tackle said crisis. This Summit isn't only about the Declaration, and the commitments, countries will sign, but it will also be a starting point to build a global movement for education, something we have seen with climate change but not with education.

Spiffy: That’s very impressive! What motivated you to do it?

Ulises: I was appointed as a Youth Advisor by UNESCO due to my experience in advocating for education, of working in innovation within this industry (mostly around 21st-century skills), and my experience in the design and implementation of big and high-level types of events. On a personal level, it is a great opportunity to push the "youth agenda", to bring our voice, to ensure our participation in the decision-making table, because every time countries discuss public policies around education, we hardly ever see youth perspective, participation or engagement in it.

Spiffy: In your words, how is the Summit working towards a more equitable world?

Ulises: During the first half of the year, the team behind the TES (Transforming Education Summit), which includes national delegations and representatives at UNESCO, specialists in education, and education champions, among others, worked on developing consultations, discussion papers, and building the "foundings" for this Declaration that Head of States will sign. In late June, we had the Transforming Education Pre-Summit (held at UNESCO's HQ in Paris) which set the tone for the discussion and paved the road for the actual Summit (which will take place during the UN General Assembly in September 2022).

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by the organization and its subsequent impact.

Ulises: Young advisors and advocates at this Summit started developing (with the UN Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth) a Youth Declaration, with inputs from young people from across the world, which will help create structures and mechanisms to hold governments accountable for their actions and make sure young people are at the decision-making table. This Youth Declaration will be part of the final declaration that the Head of States will sign during the Summit in September.

Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?

Ulises: Making sure young people are at the decision-making table is difficult. I encountered situations where "youth engagement" or "intergenerational dialogue" was mentioned but at the end of the day nothing changed, and that made me feel disappointed, frustrated, and even angry. What I learnt from it was: be resilient, adapt yourself, and be smart and strategic—are there other ways you can ensure youth engagement without being rejected or blind-sided? All of this led me to collaborate with other young people involved in this summit, work as a team, be aligned, leave our egos aside, and work towards the same objective - true and meaningful youth engagement.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Ulises: I would share to the (youth) audience: engage, commit yourself, participate. The climate change movement is being led by young people at the forefront; however, that isn't happening with education. We need more young people to join youth and student organizations, to hold policy-makers accountable, and to be at the forefront of a global movement for education, because at the end of the day, we're talking about our education, our present and our future.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Ulises—it’s been an honor!

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Ulises Brengi has been involved in educational initiatives since the age of 16. He currently leads projects related to 21st-century skills, school-to-work transition, and green entrepreneurship at Eidos Global, while being part of the Advisory Committee of the Transforming Education Summit as a youth representative. (First published on the Ladderworks website on August 16, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.