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Introduction

Glocal International Teen Conference (GITC) is an opportunity for teenagers to address the issues and overcome the challenges that they have faced in their daily lives. It is a platform for all teenagers from age 13 to 19 to learn, empower, and bring social impact through a participatory and interactive environment with their peers from all over the globe. It is a lifetime experience to connect with the influencing teenager and act for a positive change. 

The conference showcased the ideas, experiences, and stories of teenagers from different countries through a series of panel discussions and presentations. The three key issues of GITC are Entrepreneurship, Empowerment, and Socio-Perspective. This Year, the Glocal International Teen Conference is being organized virtually. 

Presenter for “Socio-Perspective Panel” at Wai Wai Glocal International Teen Conference, 2020

Ms. Veda Ramakrishnan is a Child Right Activist from the USA. She enjoys helping out in various community projects. Her goal is to create and sustain positive changes in the world through creative actions and volunteer efforts especially on promoting Child Rights.

She was a presenter for the Socio-perspective Panel at Glocal International Teen Conference 2020. She shared her perspective about why academic and creative opportunities for children are important, and specifically how we as teenagers can help them. 

Here is the synopsis of the presentation;

I would like to start off by addressing the connection between my topic and the social perspective theme. So, society comprises not just adult change-makers and influencers but members of youth as well. That’s why we place a priority on developing, all of our perspectives, and I believe that the best way to do that is by starting at the grassroots level and giving children access to creative and academic opportunities. And I truly believe that together we can collaborate to empower generosity and to make our perspectives and voices dictate how the future is going to be.

Meanwhile, it is important to establish the differences between academic and creative opportunities, because while they do serve a similar purpose, and provide children with access to grow their minds and to grow their perspectives. They are quite different in terms of what they’re trying to achieve. So with academic opportunities, I’m referring to things like access to schooling, education, and access to core academic subjects such as reading, writing, maths language, and anything that serves to provide foundational baseline knowledge to enable children to make future career-related choices. And by creating opportunities, I’m talking about things like extracurricular activities and classes; work and volunteer experiences in school tracks, any creative ventures such as arts, music, or community service that allow children to be able to explore their passions in the real world, something which will allow children to cultivate their passions, which is an equally important part in the development of a child.

If children are given access to programs and activities, enabling them to discover their passions and goals for the future. So kids need to receive these opportunities in the first place. For one reason, being able to secure a stable financial future. This serves to make sure that they have a good quality of life when they’re older.

According to the graph by the World Development Report, all the countries present wages for both men and women. Each additional year of schooling and wages increased by a factor of 8 to 10%. The graph showcases the importance of schooling for children and places the importance on school and considerably affects the futures of children to learn and support themselves. It is also important not just for children to be able to secure a better future for themselves, but also they’re able to have outlets for creatively expressing themselves through their passions. I do believe in the quote of Pablo Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up” because passion and motivation interspersed with creative thinking, which allowed children to grow in confidence and passion in the first place, thereby enabling them to become change-makers and world leaders. 

According to the graph by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the second reason is directly addressed to two very important children’s rights. In order to maintain and nurture creativity to adulthood, children must be exposed to activities that allow them to explore their interests and enhance their personal lives. Most importantly, this must guarantee that they don’t lose this creativity as they grow older, but in fact, they can develop their creativity and are able to use it in order to make decisions that matter in the future society.

So, the third reason why kids need to receive these opportunities is to enable something called authentic learning. Now authentic learning can be simply defined as connecting the skills which you learn in school or traditional academic settings to real-world applications and situations. Authentic learning touches the importance of creative opportunities, real-world experiences, and also allows them to make connections to find novel ways to think about a topic or issue. In this graph, authentic learning can be summarized in the three-step process. The first being acquiring important knowledge and skills from a classroom or an academic setting; making sense of the big ideas and finally being able to transfer or apply them in a real-world setting. Every child needs to have authentic learning experiences because they will be able to achieve their goals through mutual collaboration and innovative thinking through this.

This causes a lack of opportunities for children because the truth is while creative and academic opportunities are becoming larger in number. Not every single child still has access to these avenues. So the first reason for this is the availability of schools that offer high quality and low-cost education. While countries on average have really increased access to education in the past decade by establishing more schools, promoting learning within the classroom is still a huge issue. With technology on the rise, it is becoming easier to be able to identify student needs. But the fact of the matter is; there is still a lack of data available on how classrooms in schools are conducted and how students are taught. This makes it very difficult to anticipate student’s needs. Additionally, an issue of cost comes into play, not because schools are too expensive, but because of the quality of education which is offered at low-cost schools. Many schools offer reduced diversion for students, lack of resources, and aid needed to improve and therefore enable children to maximize their communities and academic learning opportunities. The financial and socioeconomic status of the families must also be considered when looking at this issue as a whole. Many authentic learning opportunities are simply more accessible

Furthermore, we talked about the opportunity gap, causes, and as well as the reasons behind why they exist in the first place. So as young changemakers enrolled in schools, colleges, and universities with programs that have a direct connection to children. I truly believe that it is our responsibility to spearhead learning. We can also be creative and tackle the rural versus urban opportunity gap. 

Especially during the pandemic, it is not possible to directly jump in on a service project and start work right away. Therefore, we can also engage in something called remote work during COVID-19. We can do this by collaborating with schools around the world to improve opportunities for children. During the pandemic, a ‘summer project’ that I had the opportunity to work on this year was to tutor students and was able to create a fundraiser for the purpose of donating my proceeds to a school in India. This was to help and establish an Online Learning Initiative at their school during a lockdown. And I know, I definitely couldn’t have done this without the help of so many people and also supporting me as a teenager.

I truly believe that we as teenagers and generation individuals are the most capable of this because we understand the age demographic and we’ll be able to anticipate children’s needs and will be able to engage with that. We’re also in a position where people will be willing to help us out because we’re in an age where more teenagers are making groundbreaking changes. Truly speaking with various teenage nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and leaders, I know that when others see our specific age group taking initiative; they are very impressed and motivated. And we must utilize the vast amount of opportunities and resources that we have to make the world a better place for the upcoming generation.

 

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