Ulises Brengi: Transforming global education through youth engagement

Ladder works is a publishing platform for various picture books and online programs whose mission is to empower more than one million children to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features our interplanetary journalist Spiffy’s interviews with inspiring social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi people! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary reporter from planet Earth, back with a new guest. From Buenos Aires, Ulises Brengi talks with us about his work as a youth adviser for the UN Transforming Education Summit. Let’s see how he is committed to making a difference in this world!

Nice : Hi Ulises! How are you? What can you tell me about the challenge you are taking up through the United Nations Transforming Education Summit?

Ulises: Great to be here today, Spiffy! The main challenge addressed by the Transforming Education Summit is how to create a new social contract around education at the global level. There is a crisis here that has been going on for years and that the pandemic has made worse. This “New Social Contract” places a strong emphasis on the role of the public sector and the commitments that Heads of State and Ministers will make to address and address said crisis. This Summit is not only about the Declaration and the commitments that countries will sign, but it will also be a starting point to build a global movement for education, which we have seen with climate change but not with education.

Nice : It is very impressive ! What motivated you to do it?

Ulises: I was appointed Youth Advisor by UNESCO because of my background in education advocacy, work in innovation within this industry (mostly around 21st century skills) and experience in design and implementation of large and high-level events. On a personal level, it is a great opportunity to advance the “youth agenda”, to make our voices heard, to ensure our participation at the decision-making table, because each time the countries discuss public policies around education, you almost never see the point of view of young people, their participation or their commitment.

Nice : In your words, how is the Summit working for a more equitable world?

Ulises: During the first semester, the TES (Transforming Education Summit) team, which includes national delegations and representatives to UNESCO, education specialists and education champions, among others, worked to the development of consultations, discussion documents and the construction of the “foundations” of this Declaration that the Heads of State will sign. At the end of June, we had the Transforming Education pre-summit (held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris) which set the tone for the discussion and paved the way for the actual summit (which will take place during of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022).

Nice : Tell me about a recent step or initiative of the organization and its subsequent impact.

Ulises: Youth Advisors and Advocates from this Summit have begun to develop (with the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth) a Youth Declaration, with input from young people around the world, that will help create structures and mechanisms to hold governments accountable and ensure young people are at the decision-making table. This youth declaration will be part of the final declaration that heads of state will sign at the summit in September.

Nice : Please share an experience where you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from this?

Ulises: It is difficult to ensure that young people are at the decision-making table. I have come across situations where ‘youth engagement’ or ‘intergenerational dialogue’ was mentioned but in the end nothing changed, and it made me feel disappointed, frustrated, even angry. What I learned from this is: be resilient, adapt, be smart and strategic – are there other ways to ensure youth engagement without being rejected or caught off guard? All of this led me to collaborate with other young people involved in this summit, to work as a team, to be aligned, to put our egos aside and to work towards the same goal – real and meaningful youth engagement.

Nice : Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?

Ulises: I would share with the (young) audience: engage, engage, participate. The climate change movement is led by young people on the front lines; however, this does not happen with education. We need more young people to join youth and student organizations, hold policy makers accountable and be at the forefront of a global movement for education, because at the end of the day we are talking about our education, our present and our coming.

Nice : Thank you for speaking with me today, Ulises—it was 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 serving on the Advisory Board 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 artwork by Shreyas Navarre. For the Ladderworks Digital Curriculum to help children in K-3 advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy’s Corner here.

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