'Education is the only solution': Malala Day and South Sudan

On July 12, more than 550 Youth Delegates from around the world convened at UN headquarters in New York to honor Malala Yousafzai's bravery and reaffirm their support for the right of every child to be in school and learning by 2015. I had the humbling opportunity to be part of this global youth effort.

Along with my fellow Youth Delegates, we declared the "Youth Resolution: The Education We Want." This is a solemn call on all governments and institutions to ensure free access to quality education for the 57 million children unable to attend school and undertake concerted efforts to advance children's rights. We presented the Youth Resolution to the Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and called for adoption and accountability by all governments. We resolved to no longer be indifferent to the challenges of our time.

In this cause for education and children's rights, we will encounter numerous challenges. Indeed, there may not be a place more in need of concerted efforts than my country, South Sudan. In our third year of independence, lacking sufficient capacity and commitment to develop and maintain schools, more than half of our children do not attend any center of learning. Other statistics are equally dispiriting: 43 percent of our teachers have only a primary school education and only 27 percent of our citizens are literate.

Solving these great challenges will require a selfless approach from global institutions of good will, but crucially from our own government and from us, the citizens. It is important that our government recognizes the dire nature of this crisis, increases funding for education, and institutes laws and policies that incentivize education and ensure the smooth transition of some of our societies from pastoral living to more settled lifestyles.

We, the citizens, must do our fair share of the work. We must engage in critical discussions and be ready to make all sacrifices necessary for the proper and healthy upbringing of our younger generation. They are the citizens of tomorrow and the custodians of this very nation whose posterity, liberty and prosperity depend on the things we do today.

As I rest my pen and reflect on this year's Malala Day, I hope the next will find a more secure world, a more educated people and less burdened children; a world in which South Sudan cares for its young and nurtures its future.