Education Advocacy: From Rwanda to Indiana

I used to think that I didn’t like government or, at least, I thought that it would be difficult for me to become involved in government. As a science major in college, I didn’t really have anything beyond your standard 6th grade knowledge on how government works. My week as an advocate for the Global Campaign for Education completely turned around my ideas about the power of government. It is powerful and citizens can use the government to advocate for change to the world.

When I first signed up to participate in the June 2015 Youth Advocacy Training, I was nervous about meeting with the representative in Congress from my home district. What would I say to a Congresswoman? However, GCE and their partners, such as the Global Partners for Education, USAID, UNICEF, and Contextos, prepared me with numbers, facts, and stories about the importance of education.

And I believe that global basic education is something we should be advocating for.

Throughout the world, 127 million children and adolescents are out of school. Without an education, these kids miss out on a better chance for good health and quality jobs, as well just an increased standard of living. Without the power to read, a child cannot even adequately read a medicine bottle or a job application. In order to fill the global education gap, $39 billion dollars is needed to fully finance 12 years of quality education for all children.

Since 2008, Books & Beyond has strived to help improve the quality of education at Kabwende Primary School in Kinigi, Rwanda. When B&B first started, our B&B predecessors visited Rwanda for one week, dropped off the volumes of The World is Our Home, toured some local attractions, and flew back home- which is good and definitely gave the students a book to read and learn vocabulary. But, we realized we were providing books, but no aid to the students or teachers on how to use the book to teach English (which had become the national language in 2008 with very little warning). So, in 2012, we instituted the Kabwende Holiday camp, a two week English and literacy camp for 200-300 students at the school each summer. By participating in this camp last summer and teaching Reader’s Theater, I realized how powerful a tool education truly is. While I did not cause any student to suddenly become fluent in English, I hope that I taught that learning and reading can be fun and maybe inspired a few students to continue to pursue knowledge.

That’s how Books & Beyond is helping to make a change across the globe, but how can we jumpstart these changes right here in the United States?

Susan W. Brooks

Abigail Hamilton (second from left) and fellow GCE advocates from across the country with Representative Susan W. Brooks

On Capitol Hill, I met with Representative Susan W. Brooks from my district in Indiana. We both shared a passion for education and a belief that education is the gateway for so many other things. Education should be a right and not a privilege given to a few. After discussing the need and our desire for global basic education, we asked Representative Brooks to consider joining the Global Basic Education Caucus in Congress. With this caucus, we hope that our government officials will also advocate for the need for universal education. With this caucus, GCE and all education advocates move a little closer to helping 127 more million children enter school.

Through GCE, I learned that government is not something unattainable, only reserved for those who strive for political office. We can all make our voices heard by knowing our facts, meeting with our representatives, writing letters, and starting advocacy campaigns. The government should truly work for its people and we can help make that happen. So, call up your representative or write a letter and let them know what matters to you and your community. You don’t have to traverse the globe to make a change. Get the change started in your community. It’s easier than you think.


Thank you to Global Campaign for Education-US and Books & Beyond for these opportunities!

And thank you to the Malala Fund Blog for previously sharing this post.



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