The Youth today: Lessons we learn from Kimani Maruge

This is a blog post from World Youth Foundation volunteer Nyawira Njenga in Nairobi

Kimani Maruge  - ImageKimani Ng’ang’a Maruge, the Guinness World Record Holder of the oldest person to start primary school, is a great example of someone taking action into their own hands. He said the government’s announcement of universal and free elementary education in 2003 prompted him to enroll when he was 84 years old. In two years, he had been elected the head boy of his school.

In 2005 Maruge went to the New York City to address the UN Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education. A feature film about Kimani Maruge titled, ‘The First Grader’ was released on May 13th, 2011. He was featured by both local and international media.

Kimani Maruge _ Google DoodleOn January 12th 2015, Google’s homepage Google Doodle features him marking his 11th Anniversary since he stepped into a classroom declaring he wanted to learn to read and write. His classmates were about six to seven years old. He was older than every teacher present in his school. An active citizen, he heard an advertisement over the radio and acted on his knowledge.

He could have dismissed education as being just for school children. But he had a need for personal development and here was an opportunity. He took it upon himself and tackled his challenges as they came, “The policies of our governments are meant for you and I and not the other people.” The decisions our government makes affect our every day life.

In the 21st century, we have a role to participate activity in the governing process.

By the end of year 2013 they were 7.1 billion people on the planet and 6.6 billion were mobile subscribers and 85 percent of these people have internet access. Nearly 25 percent of people in the world now use social media with Africa showing the largest percentage increase in internet usage (with 129%). Young people can now access internet through their hand phones connecting them all over the world regions.

Social Media tools go beyond nationalities, geographical locations and countries’ GDPs. Africa has the great opportunity to use social media for its development course. Already in the past three years, social media have greatly been the best platform to drum up support for actions against terrorism, climate change and other humanitarian causes.

Some of the obstacles that have been tackled in one leap through social media are the size and diversity of audience reached, the time taken, quality of results attained and amount of feedback received.

The World Youth Foundation through its Online volunteers has collaborated with the UN on the MY World Campaign to reach out to all social media users without discrimination of interests, careers, nationalities or any other differences to make a mark by casting their vote on the six issues that are most important to them and their families.

The MY World Campaign is using digital campaigning strategy to reach out to youth globally and capitalize on their numbers and activity on social media, forming a greater voice across the continents.

This campaign allows social media users for the first time to have a direct say in shaping a better world as the UN works with governments everywhere to define the next global agenda to address extreme poverty and preserve the planet. The data from MY World continues to inform these processes and be used by decision makers around the world.

Vote here and leave your mark.

Sometimes the change we so often look for is not found in magnanimous deeds but the simple actions that take just a few minutes. When our efforts are combined, then we have a metamorphosis!