January 24, 2023/0 Comments/in Featured StoryImpact Stories /

ELF-Africa Newsroom

The voices that reminded girls at Alliance Girls Centre must have stuck to Cynthia’s mind, a constant reminder that they were the pedigree of women that this nation needs. She has lived to measure up, to see herself within the stars that shine so bright, or say, an eagle that must tower above and set an example, create an impact, and drive change. This, unarguably, explains the enthusiasm she has in all that she does in her bid to create change in Education sector.

Through the facilitation of the Global Partnership for Education and World Bank, the ELF-Africa alumni had a chance to showcase her mettle on a global stage, creating an intercontinental impression at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This saw her participate in several events in New York at the 77th UNGA. Her involvement ranged from interviewing global leaders and taking part in panel discussions on gender transformative education, to moderating a session at Unlock the Future Learning event.

Cynthia (standing far left) with colleagues at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Fellowship in Tanzania

“My experience was exciting. Being at UNGA provided me with a platform I have been working towards for about eight years now as I advocate for quality, inclusive education. Having started as a volunteer mentor with the Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly program, I discovered that many children and youth in Kenya are not well-resourced. Girls miss out on a chance at education because of Female Genital Mutilation and early marriages,” she shares.

The fact that children with disabilities continue to be marginalized and cannot access education equally to other children, adding to the reality of early marriages and FGM, she could not appreciate a platform to voice her view and experience better than being at the global stage at UNGA. To her, this was an opportune moment to share all the experiences of young people with policymakers, presidents, and other leaders at a global level.

At the 2022 77th UNGA, it was not just about being on those forums to share her views, there was a lot more to it. She participated in several activities, showcasing her journalistic skills among much other expertise she possesses.  She was the Master of Ceremony at the Youth Mobilization Day at the UNGA, where young people came together with one call to action: that it is time for leaders to transform education.

“This was a chance for youth from all over the world to share their experiences and provide solutions. I also ensured therefore that the conversation about the youth declaration presented at the summit to the UN Secretary-General keeps going forward. This is because, before the summit, I had worked together with other youth through consultations in Nairobi to hear the voices of children and youth on what a transformed education system would look like for them,” Cynthia says of her experience.

Being a woman raised in Africa, having gone through the Kenyan education system, and being a player in the transformation of education, we can say that her participation in the forums that focused on gender and education must have brought out the best of and for her.

“I was a keynote speaker at various sessions that involved gender transformative education, the importance of playing for children, and the role of teachers in the classroom,” she adds.

Being an African youth, she speaks with great hope and determination to the young people of Africa. She tells them that being part of conversations and activities like the ones she has involved herself in means a lot for this nation and Africa as a whole.

“It tells the youth that they have the power to keep leaders accountable for the promises they make. It also enables them to know that they are not just participants in this critical conversation but also providers of solutions when it comes to issues that affect them; this summit ensured that young people’s voices were included in the conversations about the world and Africa. This should continue to be the norm. I encourage the youth to act in their communities and forge partnerships that ensure we meet the 2030 Agenda for all people.”Cynthia Nyongesa

From UNGA, Cynthia has received many nominations to participate in several workshops, seminars, and fellowships. She is currently part of the inaugural Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Pan African Young Leaders Fellowship cohort. And just before that, she secured a chance to be part of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship Class of 2023. This offers her the opportunity, as a young leader, to be part of Mandela’s legacy of transformative impact. In addition to these two, she also got published by TaxPrism, a quarterly publication by the Kenya Revenue Authority that provides a platform for peer insight and shares experience on how revenue authorities, and tax and customs experts are handling key issues in light of emerging developments. In her piece for this journal titled Transforming Education in Africa, Cynthia called on leaders and education stakeholders to pay special attention to specific outcomes and flagship programs from the Transforming Education Summit (TES) held in September 2022, at the 77th UNGA. She avers that attention should be given to Foundational learning, governments to think of greening education and be more deliberate in addressing the challenges of education in hardship areas.

At ELF-Africa, we are more than proud to be associated with her and to share her story of determination, zeal, and enthusiasm to be a change-maker. Her hunger to become more, to script her story with inks of greatness makes us hold her in high regards, an indication that empowered young people can are instrumental in steering the desired transformation.