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We usually think it’s the teachers who bring about big changes in a school. And very often, it is. Yet what happens when students start leading a new way to learn?

“We need change!”

Ione lives in Ponto Novo, Bahia in Brazil. Along with other teenagers in São Paulo, Ione took part in a special UNICEF project. Designed to prepare young people for the workplace, Ione and her friends learned about decision-making, team-working and crucially, how best to bring about change in their own lives and communities.

A new-found determination

After the course, an inspired Ione decided to put her learnings into practice. And where better than at her own school? After all, shouldn’t school be an environment where each and every child can get the quality education they deserve and the chance to reach their full potential?

“We need change!” Ione exclaims. “For example, a person in a wheel-chair can’t study here.”  This is a matter particularly close to Ione’s heart. Her cousin is in a wheelchair. But instead of joining Ione at their local school, her cousin must travel much further away to a school that can accommodate a chair.

Standing up for a better school

Ione has spotted many opportunities for improvement. Some, like providing disabled access and employing more teachers to reduce the number of unsupervised classes will take planning, time and money. But others, as she explains, are quick-wins. “I’ve never seen a door latch in the toilets,” she reports. “Which is serious for the girls, because someone could come and open the door.”

Knowing how to make it happen

Using the skills she’d learned on her course, Ione carefully collected the information she needed to present a fair and balanced case to a very surprised school principal. Who was this self-assured, determined, persuasive girl handing over a polite yet firm list of recommendations for making the school a better place to learn?

Ione’s determination is a wonderful story of a young person taking their own experiences and using them to provide improved learning opportunities for others. Success stories like these are the inspiration behind our Learning for Tomorrow initiative, which you can read more about here. Just think… if this the impact just one child can make, the future could be very bright indeed.

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