New Year’s Message From the Executive Director

 

In many respects, 2016 was a very eventful year. Although we can rejoice in some positive trends, such as the continued decrease in global childhood mortality rates, we also faced some extraordinary lows and heartbreaking circumstances. It sometimes seemed as if 2016 was a pendulum swinging wildly back and forth from happy to sad, elation to crisis, hope to despair. By end of the year, the entire world seemed tired and quite dizzy from the emotional rollercoaster of 2016.

For those of us working to improve children’s well-being and education, 2016 was a particularly challenging year. How can we ever forget the following images from 2016: thousands of children forced to migrate far from their homelands, often suffering greatly on their journey; children hanging on to life in conflict and war zones; and babies suffering the harsh and tragic consequences of the Zika pandemic? While children’s suffering sadly is not new to our world, the ability to receive these images instantaneously, and with so much graphic detail, heightens feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

During such uncertain times, we often look to our leaders to provide solutions to such problems and to use their voice and influence to help redress such tragic circumstances. Leaders set an example for us to follow and often inspire us with renewed hope as they show us how we can contribute positively to a cause. However, a disturbing leadership trend emerged in 2016 as we witnessed some leaders demonstrating more concern with protectionist pursuits and retreating inward rather than reaching out to offer aid and hope to the afflicted in their nations or the world overall. How will such protectionism grow the critical human capacity of caring, compassion, and empathy? How will protectionism ultimately further the global good for our children? Whether we like it or not, our world is interdependent and all our lives are inextricably intertwined. Our thoughts can no longer be just of ourselves and our own well-being. We are one world.

In unsettled times like these, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder if we can make a difference in a world with such great needs and lack of direction. However, I would say these are exactly the times when we need to lean forward and step up. When hopelessness and helplessness tug at us, we need to bolster our determination to help make the world, or our small corner of it, a better place.

We must examine our commitment to creating a peaceful and productive world for our children. We must do our best to find purpose and meaning in our lives so we can translate our energies into taking action and elevating the conversation on the critical social and economic issues of our times, including children’s education. This year, don’t just make a New Year’s resolution, a promise you may soon forget—make a plan for action.

In 2016, ACEI stepped forward with new programs and our very own plan to do our part to support children’s education worldwide. Please visit our website at acei.org and join our community—a community that supports bright futures for every child, every nation.

Although 2016 brought many changes and some surprises to our world, let this be the stimulus for our own positive, creative, and transformative action plan for children and their education in 2017.

Anne Bauer