Bright Futures for Every Child, Every Nation

You are here

Nelson Mandela

We would like to create a world familiar with the smiles of children rather than their tears." —Nelson Mandela

“It is my deepest conviction that the children should be seen and heard as our most treasured assets. They are not ours to be used or abused but to be loved and nurtured and encouraged to engage in life to the full extent of their being, free from fear.”  —Nelson Mandela

On December 5th, the world lost a true education diplomat and advocate for children. Nelson Mandela loved children. One only has to look at photographs of Mandela to realize that children were a central presence in his life. Whether holding a child’s hand, inviting them to sit on his lap, or simply exchanging smiles and glances, Nelson Mandela’s special relationship with children was evident to the world. He knew that children, and how we teach, engage, and love them, are the key to world harmony and peace. Mandela understood that we must listen to children, that their thoughts, ideas, and concerns are important and their participation in community life is critical to their development into contributing, global citizens. Children who are loved, educated, and respected will grow into adults who foster concepts of non-violence, acceptance, and appreciation of diversity in ever-changing, multi-racial, multi-religious societies.

Nelson Mandela was a true education diplomat. He involved himself in initiatives that sought to expand access to, and equity in, education for all. He was an advocate for girl’s education and for ensuring that children, particularly the most vulnerable, have access to educational opportunities. Nelson Mandela’s charities focus on initiatives dealing with AIDS, education, and other issues that impact the lives of children. These initiatives refurbish impoverished schools with brightly colored chairs and murals, provide Harvard and Oxford scholarships for Africa's brightest youth, and build libraries in rural areas, among other projects.

President Mandela, we will miss you. Your example of public service has shown us all how to best ensure we leave this world a better place than we found it.

If you would like to sign a book of condolences please visit

You may also wish to visit the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund at

Related ACEI initiatives of interest:

Education Diplomacy

Love Me, Teach Me