Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the YSEALI “Teaching Vulnerable Youth in Unconventional Settings” Symposium

Selamat pagi!  I appreciate very much this opportunity to speak to all of you today on the importance of teaching vulnerable youth in unconventional settings.

I want to extend a warm welcome to Minister of Education Anies Baswedan. Anies brings a unique combination of knowledge, experience, and passion to his Ministry, one of the most important to Indonesia’s future.

This workshop is particularly timely because today is International Youth Day. So this is a good chance for us all to reflect on what more we can do to help young people, particularly those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Let me thank all of you for your attendance today and your steadfast engagement.

Half of Indonesia’s population is under the age of 30 so what better way to secure Indonesia’s bright future than by addressing one of the greatest challenges facing Southeast Asian youth today; access to education. There is no greater gift to a young person than the gift of education, one of the best ways to reduce poverty and increase opportunity.  And new technologies offer so many new ways to expand access to and content of education.

A special thank you to the American Institute for Indonesian Studies (AIFIS) for partnering up with the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiatives (YSEALI) and collaborating to make this event possible. And a warm thank you to Minister Anies Baswedan and the Ministry of Education for providing a venue to foster efforts to bring people together who are passionate about education.

For those in the audience who are not familiar with YSEALI, it stands for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.  President Obama launched this wonderful initiative two years ago to help empower young people in this important region for the United States, by giving them more of the skills and resources and networks they need to turn your ideas into action.

Since then, we have offered workshops, online networking, exchanges, professional development, hands-on training all over SE Asia.  And today, the YSEALI network includes nearly 35,000 young people.

In partnership with the United States, ASEAN youth are tackling what they have identified as their generation’s greatest challenges in the ASEAN region.  Today we are going to address one of the challenges; education.

We gathered you here today because we believe that young people can be powerful agents of positive change in the area of education. We also believe that it is important to engage and invest in the power of youth.

This event embodies the spirit of YSEALI and AIFIS by providing an opportunity for Southeast Asian youth to work together to explore innovative, unique, and high-impact ways to provide accessible education to Indonesia’s most vulnerable youth.

To help foster enrich conversation, we will hear from organizations that are leading the way to ensure that all youth have access to education.
It is our hope that all of you will walk away from today’s event, inspired and empowered, with the tools and networks essential to creating change in your environment.

According to the Ministry of Education, there are more than 1.8 million children each year who cannot continue their education. This is a result of economic factors, children who are forced to work to support their families, and getting married at an early age.

Furthermore, access to education is also limited in many rural areas where there is an uneven distribution of qualified teachers.
Despite these challenges, you continuously prove that you want to be part of the solution by being here today. You all are leading by example by exploring possible solutions to provide education to all youth, no matter their circumstances.

I strongly encourage everyone here to use this opportunity to connect with others who are passionate about education and present your ideas on tackling the toughest educational challenges today.

Once again, thank you all for coming.  I hope you learn a lot today and I look forward to hearing from Jennifer the results of your efforts.


As Prepared.