Letters to change the world
Pupils around the world have written letters explaining how they would change the world and discussed them on the BBC's World Have Your Say with special guest Bill Gates.
You can listen to the programme here. Read extracts below:
Solomeina, Julia, Inna and Svetlana write from School #108 in Ekatarinburg, Russia. Their school is twinned with Fairlands Middle School in the UK
Solomeina writes: "Problems. We can get rid of them only if we find a proper solution. And very often this solution requires money.
I hope that people pretending to be leaders of nations know what should be done. And the problem is not about money, it's about people. I cannot change people, but people can change the world.
I think that most of these problems can be solved by improving the system of education and this in turn could make future generations more capable in making the world healthy, wealthy and wise. I am ready to join the team to develop a new education model."
Inna writes: "Indifference and inertness spoil the world. That's why I think that to change the world, you have to change yourself.
You have to be tolerant, active, thinking, able to make and achieve goals. Then, you will find medicine for diseases; you will study, think, invent and create. You will share your energy with people and lead them.
You have to just stop sitting in your comfortable chairs and start doing something: either act or study, communicate and work."
"[In Russia], our education is free and available to everyone," writes Svetlana.
But university education is not always free. Now it is becoming more and more difficult to enter a good university, so people who don't have money, can't afford to study in a university. Then they don't have a chance to get a well-paid job.
I think that our government should analyse the situation and offer support to those who have good abilities but don't have money to pay for their education."
Julia writes: "I wish our world would be more polite than it is now. We must use our energy for good actions. For example: we must build more museums and other cultural centres. We must remember our past and respect it.
We mustn't destroy our nature. That's incorrect. We have to protect our mountains, forests and lakes. They are very beautiful.
I hate people who drink alcohol, take drugs and destroy humanity themselves. I would destroy all bars and bases with drugs. I would implement cruel punishment for criminals and for drug pushing.
Then, I would stop all the wars... many innocent people die. We mustn't quarrel with each other... We have to learn to find compromises."
Almost a year on from the start of the Libyan uprising, pupils from Benghazi in Libya share how they want to change the world...
Sara writes: "I was not a proud Libyan, I didn't love my country. I was ashamed. I didn't ever think that would change. But it did change, I changed; the hope and the fight in people changed me. Their actions changed me. I have seen that change so I know it is possible.
Right now I am a part of Libya's history and its future. My voice means something, I can shout to the whole world and everybody can hear me. From not ever thinking they had a voice, to just a glimpse of hope; they rose, they fought, they battled. We changed the way we view ourselves. We're equal.
You can become the change. Fight for your right, your voice and your freedom. Accept and change; learn. Become the change!"
Yomna writes: "Being a Libyan teenage girl who has just been through a traumatic revolution which has changed my perspective on life, I am now seeing things in a new light. Unfortunately, I do not like what I see.
All over the world, there are people who are having a hard time dealing with racial and religious discrimination.
Being a Muslim is something I am proud of. I am proud of what I am and nothing can take that away from me. Some people's first impression of a Muslim is one word - terrorist. Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam and I think everyone should know that. The word Islam means peace and a Muslim is a moderate human being, forgiving and compassionate.
Are we really that different? I have accepted everyone around me. Can you do the same?"
"The world would be a much better place if we all started thinking about each other instead of ourselves," writes Rola.
Powerful countries should help other countries to improve instead of always competing to be the best. We should spread our wealth around and give more opportunities to other people. We can all make a difference in this world if we stop thinking selfishly and contribute to other people in meaningful ways.
If I could have any wish it would be to amplify the sense of empathy of the entire human race."
Nourhan writes: "What is change? Change is to become different or to make someone or something different. So, to change the world, we need to keep walking to that sign that reads 'new visions make a new world'.
We need to make a difference. To make a difference we need to be the change we would want to see. To change the world, commitments and dedications should take the place of hatred and miscommunications."
"In my opinion the key to changing the world is in education," writes Omar.
"I propose that we build schools in some of the poorer countries, teaching them basic skills to help them secure a better future. So instead of just teaching people academically, they should also teach them manual skills which will benefit them in everyday life.
I believe there is lots of talent and ability which is hidden in third world countries. There might be the next Albert Einstein who might discover the solution to global warming."
Ibrahim writes:"My solution to changing the world is simple; it's called holistic thinking. This means thinking in a system and realising the bigger picture. If you want to save the forest, you don't just look at the tree, you look at the whole forest and analyse every detail in the hope of fixing the bigger problem.
The way we can get the world thinking holistically is not easy, we must implement it into our daily lives and this must start at school. Holistic thinking can save the world, it helps decision makers with tools that help them in arriving at the preferred decisions."
Pupils from the King Edward VI School in Northumberland Angus write about online bullying, state education and hospital care...
"It's not hard to hold put downs back, so why do people express them?" writes 14-year-old Angus. "Maybe they are insecure or they enjoy the short lived admiration that others give them when they throw insults. Or it could be that they have nothing else to say?
Often, when people express their cruel thoughts, they aim to grab attention. Technology makes this easy. Social networking sites allow views to be shared with hundreds, even thousands of people instantaneously, making them a platform for the spread of hurtful comments.
If only people would recognise the hurt they cause when they put others down. Many people suffer in silence because of hurtful comments directed at them. If only the bullies who inflict this kind of mental torture could switch places with their victims; then they would know how it feels. Or, they could simply think before they speak."
Catherine, 13, writes: "I believe the school system in England is unfair to the lower classes. Children who can afford to go to public school are better supported because of the money they pay, which makes it hard for state schools to keep up with the grades these schools achieve.
It would be better if all schools were state schools, like other countries in Europe, to give everyone a fair chance.
Anyone from different backgrounds could get better jobs, and help to get people back into jobs. I believe everyone should be equal together."
Lorena writes: "If I were to think of one thing that could change our world for the better, it would be to bring back the kind of nurses there used to be in our hospitals.
Hospitals used to be a place for people to rest, be taken care of and get better. Now it's all been modified for industrial purposes; all about making money and not about taking care of the patients. It seems that now care is cut down to the absolute minimum, it's more like having a second doctor.
In the long term there would be fewer patients as they would be properly taken care of and leave much faster, so the money that would have been going towards the hospital can be sent to other charities."
Colegio Certo is a school based in Teresina, in the north of Brazil, and they are linked with Roseberry Sports and Community College in Durham in the UK. Read Teresina pupils' letters below...
Luana, 15, writes: "Instead of focusing on the world's big problems, we should focus on our own happiness. Our energy should be put into love, and education.
We should fight for a new humanity, freeing man from selfishness and violence, improving justice and brotherhood and creating a better future for young people."
Pedro writes: "I would make it so that people understand the meaning of the word 'believe', the force of the word 'power' and the happiness of the word 'achievement'.
When they see a picture of famine in Africa, they shouldn't feel shame but compassion. When they hear about war in the Middle East, they shouldn't accept the discord, and when they see sad things, they shouldn't feel despair.
More than this, they should try to improve their own world and they should feel encouraged by the mission to change one stone at a time. To change the world, it's not necessary to hope, it's necessary to begin."
"When we're kids, we already know the world has problems," says 17-year-old Adriano. "But, as things are simpler when we're younger, we think we can change the world by rubbing a magic lamp. When we become teenagers, we realise that these things don't exist and the world's problems are a lot worse than we thought.
It's when we reach this age that we learn more about the cause of these problems, and then a ray of hope appears and we realise that there are solutions. "
Bedford Academy in the UK is linked with Bishop Okiring secondary school in Kenya's Mount Elgon region. Mudrik and Lauren from Bedford want everyone to have a good education, while David looks at what can be done to help combat climate change...
Lauren writes: "In Kenya, when they arrive at school they are not provided with books, equipment or uniform as a lot of the students cannot afford them. Regardless of this they work hard and make the most out of what they have to gain an education in order to escape poverty.
In the UK education is available and free to everyone. I am currently a sixth form student at Bedford Academy and we are about to move into a £22.5 million new building with the latest IT equipment and science and technology facilities. But many of the students here do not appreciate how lucky we are to have these facilities.
After spending the last year raising awareness within my school, local community and government about the lack of education opportunities specifically for girls in third world countries such as those in Africa, Bangladesh and India I now consider this as something that is very close to my heart, and something I am passionate about changing.
Education is the best way to protect young girls from the dangers such as forced marriages which can take place at the young age of 12 and the dangers of HIV. This is done by giving them the chance to achieve their dreams of an easier and safer life through education."
Mudrik writes: "I believe that to beat poverty we need to educate people and show them how they can manage and sustain their lives. No country has succeeded if it has not educated its people. Not only is education important in reducing poverty, it is also a key to wealth creation…
If developing countries can offer good quality education to kids, the results will be tremendous. Education is considered a 'vaccine' for HIV/AIDS - if children are educated about the disease, they are much less likely to contract the disease. Literacy helps communication and reasoning skills in children. And most importantly, education can help children from poor families break out of poverty.
If these schools had more access to computers and the internet, then they would have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Can you imagine the impact of having the ability to teach more third world youths the skills needed to become a teacher, a philosopher or even a doctor? They could even know the ideas behind freedom and democracy? The impact would be huge!"
David writes: "The effects of climate change can already be seen, but the worst is yet to come with scientists predicting a future average temperature rise of up to 6.4°C by the end of this century. The effects of a rise in temperature this high could be devastating… making many refugees of the earth. With wider spread drought and flooding it will become harder to sustain the world's food sources….
Animal agriculture accounts for 18% of all our greenhouse gas emissions, when we compare this to the transport systems comparatively small contribution of 14% we see just how great of an impact the animal agriculture industry has.
If everyone became a vegan, 10 billion people could be fed on the land vacated by animals that are reared for meat, meaning there could potentially be no more large scale famine if everyone adopted this simple change.
This is why I don't eat meat and why I am in the transition of becoming Vegan. This is because it's bad for the environment, because if we didn't waste all of our crop growing meat, no one would have to go hungry, and so long as we use animals for our personal gain, they will continue to suffer."
Beit Hanoun Preparatory School in the Gaza Strip is twinned with Northwood Primary in the UK. Pupils Tarik and Liath have written about about peace and equality...
Liath writes: "Hi there, It's me, Liath, from Palestine. I would like to thank you because you have given me this chance to write and talk.
What I want from this world is the end of wars and problems, and I want to live in peace and safety wherever I go. Also, I want this world to be open to all the places and we can travel without any obstacles.
Moreover, I want this world to be equal. After I have seen the pictures of the students in London when our teacher visited Northwood school, and how the children enjoy their times, I dream of things like the things they have for me and for all children living in developing countries.
So, I want every child to be treated the same. We want to play computer games, sports, go to different places and have a better education."
Tariq writes: "I am Palestinian and I live in Gaza Strip.
I love my country and I like all the people in this world. I love my planet, the Earth. I hope in the future for all people on the Earth to be united and love each other and made our planet without wars and pollution.
I hope that peace cover all over the world and our planet to be safe from wars, crimes and accidents and people don't hate each other.
I dislike people who don't respect other people in our world and cause suffering for more other people in the world.
I like to live in peace and love and I wish this to be spread between people all the time.
I hope all people to enjoy good health, peace and love all over the world."
Northwood Primary in the UK is twinned with Beit Hanoun Preparatory School in the Gaza Strip. Pupils have written how they think everyone is entitled to a safe place to live and a good education...
Olamide and Gwen, both 9, write: "We strongly believe that everyone has a right to a safe house to live in and 100% of our class think it's terrible to live outside where shelters are usually dirty, small areas.
Everyone has a right to a house to live in and we have a solution to the problem of people being homeless. We can find homeless people and ask them if they know where any of their relatives live. We want to go to the relative's house and ask them if the homeless person can live with them."
Karen and Olumide write: "We realise how lucky we are to go to school. Children in poor places like Afghanistan and Gaza often don't have the opportunity to get a good education. Because of this they can't get a good job, and if they don't get a good job they don't have a chance of earning good money.
Millions of people in the world don't get a good education and without this they may end up living on the streets because they can't earn enough money to pay their bills."
Kenyan pupils from Bishop Okiring school in Mount Elgon, which is twinned with Bedford Academy. Senior pupils have written about their struggle to get an education...
Alex Chebasis, age 21, writes: "As a student I face numerous challenges. I am disabled. I was attacked by polio at a young age which paralysed my hand and leg.
This makes my movement and working very difficult since the facilities we have do not provide for the disabled.
Our school has many shortcomings which need to be addressed: a library to improve reading culture, a school bus to assist in movement of students to different areas.
The school and community need a medical facility to reduce cases of polio and other diseases.
Even with these challenges I am facing as a student, I am determined to complete my education and become a lawyer."
Eglah, age 18, writes: "I wish to be a banker upon completing my education. I come from a very poor family.
Girls in Mount Elgon do not go far in education since the society does not support girls education [for secondary education]. They pay fees for boys but rarely do they pay for girls.
If school fees for girls is paid then more will go to school."
Isaac, age 21, writes: "Education has helped in moulding my character and getting knowledge.
My dream is to become an engineer. However I am facing many challenges as a student and member of the community.
First my parents are poor and unable to raise school fees and other basic items. The only meal I eat is lunch given by the school. The hut I sleep in is almost collapsing yet my parents can't do any repairs.
Our community needs a source of clean water, health centre and school bus for Bishop Okiring."
Rebbecca, age 17, writes: "My vision is to become a lawyer who advocates for girl education and generally for the rights of the girl child.
In my society girls face numerous hurdles as they try to get education. These include female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriages, early pregnancies, forced marriages, HIV and Aids pandemic, cultural stereotypes where parents educate boys at the expense of girls, child labour, [and] girls do a lot of domestic work.
The community needs a school that gives a very special attention to girl education."
Park House Academy in Newbury, UK is twinned with School 79 in Mongolia. Pupils there have come up with ideas to make a difference. Meet the hologram teacher and a new ministry, the Department of Common Sense...
Imogen and Kate write: "Dear World, To change the world we would like to encourage learning in less developed countries.
We believe that there is a lack of qualified teachers in developing countries, however there is a demanding need for better education in economically advancing countries.
Our idea is to produce a portable system - similar to over-head projectors used currently in Britain - to generate holograms of qualified teachers for transportation to countries without the facilities capable of schooling.
The programme would consist of a series of discs, each containing five hours of learning, for five days a week, including holidays. The system will be easily operated... The hologram-projector will be solar powered to ensure a long lifespan.
One of the most prominent courses would be health and survival, educating children with basic life skills.
This would provide young, deprived people with a range of available qualifications to give them more job opportunities all over the world, and allow them to escape poverty."
Gareth & Marcus write: "Common sense is the basis for all intelligence; the basis for all humanity and its advancement and evolution. History, however, teaches us that the human race is somewhat lacking in this aspect. For what other species... is seemingly obsessed with destroying itself in every way possible?
A solution, then? The first step would be to educate people in common sense. This would take the form of a subject taught in schools, perhaps using historical examples and a set of 'guidelines', almost, to making a decision.
A further step would be to make it obligatory for any organisation, including governments, to have a 'Department of Common Sense', which would ultimately be responsible for allowing or vetoing any decision made, based on its logic.
Imagine a world where the politicians with the ability to start war possessed the common sense to choose instead to spend the time and money on developing medical research.
People would come out of a sophisticated education with the ability to make rational decisions in life."
Penny, Emma, Karolina and Josh write: "Hey World, You still friends with the moon? I hope so. Anyway, we have come up with a genius plan...
People who buy petrol are already paying expensive petrol prices.
Therefore, if we charge them just £1 a month to buy a petrol pass, when the pass has expired after a month it must be renewed as those without a pass cannot buy petrol.
The card will track petrol consumption rates and monthly expenditure enabling the user to monitor it. When people realise how much petrol they are using it will be simple to avoid unnecessary usage therefore saving themselves money and cutting down greenhouse gas emissions.
So World, what do you think then? Earning three gigabazzillion dollars without people noticing and cutting down on greenhouse gasses seems a pretty good idea...."