Education International
Education International

Celebrate International Nelson Mandela Day

published 29 June 2011 updated 4 July 2011

Many of EI’s Sixth World Congress participants will arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, in time to mark International Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July. The day honours Mandela’s life-long dedication to social justice, and urges people to take small actions to improve their communities and change the world.

International Nelson Mandela Day was created in 2009 by the United Nations. The date is both the anniversary of Mandela’s inauguration as the first President of post-Apartheid South Africa, and his birthday. The slogan for Mandela Day 2011 is ‘Take Action. Inspire Change. Make Every Day a Mandela Day.’

The day of celebration asks that all people, organisations and governments make a difference in their communities and nations through thoughtful activism. On a local level this implies doing good deeds or dedicating time to a positive project. Globally, it urges a commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals and to improving living conditions worldwide.

EI President, Susan Hopgood, said: “Nelson Mandela’s fight for peace and equality should inspire people around the globe to adopt a similar commitment to improving our world. As EI members gather in South Africa for our World Congress, we urge them to remember that our work is to promote a just world where education is a tool against oppression. We should also keep in mind that living out these values on a daily basis, as Nelson Mandela does, is just as important in promoting peace as legislation and diplomacy is.”

Mandela Mondays

Mandela Day is part of a longer campaign to inspire individuals to make community service a regular part of their lives. For example, people are invited to participate in Mandela Mondays by taking at least one action to benefit their communities during every Monday of the campaign.

Mandela Mondays began on 1 June and will continue through to International Mandela Day on 18 July.

To generate ideas on how individuals can take that small step towards a better world, the Nelson Mandela Foundation provides a list of ‘67 Ways to Change Our World’ on their website. The suggestions cover topics such as health, education and the environment and have items that are applicable to all ages and communities. The decision to provide 67 actions stems from Mandela’s 67-year-long work as an activist.

Events promoting this year’s Mandela Day began in May with a university student’s panel hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and 46664, an organisation promoting HIV and AIDS awareness, and other humanitarian initiatives. More events will take place over the next three months and include ‘Bikers for Mandela’ in July, a cycle run from Johannesburg to Durban on 21-28 August.­

The EI World Congress will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 22-26 July.

Click here to visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation website for more information and tips for getting involved.