Education International
Education International

Mandela Day: small actions can change your world

published 18 July 2013 updated 19 July 2013

On 18 July, EI marks International Nelson Mandela Day. 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. This year's Nelson Mandela International Day will focus on shelter, literacy and food security.

International Nelson Mandela Day was created in 2009 by the United Nations (UN). The date is both the anniversary of Mandela’s inauguration as the first President of post-Apartheid South Africa, and the date of his 95th birthday this year.

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 involves 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.

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 continued through to International Mandela Day on 18 July. Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life to the struggle for human rights and social justice.

By devoting 67 minutes of their time – one minute for every year of Mr. Mandela’s public service – people can make a small gesture of solidarity with humanity and take a step towards a global movement for good. 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’. The suggestions cover topics such as health, education and the environment and have items that are applicable to all ages and communities.

South African unions celebrate Mandela DayEI’s affiliates in South Africa will be joining the celebrations. The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) are both donating uniforms to rural schools (the Tshukutswe High School learners in Limpopo and the ! Xu and Khwe in Platfontein, respectively).

“We must remember the enormous debt that we owe to President Nelson Mandela for what he has taught us all about the struggle for freedom and respect for human rights,” said SADTU General Secretary and EI Executive Board member Mugwena Maluleke.  “All of us must join forces and do our best to undo the legacy of apartheid and help to build an inclusive nation through inclusive and human rights education.”

Find out more about Mandela Day here

UN page: Mandela Day Freedom, Justice and Democracy

Mandela Day Libraries Project