FROM THE REGIONAL OFFICE Youth Involvement in Decision-making: An African possibility? - By Jonathan Omondi – WSB-ARO NAIROBI - Baden Powell famously made this powerful statement “Ask the boy”. Looking back, we should not only marvel at the power of this statement, but more fundamentally also actualise it at the different levels of our NSOs. Youth involvement is a process that ensures youth have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. It creates volunteer opportunities for youth to be a part of the changes and decisions being made in their communities. In essence, there are three main levels in which youth involvement takes place. These are: at the unit level, at institutional level within Scouting and within the community. Youth thus need to be encouraged, motivated and nurtured to participate in a balanced manner at all these three levels.
Scouts from Africa at the 9th Africa-Europe Training Course for Youth Organizations MINDELO, CAPE VERDE - From 3rd to 10th May 2013 youth leaders from Africa and Europe met in the Cape Verdean city of Mindelo on Sao Vicente Island for the 9th Africa-Europe Training Course for Youth Organizations. Held under the Joint Management Agreement between EuropeAid and the NorthSouth Centre of the Council of Europe, the course took place in the framework of the 5th African University on Youth and Development. The training is held in partnership with Cape Verdean Youth Federation, the Pan-African Youth Union and the Network of International Youth Organizations in Africa.WOSM Africa is part of this initiaive and was represented by Nelson Ochieng Opany from Kenya Scouts Association. There were also other Scouts in attendance from Cape Verde, Portugal, Angola and Guinea Bissau. The course was aimed at promoting personal development through training as well as capacity building and coordination of youth organizations in global youth work; thus enhancing visibility and sustainability of partnerships between African and European youth. It also created a space to exchange competences and good practices in youth work as well as providing an opportunity for the participants to contribute to the advocacy processes to meet the thematic priorities of the AfricaEurope Youth Platform of MDGs and Post 2015 Development Agenda and Youth Unemployment. The joint theme for the university was ”Democratic Citizenship”. Among the dignitaries who graced the training were the President of Cape Verde, His Excellency Jorge Carlos Fonseca, the Prime Minister, Hon. Jose Maria Neves and the Mayor of Sao Vicente, Hon. Agusto Neves among others. They challenged participants to translate the lessons into actions that can influence policies and support advocacy for the improvement of youth work. They called for a transfer of knowledge and competencies amongst a wider audience of young people to build capacities for further engagements towards a more democratic world.
The power of the Scout method well applied should enable the youth coming into Scouting not just to increase their personal commitment but additionally through shared activities and experiences to gain a deeper understanding and adherence to the Scout law, gain moral autonomy and ultimately acquire life skills and values that enable them practice responsible citizenry. Youth involvement requires the commitment of all Adults in Scouting, as it cannot take place in a context in which genuine youth adult relationship does not thrive. Adult leaders are thus encouraged to employ a cooperative approach when engaging youth in Scouting activities. Though frameworks may be directive in their nature, content should be non-directive to ensure that the voice of the youth is not only heard, but also taken into account. As a good practice, Adults should respect young people’s views and needs and target the right level of participation. In return, the youth should also respect the adults’ view and strive to learn from their experience. National Scout Organizations need to incorporate a youth participation strategy into their mission and vision statements and appropriate policies and procedures, and into all stages of a project, from planning to evaluation. After all, empowering the youth should not be a matter of choice or selective privilege but a matter of necessity and priority as the youth are the “owners” of the Scout movement. NSOs should embrace the concept of customer focus and the youth are ultimately our primary customers. Right? NB: What are some of the good practices, experiences and challenges of youth involvement in your NSO? Please share with us this feedback on email@example.com with the title “Youth Involvement experiences of <name of your NSO>” Some of these experiences may be published in our next editions to inspire other NSOs.
The Africa-Europe Youth Cooperation provides an important platform for global and intercultural dialogue for the promotion of a stronger global youth partnership for development. Supported by the Africa-Europe Youth Cooperation online resource centre (www.aeyco.com), the cooperation presents immense opportunity not only for Africa and Europe but also for the entire world.
© 2012 World Scout Bureau – Africa Regional Office