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Young champions of South Asia

Jan 18, 2010

A United Nations publication, Young Champions for Education: A Progress Review, underlines the significance of youth participation in development programs. It highlights the contribution made under the young champions for education model in South Asia, promoting equal and quality education.

Young Champions for Education: A Progress Review

Publisher: UNGEI & UNICEF, 2010

The concept of youth participation is emerging and becoming a central idea in the youth development discourse. It is a fresh way of engaging young people as central actors in the development equation – architects of their own personal development and in that of their communities and society in general.

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The Young Champions movement within the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) in South Asia is one such programme which is being carried forward by young people who believe in and work toward a vision of a world  where all girls and boys are empowered through quality education to realise their full potential and contribute to transforming societies where gender equality becomes a reality.

This study is a review of the progress of activities of the Young Champions for Education model in South Asia. Under implementation since 2007, the Young Champions are spokespersons for girls’ education and gender equality, and represent the UNGEI movement at community, national and, for some, regional levels. They have worked closely with governments and other stakeholders to create a multi‐stakeholder partnership.

An important observation emerging from this study is that the South Asia Young Champions movement offers opportunities, motivation and capacity‐building for young people. The strength of the model lies in the conceptual guidance provided by UNGEI, thus allowing country level models to evolve to suit country‐specific needs and contexts.

Innovative and effective strategies for youth engagement vary by country and include:

  • Grassroots activities initiated and led by young people, or in partnership with caring adults, represent opportunities for engagement. This is clearly seen in Young Champions’ work in Nepal, Pakistan and other South Asian countries where Young Champions are critical change agents in their own communities.
  • Motivation for youth to be engaged in something that benefits people other than themselves. Young people become aware about issues that affect them and their communities – they get to grasp the nature of the complexities and possible solutions.
  • Skills and capabilities to do more. As young persons gain skills, experience and knowledge, they also increase their ability to effect change. All young champions are provided with regular training to build their capacity to become the change agents in their own communities.

It identifies five issues that UNGEI South Asia and UNICEF COs should take into consideration with regard to the Young Champions model:

  • Mainstreaming versus scaling‐up of Young Champions programmes
  • Branding versus identity of the Young Champions
  • Replication of similar types of programme at Country Offices
  • Lack of proper sections within Country Offices to oversee Young Champions programmes
  • Sustainability of the Young Champions movement.

Various aspects have been taken into consideration in mainstreaming/scaling up the Young Champions programmes at each country level in the document.

Source : UNGEI
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