36 young persons from 14 provinces in Mongolia have been trained within the last 10 months and they are now equipping their peers with skills and knowledge to live as responsible citizens in their transition into adulthood. Developed and sponsored by UNESCO with the Mongolian Education Alliance (MEA) and other partners, the ongoing pyramid project is expected to enhance the capacity of approximately 500 youths with information and skills in claiming their rights, effective communication, gender-based violence, non-violent conflict resolution and dealing with adversity, by December 2015.
The Programme is structured into two parts: first the training of trainers and second providing support to the trainers to educate peers in their provinces (aimags). The training of young men and women took place in November 2014 and in August 2015, where 16 and 20 participants were coached respectively. During the trainings, topics addressed were knowing and claiming your rights; fundamentals of leadership; good governance and participation; non-violent conflict resolution; human rights and equality; dealing with adversity and challenges. The pedagogical approach applied was participatory and innovative and based on a training manual, “How to become a responsible young leader”, prepared by Anne de Neck and Didier Lozet, from the Belgian firm D&T Development and Training, in collaboration with UNESCO and MEA.
The same manual is used by the trainers in conducting their own trainings at local level. Emphasis here is placed on the importance of civic engagement, by providing youth with means to express opinions on social development and changes, and on teaching skills to influence others.
Actions taken by the first batch of young trainers have already brought results in the provinces of Bulgan, Selenge, Darkhan-Uul and Orkhon in Mongolia. Thanks to on site local training sessions organized in cooperation with the local Social Development Offices, 120 people, 70 men and 50 women, in the age range from 19 to 39, were beneficiaries in the four aimags. The target is to stimulate a ‘multiplier effect’, where trained youth will continue to inform and educate their peers even in remote and disadvantaged areas. Youth in the provinces are also encouraged to engage in civic and democratic activities through volunteer clubs, to join humanitarian actions, to set up mobile libraries, to keep information boards and organize debates, to publish newspapers or post updates on social media and to work with local government offices to raise awareness on youth issues.
Youth can drive the change, but organizations and public authorities must provide the right tools to facilitate them to do so. An outstanding example is represented by the Orkhon team of trainers who succeeded in raising 120 million Mongolian Turigs MNT (approximately 60,000 US $) in funds from the local City Council to support the plan of establishing sports facilities outside rural secondary schools. With the capacity made available through the Programme, it is hoped that youth civic participation and engagement in Mongolia will increase further.
The founding values and objectives of this Youth Peer Trainers Programme are advocated by UNESCO’s Operational Strategy on Youth 2014-2021 which recognizes the critical “importance of young men and women in driving the change and claiming respect for fundamental freedoms and rights; improving conditions for themselves and their communities; actively seeking opportunities to learn, work and participate in decisions that affect them.” *
* From “Operational Strategy on Youth (2014-2021)”, UNESCO, Paris, 2013, paragraph 1.