Representatives of NGOs working with youth communities in South and South East Asia came together in Bangkok, Thailand from 17 to 19 May 2016 to launch Phase II of their successful project “Youth-led Sustainable Community Development” and to plan the work ahead.
The project, funded by the Government of Japan, aims to empower youth as agents of change by supporting them to practice sustainable community development through a six-step framework: ‘Imagine,’ ‘See,’ ‘Think,’ ‘Act,’ ‘Showcase,’ and ‘Evaluate’.
The Bangkok workshop was organized by the Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU, Japan) in cooperation with UNESCO Bangkok, with the participation of BRAC (Bangladesh); the Centre for Environmental Education (CEE, India); the People’s Initiative for Learning and Community Development (PILCD, Philippines); the Sanjh Preet Organization (Pakistan); and the XL Future Leaders Program (Indonesia). Professor James Allen Dator, Futures Studies expert from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, joined the lively discussion and provided advice to strengthen the project’s future-oriented approach.
The project was first initiated in Pakistan by ACCU and Sanjh Preet Organization in 2014. Youth groups in the communities of Village Dhoni, Chah Wahab, Machora Awana and Kot Thakray analyzed community issues, reflected on how to address them, and took actions to transform the community. These actions included organizing school enrolment campaigns to reduce out-of-school children; initiating a mini-bank to support young people in starting small businesses; convincing the government to construct paved roads; organizing cultural events to promote peace and harmony; supporting the capacity-development of farmers to enhance the productivity of the land and livestock; and organizing health camps to provide free medical assistance.
“The project responds squarely to the GAP Priority Action Areas on Youth and Community,” explains Ms Miki Saito, ACCU Programme Specialist. Mr Pervaiz Akhtar, CEO of Sanjh Preet Organization, adds “It also responds to the Priority Action Area on Learning Environment. The actions of youth lead to an improved community environment, which in turn creates a learning environment conducive for building a sustainable future.”
In 2015, BRAC introduced the six-step framework to Bangladesh. This year, three more countries have joined ‒ India, Indonesia and the Philippines. According to Mr Ramon Mapa, Executive Director of PILCD, the project will add a new perspective to the ongoing work of his organization in the Philippines. “We wanted a stronger reflection component towards building a better future, and the six-step framework seems to provide just that,” he says. Mr Ramesh Savalia, who joined the workshop from CEE in India, agrees. “We have been working for many years to promote community-based education for sustainable development, but we have not tried out a structured framework for youth, especially a future-oriented approach like the six steps. This is a good opportunity for us to learn and share.”
The project partners will meet again in October to report on their progress and to exchange experiences and lessons learned.
Contact: Ushio Miura, UNESCO Bangkok (email@example.com)