Give Us Something to Work For

IMG_1845

So far in these blog posts I’ve talked about how sports and education can be used as tools to empower youth and help break down violent and nonviolent conflict from building up. The next topic I want to talk about is employment and youth involvement. For those who don’t have an education its hard to find high paying jobs, especially for those in developing countries who drop out at a young age to join the labor market and find that their prospects in moving up are immensely small. Instead just as talked about in my last post they are more much more likely to be recruited into gangs.

Researchers have begun to study the interaction between youth engagement and positive development. The engagement that we are referring to is defined as “meaningful participation and sustained involvement of a young person in and activity, with a focus outside of him of herself.” According to youth development theory, young people need to be surrounded by adult support. This means instead of being looked down upon for their age and inexperience, they instead need to be mentored and supported, valued for their worth because ultimately they will one day be the ones in charge. Those who are brought up in resilient communities are more likely to adapt and overcome adversities and challenge as well as formulate and develop better relationships.  This stems from the second theory which is the theory of attachment. Empowered youth who are allowed to participate in their communities are much more likely to become engaged in community activities and develop skills required to be effective leaders in life. They are more likely to show better problem-solving and decision-making skills when compared to youth who are not engaged. When youth are able to engage in their community it becomes a place where they feel safe. One of the most important things to take away is that youth who are being empowered and engaged in a community are less likely to to use drugs and alcohol, less likely to drop out of school, and less likely to be involved in criminal behavior. Nothing benefits a community more then incorporating young adults into it! (Texas State)

A report released by the Global Partnership for Children & Youth in Peacebuilding last Spring presented research that reveled just how important the role that children can play in peacebuilding. This report found that the involvement of youth in peacebuilding increases peaceful cohabitation, reduces discrimination and violence, and increases support to vulnerable groups. So what does it take to do this?  3 easy steps. First, engage children as peace builders from a young age. Empower them and show that they are worth something and can do anything they put their minds to. Secondly, encourage multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder efforts to support children as peace builders. Lastly, we need to engage children and youth as partners, we can’t look at them as just children to be encouraged and mentored, we have to actually get them working at the forefront of these problems. (GPCYP 2015)

An article published by Al Jazeera showcased two two university graduated who have been placing pigs painted yellow in the streets as a political statement to show the greed of their government, telling their brothers and sisters that it is up to them to solve their problems because their government is full of greed and will not save them. According to the article Uganda has one of the highest proportions of young people in the world. This followed some statistics that I have quoted below.

     “A  joint study done by the International Labor Organization and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics puts the youth unemployment rate at 5 percent, with the number rising to more than 13 percent when taking into account “youth who are without work and available to work but not actively seeking work.” But independent studies put the number much, much higher. ActionAid surveyed more than 1,000 people and pegged youth unemployment at more than 60 percent while the African Development Bank has a study finding that unemployment for people 15-24 in Uganda is 83 percent.” Another study posted in the article showcased how  Over the past decade, Uganda’s economy, bolstered by generous foreign direct investment, grew faster than the median growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa, but somehow less than 10 percent of its youth have found work in this new bustling economy. “

While some say the lack of youth employed stems from the youth turning their nose to the less desirable jobs, the young adults seeking employment blames it on the corruption, nepotism, lack of reforms that their government has left them with. (Choksi 2015) This instance highlights just how important is is to include and empower youth within a community, without this you only see a community dividing itself.

We talked about education in my last post, and above we are still talking about those with college degrees that are seeking better employment. I wanted to finish my post off by stressing an alternative for those without a means for college education, or even one at all. The New York Times posted an article about bringing back the concept of apprenticeships and how it can be used to reduce youth unemployment rates. With an aging population and trade and skilled jobs once being seen as a thing of the past, they now more then ever are in need. (Bray 2014) This career rout could potentially be a way out for those who lack an education to pursue certain careers while still benefiting a community and economy in the long run. So maybe instead of going on our mission trips or service trips and building houses and wells for those in need, we instead teach them skills that allow them to learn how to do these things for themselves so they are better able to pass these skills onto their community and are better able to sustain themselves.

 

Work Cited:

Bray, Chad. “Apprenticeships Could Help Reduce Youth Unemployment, Business Leaders Say.” DealBook. New York Times, 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 July 2016.

Choksi, Mansi. “Yellow Pigs Make a Political Point about Youth Unemployment in Uganda.” Yellow Pigs Highlight Youth Unemployment In Uganda. Al Jazeera, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 17 July 2016.

State, Texas. “The Positive Effects of Youth Community Engagement.” Texas State. Texas School Safety Center, Fall 2013. Web.

McGill, Michael, and Claire O’Kane. “The Positive Contributions of Youth to Peacebuilding.” Global Partnership for Children & Youth in Peacebuilding. Global Partnership for Children & Youth in Peacebuilding, July 2015. Web.

 

Education Only for the Few, the Lucky, and the Privileged

10-barriers-to-education-around-the-world-2__1500x670_q85_crop_subsampling-2

 

I believe that one way that we can combat the conflict we see in underdeveloped areas doesn’t involve guns or soldiers, but simply education. According to a report released by the UN, 48% of the worlds population is under the age of 24. Most of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa’s population are made up predominantly young people. With youth being vulnerable in war-torn societies and the lack of education and employment, many see their only option for survival being to join gangs or become child soldiers. (UNOY) So the question I purpose is can education help combat conflict and reduce violent crime?

 

In 2010 one report states that 6 people are murdered per day in Honduras, 8 in El Salvador and 14 in Guatemala.  While these statistics are especially grime when we learn that a report realize by the WHO estimated that the homicide rates for young men in these countries were among the highest. In Rio de Janeiro, more then 6,000 youth between the ages of 10-18 have been estimated to be involved with gangs and the almost 4 million incarcerated though that region are young, uneducated men with little to none labor market skills. (Dammert)

 

This is the sad reality for many young adults and children in low income, underdeveloped areas. According to an article reported by BBC there’s about a 100-year gap between the developed and underdeveloped world (Winthrop). This is mostly because the only ones who are allowed to access forms of education are the few, the lucky and the privileged. Even though these kids are enrolled it doesn’t actually account for if their actually learning anything. It also doesn’t look at the lives of each of these children. Most of the programs set up are built from a western perspective. The problem with this is we don’t have to worry about retrieving water from a well, or even the miles needed to be walked just to get to and from class, and while school is suppose to be free that doesn’t account for the supplies needed that most families just don’t have the resources or income to acquire.. While education in the sense of books smarts is hugely important, it only goes so far and children often times drop out before they reach the 5th grade and a large percentage of them still can’t even read.

_82640094_schoolyears549

     So what can be done about this? I believe there has to be a different approach to education in the developing world, but don’t take my word for it. I found an interesting paper written by two professors, one at Rice University and the other at Portland State University and they had and interesting perspective on redefining education in the developing world. Their ideas focused around schooling these children with things that ae relevant in their lives, not the Western model of education that is often times taught. They believe that students in these impoverished regions don’t need academic skills so much as life skills that enable them to improve their quality of life. They do this through teaching life skills like financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills; health maintenance and management skills; and administrative capabilities, such as teamwork, problem solving, and project management. (Epstein and Yuthas) The article was really interesting and I encourage anyone reading this with interest in this topic to check it out!

 

One thing that researching this has taught me is to check my privilege and be thankful for the educational opportunities that I have. Coming from a middle of the pack, middle class family I’ve always had to work for everything that I wanted, especially attending a school like Clark. As I reflect on my own pathetic self-wallowing that I have been doing these last 6 weeks while working 40+ hours a week and finishing up my classes. I realize just how lucky I am even when I haven’t always felt so. I am privileged to have had an education that prepared me for university. I am privileged enough to have a career opportunity that allows me to pay for the school I am attending. I am privileged to have transportation for work and school. I am privileged to attended a school that will prepare me for the world ahead. I am privileged when so many before me are not, so if you’re reading this way after the semester has ended or maybe you stumbled upon this on accident I encourage you to check your privileged even if you don’t think you have any and use that to fuel you in fighting the inequalities that so many face.

 

Work Cited:

Epstein, Marc, and Kristi Yuthas. “Redefining Education in the Developing World (SSIR).” Redefining Education in the Developing World. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 July 2016.

Winthrop, Rebecca. “Global ‘100-year Gap’ in Education Standards.” BBC News. BBC, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 July 2016.

United Network of Young Peacebuilders. Agreed Language on Youth, Peace and Security. Rep. New York: United Nations, 2012. Print.

Dammert, Lucia. “Can Education Reduce Violent Crime?” Americas Quarterly. N.p., Fall 2010. Web. 15 July 2016.

Development and How It Can Be Used To Defuse Violent Conflict

workshop16-1

I believe development to be a crucial tool in combating long standing violent conflict. Conflict disproportionately affect the most vulnerable groups in society, particularly women and children who constitute 80% of the civilian deaths in conflict.  An estimated 3.6 million people have been affected by the ongoing crisis in Darfur. Some 1.8 million children have been affected by the conflict, including over 15,000 children associated with armed forces and groups. In Colombia, an estimated 14,000 girls and boys were used as child soldiers by armed groups. In Somalia, an estimated 200,000 children have carried a gun or been involved with a militia since the 1991 collapse of central government. (Toole 2006) For survivors, conflicts have a devastating impact on their lives. Youth are an essential part in peace building, they are the hope for tomorrow and deserve the right to have a say in their rights, safety, health, and overall well being. While it is often times hard to change the mind sets of those who have grown accustomed to hatred of an opposing party, I don’t believe it is to late for the youth of this upcoming generation to pave a path for peace. I believe it is through the strategic use of development projects that this can be done and with these blogs posts I hope to give you all some insight into why I believe this to be the case. The UN has taken note of this and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth which has begun promoting youth polices. Which is where I’ll be getting most of my policy briefs from.

There tends to be this misconception around conflict resolution and what it actually means. We often times think of armies going in to stop the violent conflict, but this isn’t an effective way at handling conflict. It only adds fuel to the fire. So what is conflict resolution then? Well, it aims to transform violent conflict into nonviolent forms of political and other kinds of change. (Ramsbotham 2011) This can’t be done by force, it can only be done by listening to what these opposing groups want and need. This is where development projects come in. They’re essentially the middle man. Their tasked with the job of getting two or more opposing parties to work together and provide a safe space that will ultimately benefit both parties. One of my favorite examples and projects that shows this is Peace Players.

Peace Players is a year-round sports activities program which brings together children from opposite sides of religious, ethnic and cultural divides to develop friendship and mutual respect. They use basketball as a tool to bridge divides, develop leaders, and change perceptions. This has succeeded in uniting Palestinians and Israelis. (Castillo, 2010) 

A really awesome example at what sports can do to bring people together is shown by a joint netball team of Palestinians and Israelis women. They will for the first time in history come together to compete in a tournament in Eilat with 2,000 other players from across the world. This team showcases the importance of not only being able to coexist, but also the power sports has at being able to bring people from all different walks of life together.  (Sinai 2016)

While this is just a brief introductory I look forward to diving in deeper  to the positive and even not so positive outcomes that development projects have played in attempts at defusing conflict.

Sources Cited:

Castillo, Jorge. “PeacePlayers International Lends Assist to Groups with Long-standing Conflicts.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 07 July 2010.                                                                                                     Ramsbotham, Oliver, Woodhouse, Tom, and Miall, Hugh (2011). Contemporary conflict resolution (3rd ed.). Malden, MA: Polity Press.         Sinai, Allon. “Israelis, Palestinians Team up for Netball Tournament.” The Jerusalem Post, 17 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.                         Toole, Daniel. “Peace-Building Strategies: Transition from Relief to Development: Why Children and Early Intervention Matter.” (2006): n. pag. UNICEF, Oct. 2006. Web.