By Rudina Vojvoda
NEW YORK, 26 November 2012 – Engaging young people in education policies and programmes is crucial to building peace and promoting social transformation, according to a global policy forum hosted by the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) Policy Forum in Paris, France, last month.
UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke spoke with two of the 250 forum participants – Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in the Republic of South Sudan Dr. Cirino Hiteng Ofuho and youth activist and Director of the African Youth Initiative Network in Uganda Victor Ochen – about the links between education and peacebuilding and the challenges to ensuring active youth participation.
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Education for peacebuilding – thinking beyond the classroom
According to Dr. Hiteng, youth make up the vast majority of the population in the Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest country.
Born out of war, South Sudan faces many challenges as a new nation, despite government efforts to engage youth at the community and national levels, Dr. Hiteng added.
“We are struggling to put infrastructure in place. To reach many people in South Sudan is very difficult, so the only areas where we can easily engage youth are the urban areas. But most of the people are in the rural areas, so there are a lot of challenges,” Dr. Hiteng said.
Mr. Ochen emphasized that it is important that government support youth involvement in peacebuilding and education programmes. “Education for peacebuilding requires thinking beyond the classroom. Governments respond to the needs of communities; governments ensure the good governance; governments need to commit to unite the country,” said Mr. Ochen.
Explaining the ties between education and peacebuilding, Mr. Ochen said, “Whether you are educated formally or informally, you are part of the society and of the development that you are looking for. So, the link between education and peacebuilding is: how do we use the peace we have at hand to promote education, and how do we use education to promote peace?”
The Policy Forum, held 16–18 October 2012, closed with commitments from participants and global leaders to promote meaningful youth engagement in education. Dr. Hiteng’s commitment was to request that South Sudan’s parliament contribute US$1–2 per barrel of oil produced to youth activities.
To learn more about the IIEP Policy Forum, please visit: http://www.planwithyouth.org/.