Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ICP Executive Director Visits Pakistan, Speaks on Youth Service

"Through global citizenship we can create better-educated citizens from many countries, greater opportunities for prosperity and a foundation for a more peaceful world”
–ICP Executive Director Susan Stroud

Last week, ICP Executive Director Susan Stroud journeyed to Pakistan to participate in a regional symposium and visit with various youth organizations in Islamabad and Lahore.

A 2008 study by the Brookings Institution revealed that there are nearly 94 million Pakistani’s under the age of 25, 36 million of whom are between the ages of 15-24. To some, this represents an almost unmanageable number of people to employ, feed and house. For ICP and our partners, it represents vast untapped potential.

While in Pakistan, Susan met with many groups to discuss the power of youth to promote social change, including students completing service-learning projects at several schools, members of the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network Youth Group and the inspiring youth organization Bargad.

Bargad clearly demonstrates what is possible when youth come together. Founded by a group of college students in 1997, Bargad works to promote youth development and engagement in Pakistan, especially among women. The group has completed dozens of projects, and is currently working on empowering girls in Gujranwala, promoting democratic values in Lahore, improving waste management across the country and many other ventures.

Susan also spoke with the press, and had a guest spot on the popular Pakistani TV show Witness with Quatrina, where she discussed methods to increase youth civic engagement.

In addition, Susan gave a keynote address at the Youth in Action for Global Change regional symposium, which was organized by the British Council, Pakistan. The goal of the symposium was to develop a workable strategy for promoting engagement and global citizenship in order to combat youth radicalization. Youth activists, policy makers, and government officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Qatar, the United States and the UK were in attendance.

In her speech, Susan emphasized the importance of global citizenship and the tremendous impact young people can have on development. ”Harnessing the energy of young people to work with people of other nations will strengthen our ability to tackle global challenges and lead to a more secure world” Susan said. “Through global citizenship we can create better-educated citizens from many countries, greater opportunities for prosperity and a foundation for a more peaceful world”.

Susan mentioned several organizations that were working towards a more global citizenry, including well known organizations such as the Peace Corps, as well as smaller organizations such as School Girls Unite (which was one of 22 organizations highlighted in ICP’s Innovations in International Volunteering report produced for v in 2008). The young people in these groups, and the millions more like them, are demonstrating how powerful the forces of change can be when wielded in the hands of youth.

Young people across the globe, from Pakistan to Zambia, the UK to Chile, are connecting to wield this power. What are you doing? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Youth Service Policy and Education in Argentina

In 2006, the Government of Argentina passed a law obliging the inclusion of youth volunteer activities in education. Listed under article 32, the law requires “the organization of youth volunteering activities and service educational projects, to cooperate in community development, in the frame of the institutional education project.”

Similarly, article 132 calls on educational programs for “maintaining regular and systematic bonds with the local environment, putting into action extension activities, such as service-learning actions.”

In November 2010, the Latin American Center for Service-Learning (CLAYSS) released an update on the implementation of these policies. The update states that, in November 2009, the Federal Council agreed that new high school programs will include mandatory Projects of Socio-Community Service. These projects will give all students the opportunity to get involved in service actions at least once during their school years, to learn from the active exercise of their citizenship, and to put into action their knowledge and capacities to serve their communities.

The new requirement was created in response to research conducted by CLAYSS and Washington University in St. Louis, which analyzed the efficacy of pilot programs that have been in place in Argentina since 2000.

CLAYSS’s announcement stated that about 15,000 Argentinean educational institutions have developed service experiences in the past few years, prior to the call for the creation of mandatory programs. Their research also shows that practices which articulate service-learning have contributed to their learning and school retention and strengthened citizenship of involved students, as well as diminished the amount of students who repeat a year in school.

Here at ICP, we are well aware of the benefits that service-learning can have on students in school. For years, we’ve been working with governments around the world to build new, or improve existing, national youth service policies (NYSP), like Argentina’s. For example, in 2006, we published a policy scan on NYSP in 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. We hope that, with the help of this and other ICP resources, many more governments will include service-learning in their educational systems, as Argentina has successfully done.


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