Posted: 00:00 IST
A partnership between NUI Galway's UNESCO Chair in Children Youth and Civic Engagement at the Child and Family Research Centre, Foróige, the National Youth Development Organisation and Alan Kerins Projects, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) will be launched today, Monday, 21 June, 2010, in NUI Galway by the Minister of State with special responsibility for Overseas Development, Peter Power T.D.
Through the work of NUI Galway's Professor Pat Dolan, the UNESCO Chair in Children Youth and Civic Engagement at the Child and Family Research Centre, the overarching aim of this partnership is to further the long standing commitment of UNESCO to address the challenges facing youth and to foster young people's participation in the development of their societies, with an initial focus on Zambia where each organization has well-established links.
As a first step the partnership intends to initiate a pilot project in the Kaoma district in the Western Province of Zambia targeting youth affected by HIV/AIDS. The partnership will encompass activities across the core areas of the Chair's work which includes: research, teaching, policy, advocacy and programme development.
The partnership is currently developing a model for a youth centre, which integrates youth work and sport. Using sport as the initial medium to reach out to young people, the proposed youth centre will provide a forum for youth to actively participate in a range of activities that extend beyond sport, including active citizenship and youth leadership programmes and life skills training. The partnership will also work closely with the University of Zambia to further facilitate access, sharing and adaption of knowledge between the two regions.
The NUI Galway UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement through dedication to practice and policy orientated research on youth, along with its partners, Foróige, Alan Kerins Projects, an NGO working directly with children and young people in Zambia investing in health, education and sports services, are well placed to work in partnership towards furthering UNESCO's goals.
Established in 2009, the UNESCO Chair is engaged in forming alliances between academic institutions and non-governmental organizations, youth work professionals and UN System agencies with a shared interest in promoting civic engagement for children and youth. The associated programme of work promotes the educational value of civic engagement and highlights its potential as a means of fostering resilience and enhancing social support networks for disadvantaged children and youth. Increasing access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes and promoting youth participation and leadership are key areas employed by governments and civic society organizations working with youth at risk.
As part of its ethos, NUI Galway has a specific commitment to embracing community and civic engagement as a core part of its mission. Welcoming the announcement, NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, said "We look forward to fruitful co-operation with our partners on the ground in Zambia and to building new structures for co-operation with universities and NGOs through an exchange of research, training and policy initiatives."
Speaking at the launch today, Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, T.D., said: "I am delighted to launch this partnership between the Alan Kerins Project, the UNESCO Chair of Children, Youth and Civic Engagement and Foróige. It is a clear demonstration of the commitment and enthusiasm within Ireland to find new and dynamic ways to assist those living in poverty and to end suffering in the developing world".
"All of us gathered here today share a deep interest in Zambia, which is a priority country for Irish Aid, the Government's programme for overseas development. The key aim of Ireland's long-term development programme in Zambia is the reduction of chronic poverty and inequality. To this end, we work with in partnership with the Government of Zambia and other donors", the Minister added.
"The Irish Aid programme in Zambia is focused on improving the quality of and access to education; reducing poverty in a coordinated and effective manner; tackling the scourge of HIV and AIDS and building good governance in order to ensure that the Zambian people are fully informed of and engaged in their country's development.
"I know that we share many of the same goals and look forward to learning more about the experiences and successes of this innovative partnership over the months and years to come", concluded Minister Power.
According to Alan Kerins, "All of us involved with the Alan Kerins Projects are embracing this new initiative with all our resolve and efforts. In welcoming our new strategic partners, UNESCO and Foróige, I am confident that our focus on Youth and Civic Engagement will continue to inspire us in supporting our friends in Zambia through concrete plans and programmes. The world would otherwise have forgotten these communities were it not by chance that I visited them in 2005. I witnessed firsthand their severe daily challenges and promised to help their plight. We are indebted and welcome this new initiative through genuine friendship which will help us all grow our activities for the betterment of our brothers and sisters".