International Child Development Initiatives (Dr Nico van Oudenhoven)
24 juli 2019
1. If you look at the 3 regions that we focus on (MENA, Horn of Africa, Sahel) – can you mention specific trends per region which are relevant for the strategy. Are there, for example, specific sectors where there is much to be gained? Or specific skills that young people lack in a certain region or sector?
Perhaps the most striking phenomenon is that when young people are actively engaged in cultural activities that are relevant to their lifestyles and at the same time rooted and informed, but not restricted, by their ethnic and social heritage, they show a strong sense of self-confidence, a 'we can do mentality'. Culture is here widely defined as to include such activities as dancing, making music, working with nature, cooking and eating meals together, non-competitive sports. In our 'Culturised Early Childhood Development' [Antwerp: Garant] we demonstrate that this approach works for young boys and girls and benefits them in all developmental domains and their overall well-being. We have observed anecdotal evidence with young people in Shu'fat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem. The all -girls football team inin the village of Deir Jarir, outside Ramallah is another example.
2. Do you have examples of successful "scaled up" initiatives / programs in the field of education and work to increase youth employment, and if so, which ones? Or do you know of certain successful initiatives that are worth scaling up in the 3 regions mentioned?
Only with Early Childhood Education programmes on the West Bank. But we work with a particular philosophy in other parts of the world which may provide some cues. In earlier publications on 'scaling up' we have cautioned against the 'cookie cutter' approach and argued that local and contextual features always have to be taken into account. It is perhaps more useful to create and sustain 'epistemic communities' at various levels. These epistemic communities should be open to all people with proven commitments to the issues at stake, and, critically, not be hierarchical. Young people, in particular, should be welcomed.
3. Do you have specific ideas or additions about how we can make young people part of this policy? How do we ensure that they participate in the implementation of this strategy?
Yes, for sure. It's our experience that when young people [female and male] are taken seriously, listen to, and part of a climate in which everybody assumes the double role of teacher and learner, things will move on. The strategy is fairly simple: make sure they are there. Ask them how to approach them, how to invite them, how to relate to them.
4. Anything else you feel is worth mentioning?
There's an old saying: a person should and is never without work, often payment is lacking.
For me, one of the most effective sources of inspiration is to look at 'examples of positive deviance'. This is that in every situation, however sad, rotten and desperate there positive exceptions. Exceptions that are locally contrived -no external inputs by 'experts- and locally sustained and accepted.