7 November 2012
During Youth Work Week (5-11 November 2012), youth workers from across the Commonwealth talk about their work to support and empower young people
Mr Tipoki is a Development Officer with Solomon Islands’ Youth Development Division at the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs. He supervises, plans, co-ordinates and implements projects under the Solomon Islands' National Youth Policy.
The Commonwealth Youth Programme's Youth Work Education and Training programme is dedicated to professionalising youth work in Commonwealth member countries.
This includes establishing codes of ethics for youth workers; ensuring that their occupational standards and specialised training are recognised by their governments, so that these competencies become the basis for employment into any youth work field across the region; and organising youth workers into professional associations.
Mr Tipoki began his youth work training as a youth volunteer and advocate in his community and church. He used the ideas and concepts learned through his voluntary experiences later in his studies for a Commonwealth Diploma in Youth and Development Work, which he completed at home through distance education.
After graduating in 2005, he pursued work in the government‘s youth sector to use his knowledge and skills “to continually learn and flourish as a youth development worker”.
“It took a lot of patience, commitment and determination on my part, to finally achieve my goal of completing a Diploma that qualified me to be a youth worker,” said Mr Tipoki.
“The Diploma strengthened my capacity to better understand constructively the practical aspects of youth development work and develop the knowledge and skills I need to deal effectively with youth issues. It empowered me to show compassion and recognise the plight of young people and children and has motivated me as a role model to make a positive difference in my own personal life. The relevancy of this training continues today to improve my work in being able to offer professional services and engage with young people.”
Since joining the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs in 2006, Mr Tipoki has worked with various community and church youth groups, including young people in the rural and remote areas of Solomon Islands, establishing links and networks at provincial and community levels.
He has worked closely with regional organisations such as the Commonwealth Youth Programme Pacific Centre, based in Honiara, Solomon Islands, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in the Pacific. These collaborations gave him a “wealth of experience” working on regional and international engagements on youth development programmes within the Africa, Asia and South Pacific regions.
Mr Tipoki observed that the complexity of youth issues compounded by the rapid socio-economic changes of today requires youth work to be innovative.
He added that youth work in the Solomon Islands and across the Pacific needs to remain focused, relevant and effective in order to address existing issues such as the high rate of youth unemployment and crime, and emerging issues such as climate change.
“I believe we can all successfully work with young people if given the relevant training and experiences. We need more leaders who are willing and committed to help young people realise their potential, engage them actively in developing their skills and involve them in decision-making so that they are better able to make wise decisions. We must train youth to solve problems, develop resilience and build self-confidence to become responsible citizens.
“It is my appeal that all stakeholders in Commonwealth countries who are involved in youth development work - whether you are working, studying at a university or college or a volunteer - have the spirit and passion to work with young people and help them grow into better adults. What kind of leaders are we preparing today as we work with our young people? We need to make positive differences.”
Jules Pascal has worked for the Youth Development Division of Dominica for 31 years and served as its director since 2001.
He has played a key role in the Commonwealth’s and CARICOM’s (Caribbean Community) major youth development initiatives over the years, including the development and delivery of the Commonwealth Diploma in Youth Development Work programmes, the establishment of the Dominica Youth Business Trust and the country’s national youth policy.
Mr Pascal also introduced and promoted volleyball to communities in the South Eastern District of Dominica. He managed the national female volleyball teams from 1989 to 1994.
He is also a member of the UPHEAVALS Cultural Group which produced many local cultural songs, including the popular 'DEYE HAZIE-LA'. The song, which he wrote and composed, won first place in the National Creole Song Contest in Dominica.
Right from the start of his career, Mr Pascal worked to create spaces for young people to interact.
While teaching at the Grand Fond Primary School in his home village from 1970 to 1980 he became an active youth leader in groups and clubs in his community and Dominica’s Eastern District. He also revived the Grand Fond Scout Troop, becoming Scout Master in 1972 and a member of the National Scout Association.
During his membership of Dominica’s National Youth Council he promoted volunteerism and led the community disaster relief team following Hurricane David in 1979, repairing damaged houses, restoring water systems and clearing roads, among others.
It was while working at the Youth Development Division in Dominica’s Eastern District, that he completed the Commonwealth Youth Programme’s (CYP) Diploma in Youth Development Work.
“The Diploma studies played a great role in shaping my personality and provided me with the necessary skills and approaches to my future development,” he said.
“As a result of the training my leadership, communication, programme development and planning skills were greatly enhanced. The establishment of strategic relationships and importance of team work became an integral part of my focus in youth development work.”
Later in his career, as country-coordinator for CYP’s Certificate and Diploma courses, Mr Pascal would encourage hundreds of young people and youth workers to be trained under the programme.
Mr Pascal played a key role in the design of a project for four youth enterprise centres in Dominica at Grand Bay, Castle Bruce, Dublanc and Roseau, which was successful in gaining European funding. Thanks to the centres over 6,000 Dominicans have been trained in various traditional and non-traditional vocational skills.
He also established links with the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council and the CYP to enable young Dominicans to represent their country and region at international conferences and forums.
He said: “Over the years, CYP has built a cadre of trained professional youth workers and raised the status of youth work. We should reintroduce and promote increased regional youth exchanges and volunteerism as a way to strengthen Caribbean integration and develop youth leadership.”
Mr Pascal currently serves on two regional committees: the CYP Technical Group for the development of Competency Standards for Youth Development Work; and the Technical Working Group for the CARICOM Youth Development Plan of Action.
Aruna Shantha Nonis has been working for youth development in Sri Lanka for over two decades.
He is currently working as a consultant at the National Council of Young Men’s Christian Associations of Sri Lanka (NCYSL) - the apex body of 38 local YMCAs. He has been working towards the professionalisation of the youth work sector in his country, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Asia Centre.
He was instrumental in starting youth clubs in the YMCA and initiated many other youth programmes over the years, focusing on leadership development and peace-building.
The concept of Youth Clubs developed while Mr Nonis was attending the YMCA Youth Leaders Training Camp in 1983. He was 20-years-old then and studying for a Bachelor's Degree in management.
“I began to wonder why we didn’t have youth programmes conducted by youth themselves rather than just providing facilities and conducting programmes directed at youth,” Mr Nonis remembers.
This was the beginning of Youth Clubs in Sri Lanka.
“It was simply creating spaces for youth to meet as a group and just allow them to discuss and talk about what they feel is interesting,” Mr Nonis said.
“When the opportunities are created they feel relaxed and independent, then come out with many ideas and some of them were really innovative.”
Along with youth clubs, Mr Nonis also played an active part in initiating a youth exchange programme in Sri Lanka.
When he joined the YMCA in 1988, Sri Lanka was trapped in a civil war arising out of ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in the north-east.
He was given the chance to visit YMCAs in Jaffna, where the military conflict was at its most active, in 1989.
Due to the war, people were feeling insecure and unsafe. As a result, young people remained in their homes and did not go out of their areas.
Talking to young people in Jaffna, Mr Nonis thought of providing them opportunities to travel to and experience other parts of the country and their communities.
Youth Work Week has adopted the Commonwealth’s 2012 theme, 'Connecting Cultures', which celebrates the diversity of the 54-member Commonwealth and recognises the role the association plays in bringing together many different peoples around shared visions and values.
“All these young people were Tamil and never got the opportunity of talking to a Sinhala person, especially to a Sinhala youth,” said Mr Nonis.
YMCA initiated a Youth Exchange Programme by bringing young people from Jaffna and Navaly, in the north of Sri Lanka, to the southern town of Pamunugama.
Mr Nonis recalls how 15 youth members from the Northern YMCAs visited the Southern YMCA in 1991.
His team organised home stays in Pamunugama, where the young people did not speak Tamil, and the youth from Jaffna and Navaly did not speak Sinhala.
But language did not pose a barrier for the young people to communicate with each other. Mr Nonis and his team involved them in sports and work events. When they were together they realised that there were many common things between them rather than differences.
Pamunugama and Navaly still continue this relationship.
As a past graduate and past Country Coordinator (Belize)for the Certificate Programme in Youth Work and Diploma in Youth and Development I am encouraged by the movements and efforts to professionalising youth work in the region. We all have a vital role to play in ensuring that this becomes a reality.
Certainly you have many more things to share.
These is so interesting, God gave you more grace. I am challenge. As a youth to do more in my society then receiving.