ASPBAE recognises the need to focus on the issues and experiences of young people from marginalised and vulnerable communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated their current contextual challenges, with emerging issues such as mental distress, digital divide, and misinformation taking prominence in the discourse on young people.
ASPBAE has grown its youth constituency, especially through its Youth-led Action Research Initiative (YAR), towards expanded participation and leadership of young people in ASPBAE’s work. The YAR effort involved the training of young women and men from marginalised communities with participatory action research tools to help them analyse the factors preventing their greater access to and participation in education in their communities; to define community actions that can be undertaken to address these; and to dialogue/engage with policy makers, adult education providers, and other stakeholders in their communities on ways to improve education and skills opportunities that address their identified learning needs and aspirations.
In 2020, the YAR effort deliberately focused on providing a space for young people in marginalised communities to collectively come to grips with the impact of COVID 19 on their lives, participate meaningfully in finding solutions and recommend actions that secure their access to education and learning opportunities that help them cope with the emergency and set them on a much firmer track to recovery.
In 2021 ASPBAE supported YAR efforts, documenting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and well-being of youth – an area identified as urgent by the young people affecting their lives and education. A total of 11 countries were covered in these YAR efforts of ASPBAE: India, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. [Click the image below for the report]
Youth leaders and organisations mobilised in ASPBAE’s YAR initiative offered a submission in the consultative processes of the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education through a report, ‘From the Margins to the Centre: Youth Informing the Futures of Education’. More than 100 youth leaders have been mobilised and supported by ASPBAE to speak and participate in regional and global policy platforms and engagements, enabling them to raise their concerns and feed into key advocacy processes.
To support youth-led planning and decision-making processes within ASPBAE, a youth core team generates suggestions for ASPBAE’s youth consultations and overall youth work. This is an organic shift from adult-led programme planning to youth-led programme planning and the creation of collective youth-led accountable structures highlighting a significant aspect of youth autonomy within ASPBAE. With the youth core team in place, ASPBAE continues an intergenerational dialogue with members to strategise on the youth work.
The following areas of work reinforce ASPBAE efforts in youth constituency and leadership building:
- Ensuring youth participation and leadership in the SDG 4 / SDGs and other decision- making processes related to education at local, national, regional and global levels.
- Mobilisation and leadership-building of diverse young people and youth groups, especially from marginalised communities.
- Building solidarity amongst youth-led and youth-focused organisations working on education (student-unions, community youth and school groups, etc.)
- Promoting, among ASPBAE member organisations, especially national education coalitions, the integration of youth leadership in their advocacy and governance.
- Sustaining Youth-led Action Research (YAR) communities of practice for leadership building, capacity building on youth engagement, and advocacy and dissemination of YAR knowledge products such as the YAR e-Manual and the YAR Toolkit to promote wider learning and exchange.