Q: What is Global Youth Work?
A: Global Youth Work has many faces. Some consider Development Education to be Global Youth Work. Others say that it’s any time global issues are explored with youth.
I believe that at it’s heart, it’s informal education that engages young people in a participative way, to explore their own role as a citizen in their local, national and international community. It works to encourage empathy in youth, focuses on justices and injustices in the world through the process of globalization and focuses on positive change through action as a member of any community.
Below is an excerpt from my Master’s Dissertation ‘Letters to a Child: A Critical Study of the Effectiveness of using Child Sponsorship as a Method for Engaging Young People in Global Issues’, published in 2009 through the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at DeMontfort University, which goes into a bit more detail about what Global Youth Work is.
As it was an academic paper, there’s more academic language and referencing than we normally provide in our blog. If you’d like the bibliographical information on the references provided, please contact us.
The Development Education Agency (DEA) identified the following ten principles which underpin Global Youth Work (GYW), a phrase which began to gain momentum after a research project “A World of Difference” was published by the DEA in 1995. After this list there will be a breakdown drawing out the underlying key principles and creating a definition which will define global youth work principles throughout this research:
1. Starts from young people’s experiences and encourages their personal, social and political development
2. Works to the principles in informal education and offers opportunities that are educative, participative, empowering and designed to promote equality of opportunity
3. Is based on an agenda that has been negotiated with young people
4. Engages young people in a critical analysis of local and global influences in their lives and those of their communities
5. Encourages an understanding of the world based on the historical process of globalisation and not the development or underdevelopment of societies
6. Recognises that the relationships between and within the North and the South are characterised by inequalities generated through globalisation processes
7. Promotes the values of justice and equity in personal, local and global relationships
8. Encourages an understanding of, and appreciation for, diversity locally and globally
9. Views the peoples and organisations of the North and South as equal partners for change in a shared and interdependent world
10.Encourages action that builds alliances and brings about change
Global Youth Work is important for two reasons.
- It fights Nationalist and Xenophobic Ideas that can be used to oppress others – Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute found that young people who had not “thought about news stories from around the world from different points of view are, by contrast [to those that have], less positive.” (DEA 2008: 12) The research also showed that young people who did not think about news stories did not feel they could make a difference in the world or that their actions affected people in other countries. (DEA 2008) It is these nationalist ideas which exploring global issues can help to address. Osler and Starkey (2005) suggest the roots of nationalist ideas can be traced back by Dewey (1916 in Osler and Starkey 2005) to the end of the nineteenth century, at which time the government took over the education of young people, thereby making teachers accountable to the state and thus altering education towards a nationalist mentality. Osler and Starkey (2005:20) note that nationalist “discourses encourage xenophobia because they make a sharp distinction between national citizens and foreigners.”
- Relevance to their everyday lives – “The impact of globalisation and international activities on young people’s lives can be direct or indirect but it is difficult to deny there is an impact.” (White 2002:3) In Sallah’s (2008) five ‘faces’ of globalisation, one can begin to identify how culture, technology, economics, environmental issues and political changes all affect young people. The key is to realise that “young people’s needs are complex and are interwoven with needs of others, locally and globally.” (DEA 2001:1)
Question: What do you think Global Youth Work is and what is its relevance (if any) to today’s youth work? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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