February 18, 2018
Ways You Can Help
Young people constitute an important and significant part of the Liberian population, yet this is not reflected in their level of involvement and inclusion in decision-making processes and public debates. At a time of ever-increasing technological processes and greater access to information, the traditional notion of youth as being apathetic, is being shattered. Nonetheless, young people feel that the government and the rest of Liberian society do not consider them ready to contribute constructively to the design and implementation of policies, especially those affecting them. The stereotype view of youth as apathetic and lazy still prevails among many adults, and there are few genuine opportunities for youth participation. Lack of resources, priorities and youth friendly-access to public services are also pressing issues among the youth. For instance, youth organizations face immense difficulties to access public funds, due to bureaucratic red tape that requires youth to demonstrate a track record which many may not have. As a result of this, youth have less interest in showing a sense of partnership in national activities.
The question that needs to be addressed is: how can we ensure that young people are engaged in public policy and addressing national issues?
The Communication Hub/Platform is a web-based, open source, youth friendly platform for youth participation, inclusion in decision making, knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer support, networking and information gathering.
The platform provides not only a virtual space for these activities but also a physical one where youth can meet face-to-face between themselves or even with local leaders, relevant local or international organizations, government officials or even youth from other countries. The virtual space can be found here.
The platform’s main focus is youth employment and youth-led development; it provides the rare opportunity for youth in the Mano River Union Countries to generate ideas, concrete recommendations, and share visions on youth development in the region. The platform’s design provides a mechanism for transparency and full participation, enabling youth to submit their opinions to government officials, the business community, as well as the public at large.
Youth Crime of Liberia’s offices provide a physical space for the MRU Platform where young people meet to interface with each other, share, as well as utilize the computers to interact virtually. Currently maintained solely by YCWL, the Physical space provides:
Our trainings are not simply technical skills training on how to use the platform. They are built from directly from the needs of our youth gathered through focus groups, interviews, surveys, and national/international statistics. We focus on building confidence, providing conflict transformation skills, teaching teamwork styles and methods, and educating on networking and information gathering.
The platform or hub, as it is shortly known, is a haven of information, skill acquisition, as well as content sharing for youth of all ages.
When a youth visits the hub, she is instantly connected to thousands of others in the Mano River Union basin. In fact, the virtual space of the platform is a more youth centric version of most publicly known social networking sites, with more realistic and education driven content.
Young people cannot only share data, but they can interact and discuss issues across the entire region. Over the years, Youth Crime Watch of Liberia has been working to use this platform in interfacing the youth community with the government. We believe that this platform can serve as a public interface for youth position on national issues. Government officials can directly tap into the minds of young people simply by posting questions on the platform.
Our efforts were initially funded by a multi-stakeholders program. This included the Governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire; UNIDO, UNDP, MRU Secretariat, UNICEF and YEN with funding from the Japanese Government.
Currently, funding from these sources has halted and only helps to maintain the virtual space. We are currently looking for funding to help maintain our internet costs, computer maintenance, and the purchase of new computers. All of our training, use of the computer lab and other related services are offered free of charge to all Liberian youth.