Youth Digital Champions
Overview: There is a great need to accompany youth in the world today and support their aspirations as they seek to acquire the critical skills needed to become more civically engaged as well as economically active – a force for positive socio-economic development in their communities.
Youth today in many countries represent the largest demographic group yet often are the least represented and have little or no voice, additionally lacking the skills or services to support them at many critical stages of their development. In Africa, for example, sixty percent of the population of 1.25 billion are age 25 or younger and yet many lack access to a platform to promote their voices or vital services required to advance their socio-economic development. This is the case in many other developing country contexts around the world as well. Critical needs of young people will need to be met with foundational services and core competencies such as education, entrepreneurship and workforce development that support their development pathways and lead to economic opportunity.
One identified skill that promotes these core competencies and that supports youth’s aspiration to lead productive lives, gain employment and make positive contributions to society is digital literacy, which broadly defined, is a mastery of digital and ICT-related skills, crucial to promoting economic opportunity.
While there are a multitude of digital literacy initiatives worldwide — and enormous demand for youth with the associated skill sets, many of these efforts are not fully integrated with international educational and youth programming efforts. Nor are these activities typically connected to the other day-to-day challenges of communities in lower-resource developing countries including food insecurity, lack of access to basic health services, and weak education systems.
The attendant digital literacy skills of youth is even more timely and compelling in light of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Youth trained in and supporting COVID-19 response efforts can promote access to and help facilitate the creation of digital content, help combat misinformation, and be engaged in innovative response efforts such as digital app development through hackathons.
The Youth Digital Champions initiative will bring together public and private sector stakeholders to build upon youth interest and passion in digital literacy instruction and application to strengthen community development and self-reliance efforts in lower resource, developing country context by:
1) raising awareness of and promoting youth (15 -29 yrs. old) access to digital literacy skills training, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities and,
2) identifying, advancing, and supporting digitally-enabled young leaders in international, national, and local community development issues.
The Mobiles for Education (mEducation) Alliance will serve as the catalyzing platform for YDC. The Alliance is dedicated to increasing the impact of EdTech stakeholders globally by strengthening formal and non-formal educational systems in low-resource and developing country contexts. Many of the Alliance’s current institutional members, consisting of a group of 27 organizations that include USG agencies and other global public and private sector collaborators, share a common interest in global youth digital literacy efforts.
The initial phase of activities will promote the alignment of international and national stakeholders in partnership with youth who have an interest and passion for digital literacy instruction and applications to strengthen community development and self-reliance efforts.
Youth Digital Champions Learning and Initial Engagement Pathway
Curriculum Integration – YDC will partner with content provider networks to integrate open source, sector-oriented employment/entrepreneurship case studies into digital literacy trainer and learner curriculum and instruction. This will include soft skills for building youth agency and team-building and other leadership skills will also be integrated into the case studies and associated curriculum. Digital literacy instruction can also be used as a bridge to introduce youth to concepts such as computational and scientific thinking, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and other areas of inquiry-based learning.
YDC Case Studies – A series of open-source sector-oriented case studies and background resource materials that demonstrate digital skills for employment, entrepreneurship, and civic action by young people will be created and will be bundled with relevant sector trainer and learner curriculum by certified partner networks.
YDC Learning Survey – Youth benefiting from YDC will complete a brief initial interest survey. The input from youth will result in the generation of a specific menu of case study options that orient youth towards a series of related training curriculum provided by YDC certified partner networks.
COVID-19 and Digital Literacy for Development – Initially, YDC will have a specific focus on connecting youth interest in the acquisition of digital literacy skills with COVID-19 response efforts in the education, health and agriculture sectors. This may also include digital security and digital media advocacy materials and training for young leaders.
Feedback and Formative Evaluation of YDC – YDC will build mechanisms into its initial rollout to allow for continuous feedback on the impact of digital literacy skills, sector specific training content and the YDC methodology to orient youth towards these materials.
YDC is one of the signature activities of the Alliance designed to fill specific gaps of access to quality education in low-resource, developing country context. If you are interested in seeing a range of digital literacy interventions, some of which have served as inspiration for the YDC initiative, please visit our 2019 Symposium web page highlighting projects focused on Digital Literacy and Skills for Education and Development.
Want to partner with us on YDC?
Are you already working on any of the relevant activities identified above? Would you like to support YDC generally and/or any of the specific activities identified above? If so, we’d be delighted to hear from you! Please contact the us at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference “YDC” in your subject heading.
About the mEducation Alliance
The mEducation Alliance is a non-governmental organization focused on the evidence-driven and sustainable role of technology in education to advance quality educational outcomes. Formed in 2010, the mEducation Alliance is a unique, multi-stakeholder convening platform for government and donor policymakers, other investors, researchers, and practitioners to work together, particularly in lower-resource, developing country contexts.