Listening to children and youth and integrating their
perspectives as an essential parameter in educational policy reform agendas and
engaging them effectively in enhancing their learning environment as responsible
young citizens is one of the key guiding principles of Elham. Read more. Hence,
growing a creative, effective and sustainable partnership with children and
youth in the context of the “learning for well being” quest has been one of the
more challenging endeavors for UEF and Elham.
Two approaches to youth engagement where
The Voice of Children
In this context, UEF undertook the development of a “voice
of children and youth” advocacy-survey research toolkit. The VoC aims
at mapping and understanding children’s attitudes, views and feelings about
different aspects of their learning environment and their perceived influence on
their well being. Read more on the VoC. click here
Elham would be informed by the VoC findings in the design of
the areas of focus within its nomination kit. Issues and aspects of the school
environment on which children voiced major concerns would be identified,
articulated and synthesized to become priority areas for intervention.
In other words, the VoC will highlight the key issues within children’s learning
environments that stifle their well being and subsequently Elham will identify,
support and mainstream initiatives and practices that contribute significantly
to rectifying those issues.
if the surrey findings reveal that students voice particular concern over the
poor quality of human relationships within their school, then Elham would first
make enhancing the quality of human relationships as one of its main areas of
focus and will identify, showcase and mainstream inspiring initiatives
undertaken by teachers, principles and counselors which have contributed in
various ways towards enhancing the quality of human relationships within the
school community. In doing so, Elham would be making the perspectives, needs and
concerns of young people as the centerpiece of its focus.
Elham Palestine has adopted this approach and made it a
reality. Indeed, the findings of the Palestinian VoC survey did constitute
significant input in its Palestinian localization process. This is the first
mechanism for engaging children and youth in the Elham process.
The Elham Youth Panel
second approach which Elham Palestine crafted for engaging children as young
partners was realized through their authentic engagement in the evaluation
process of Elham’s pool of initiatives. In fact, an Elham youth Panel was set up
consisting of representatives of key youth organizations. The panel was engaged
in a capacity building exercise. The exercise aimed at helping students develop
their own understanding of learning for well being and the criteria they will
adopt in evaluating Elham’s initiatives. Students undertook an independent
review of the shortlisted initiatives.
Engaging children in the evaluation of initiatives undertaken
by their teachers and principles is an innovative practice that has deep
meanings. For once, roles are reversed. Students do the evaluation and the
interviewing and principles and teachers have been quite respectful and
accepting of this approach. After all, who would have a better appreciation than
children themselves of initiatives that did make a difference in their life
All people involved in the
evaluation process from government, academia or civil society were totally
inspired by the capability, competence, professionalism and integrity manifested
by the Elham youth panel throughout the whole process.
Building on the success of its first pilot, Elham intends to
consolidate its partnership with children and youth in its future cycles.