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Youth Empowerment

Youth Empowerment

Mobile learning and life skills

I believe that core parts of life skills are about keeping confidence, creating questions to pursue, and effectively communicating with others. In addition, considering the globalization and all changes we are facing in our lives, the habit of continuous learning (lifelong learning) is fundamentally important for all of us.

We started to support youth (18-25 years old) in Thailand to obtain core life skills. A few weeks ago, 150 youths from Chang Rai and Bangkok had a chance to meet a professional coach, Ms. Siriluck who is an inspirational speaker and an author of the national bestselling books. Her coaching approaches are well adapted for Asian people and similar to approaches of world famous coaches and mentors such as Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Steven Covey, Dalai Rama, and Dale Carnegie. It was such a sensational opportunity for these youths to meet a very much encouraging professional mentor.

Like other countries, the formal education system not always provides young people with good opportunities to become confident and realize their potentials. Rather, young people who are not so successful in learning competition may lose their confidence and hopes for their future prosperities. For some people, education backgrounds and names of University enlarge future possibility and prosperity. For many people, education background could become a lifetime complex.

A young man (18 years old), moving from Myanmar when he was much younger, had been disappointed about his life and future. He has been very poor with his parents who never had proper jobs. He has been suffering from poverty and language barriers, which made him feel that he is inferior to anyone. Meeting with Ms. Siriluck was such a shocking blow to him. He was told to find his competency and passion. Recently, he sent UNESCO a message that he is still keep reading given books and become so ready to face the reality and change situations by himself. What an encouragement for us as well! You can imagine this kind of feedback is the best source to give us energy.

The story does not end here. The story has just started because we are now about to support those young people through mobile learning and social networks. One big opportunity is good as the 1st step and we know what we would like to do is to keep providing more information and opportunities and get them connected. The penetration of mobile phones in Thailand is high. If they are more than 18 years old, all of them literally have mobile phones. Some already have smart phones and spend considerable time in social networks.

We are about to design contents of life skills for young people based on core parts mentioned above. We try to feature the 21st Century skills1that have been advocated by the governments and private corporations as much as possible.

To support young people to obtain these skills, we would like to take three main approaches. One is the daily mobile learning. Young people will receive interesting, useful and inspiring SMS messages on life skills /21st Century skills every day and night. They will keep them in their minds, think of them and create new questions with their curiosity. They are expected to respond with SMS from time to time.

The second is monthly meetings at community learning centers (CLC). There are more than 8,000 community learning centers in Thailand. Young people who receive messages are invited to meet at nearest CLC and have dialogues through a facilitator. They will get additional information about topics and express themselves.

The third is seminars to meet successful people in Thailand. Connecting young people with those successful people in business, sports, education, etc will be influential. The meeting with a professional coach/mentor mentioned above is the good example of this approach. There are a number of successful and encouraging Thai people despite their difficult backgrounds. Meeting and hearing those people would be such an inspiration for young people to face up.

Importantly, social networks on PC and smart mobiles will help all three approaches effectively. There is a possibility to reach more young people without any cost. They can be connected through social networks on life skills like we do by pushing “like” on Facebook.

The activities mentioned above are in a pilot project. While implementing them, we raise funds as well. If you need further information, please contact with Ichiro Miyazawa, i.miyazawa@unesco.org.

1) The skills include four main areas that are core subjects and themes; learning and innovation skills; life and career skills; information; media and technology skills.

Author: Ichiro Miyazawa, Programme Specialist for Literacy and Non-formal Education, UNESCO Bangkok


Main photo credit: © UNESCO / APPEAL