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March 20, 2018

3 ways to use ICTs to engage youth and reach the SDGs

By ITU News

How to leverage the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to engage young people and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

This was the focus of UNESCO’s session held yesterday at the World Summit on the Information Society, a week ahead of Mobile Learning Week.

The following 3 strategies can encourage youth involvement with ICTs to help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.

An online platform to learn about SDGs in schools

Ms. Geneva Damayanti, from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s (SDSN) Youth Initiative, spoke about how ICTs are used for their Global Schools Program.

She explained that SDSN Youth, a global network by youth and for youth, with a membership of 500 organizations from more than 70 different countries, empowers young people to create sustainable development solutions.

The Global Schools Program is a new initiative led by SDSN Youth to educate and engage young people on the SDGs.

The global schools program is now creating a one-stop, online interactive platform that provides educational materials, lesson plans and curriculum guides for teachers to teach and students to learn about the SDGs.

The idea, she said, is to increase the capacity of educators to integrate the SDGs into the learning curriculum, and to empower youth to engage with SDGs at the local level. Said Ms Dayamanti, “ICTs are central for us to put our work forward”.

YouthMobile: developing digital skills and innovation in Africa

Davide Storti from UNESCO noted that the next 1 billion new internet connections will be from mobile devices in the hands of young people from developing countries.

So how can we engage youth as agents of change for the Sustainable Development Goals?

The YouthMobile  Initiative organizes workshops that stimulate young people to identify a problem in their community, develop a mobile application solution, elaborate a business plan, and develop their confidence and skills to market the application.

Since its launch in March 2014, UNESCO’s YouthMobile has been rolled out in more than 25 countries, reaching more than 6000 beneficiaries through trainings, contests, assessments and events.

Mr Storti explained that through YouthMobile, UNESCO supported a number of innovative initiatives worldwide, such as AfricaCodeWeek, which reached 1.3 million African children in 2017.

Davide Storti said that the YouthMobile training programme, which lasted several months, was delivered to 400 young people in Nigeria this year. The Nigerian government decided it will expand the program to reach 4000 youth.

An open e-learning platform in Bangladesh

Mr. Afzal Hossein Sarwar, an education and innovation expert from the government of Bangladesh, described ongoing efforts in Bangladesh to develop skills among young people to meet the new jobs demands of the future.

“By 2023, we hope to use this platform to train 1 million teachers, 3 million unemployed youth, 3 million migrant workers, 2 million farmers and 2 million poor and vulnerable women.” — Afzal Hossein Sarwar

One initiative he described was Muktopaath, launched in 2016. Muktopaath is an open e-learning platform so all citizens—including farmers, young people, migrant workers, and housewives—can have an opportunity to get general, vocational and life-long education.

Disadvantaged and marginalized groups can receive vocational education on ‘Muktopaath’ for self-employment. In addition to online courses in Muktopaath, there are offline versions. Anyone can learn from the offline content.

Said Mr Sarwar: “It helps that Bangladesh now has 5,000 internet access points in rural areas. By 2023, we hope to use this platform to train 1 million teachers, 3 million unemployed youth, 3 million migrant workers, 2 million farmers and 2 million poor and vulnerable women”.

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3 ways to use ICTs to engage youth and reach the SDGs

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