Involving youth in social and political change
Not every young person is able to give money or time as a way of getting involved with their communities and local government. Using a mobile app or device to get their input via messaging, polls, and quizzes could involve previous unavailable or uninterested generations. Engaging our youth on matters that are important to them can help ensure they are present and active in our future.
UNICEF set out to give young people a platform to have their opinions heard and came up with U-Report, a messaging platform that engages young people in political debate and carries out polls on issues of importance to them. The answers are stored in a database and used to improve the work of UNICEF and its partners in the field
U-Report was originally piloted in Uganda, where 55% of the population is 18 years old or younger, and 48% of people have access to mobile phones. 250,000 young people joined by SMS text, and were asked their opinion on topics such as education, water, sanitation and hygiene, youth unemployment, HIV/AIDS and disease outbreaks. The service also offered potentially life-saving information, and crucially gave young people a line of communication with decision makers. Many Ugandan MPs signed up to the platform to hear what the youth had to say, and one politician started an awareness campaign when it was revealed in a poll that youngsters in her district had not been immunised against certain preventable diseases. U-Report now has a Twitter-based international network, U-ReportGlobal. U-Reporters become involved simply by following @UReportGlobal. They receive a direct message with some basic questions, which they must answer to become a member. They are then included in polls and receive alerts by DM. Results of polls are collected and displayed on the U-ReportGlobal website. UNICEF has teamed up with international Scout organisations to recruit new members, and an agreement with the World Scout Organisation was signed in Malaysia in 2014, to communicate about the benefits of U-ReportGlobal.