By Neo Kolane
Unicef, in collaboration with the Media Institute of Lesotho and other NGO’s and government ministries is introducing U-Report Lesotho, a messaging tool that empowers young people around the world to engage with each other and speak out on issues that matter to them.
U-Report is a Unicef programme targeting children and youth worldwide. It currently operates in over 60 countries. It is a mobile application that enables young people throughout the country to become “U-Reporters” and text in their opinions and ideas about topics that matter to them.
One of the Ambassadors of U-Report, Ayesha Khuele told theReporter that the youth can voice out their concerns – social, socio-economic, political and economic – through the use of social media and SMS platforms.
She also explained that MISA Lesotho has its own separate project in the arrangement.
“MISA Lesotho will start a series of workshops for high school and tertiary students in October to teach them about U-Report Lesotho.”
Khuele revealed that U-Report was originally piloted in Uganda through a partnership between the local Scouts Association and UNICEF Uganda. Since 2011 it has grown to over 11 million members in 69 countries and counting — from Mozambique to Mexico, from Ecuador to Papua New Guinea, from Malawi to Pakistan.
“All U-Report community works with different strategies, bringing young people’s voices as a priority to define the platform paths and how to promote social impact through it.
“Myanmar is one of the countries that used U-Report to engage with more than 300 Parliamentarians on how to build Myanmar for children with children. On World Children’s Day, children and adolescents represented by 100 U-Reporters from across the country, took over the Union Parliament.
“Together with UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement supported the U-Reporters to present the most pressing issues for children and adolescents, based on the results of U-Report polls during 2018.”
Khuele added that one of the key recommendations proposed by children and adolescents include government supporting parents to send their children to school and providing non-formal education nationwide to support out-of-school children and adolescents.
She made an example of Brazil, where a group of U-Reporters presented results from the public consultation for deliberations on the revitalization of a public square in their neighbourhood, in the presence of the Secretary of Cities and Urban Development.
“Adolescents and young people were able to talk with the government and explain the importance of increasing the effectiveness of public policies in guaranteeing the rights of children and adolescents. After that, an agreement was made about revitalizing the square accordingly with U-Report results.”
She lastly said that in Lesotho they are yet to hear the youth’s proposed issues.