Professionalizing the youth work sector |19 May 2023
A three-day workshop as part of the Commonwealth secretariat’s programme to professionalize the youth work sector, ended yesterday afternoon at the University of Seychelles, after fulfilling the objectives of delivering an optimal diploma and degree courses in Youth Work.
The session was organised by the University of Seychelles in collaboration with the Commonwealth secretariat, and the UK-based National Youth Agency.
Speaking to the local media, the advisor for the Commonwealth secretariat, Dr Amina Osman, explained that the mandate to professionalize the youth work sector was given to them by their ministers for Youth in 2017 at the Commonwealth Youth Ministers meeting that was held in Uganda.
Dr Osman stated that despite the workshop being only three days, the actual work began way before that. There were virtual sessions being held with the University of Seychelles and a number of key stakeholders.
“We discussed youth work and key issues that were identified as relevant to youth work in the Seychelles and how do you quality assure the programme.”
There were also representatives from the quality assurance body. There was a lot of planning and background work being done before going to the Seychelles.
“We have given them all the tools at this stage and of course we will continue to support them,” she stated. However, she also noted that it was very important to contextualize the problem and have a proper response to the needs of the country.
She went on to say that to be able to support young people effectively, there needs to be the proper tools, the proper training and the professional skills and knowledge to be able to do so.
“We tend to say that if you have a health problem you are not going to go to someone who does not have any training or who is not a professional, so this is the exact same scenario.”
She explained that there are transitional periods in a youth’s life, so they need to be sorted through it to be able to deal with the challenges that life will throw at them. The workshop aided them to get training and increase their chances of employment.
Dr Osman stated that she felt satisfied with the overall turnout and participation as they have shown that they have critical thinking skills and have used it to the maximum.
“They have used it to identify gaps and areas where it could be improved. They expressed themselves and made their voices heard. There are a lot of positive factors.”
Lecturer/Assistant Head of Department Health and Social Care, Naomi Vidot, explained that the three-day workshop was a revision that was taken into the context of Seychelles. She explained that the University already had a degree programme for the department of social care, youth and community work, however, the goal is for the programme to meet demand for what is out there.
She explained that the first two days, there were not a lot of young people, but mostly workers who were on the terrain to see what their needs were and how to fix things. The closing day was the day where the young group of people explained their own predicaments and issues for the youth workers to better understand.
The University had sent out a programme to be scrutinized and validated by the Seychelles Qualifications Authority (SQA) but at the same time, took the opportunity with the Commonwealth. “What we are trying to do now is try, with our existing programme and with the modules that they will make available, to do a training that they will need for the youth workers in the field,” she explained.
The idea is for the programmes that the University currently has to be complemented with the new ones from the Commonwealth. She discussed the fact that the participants were really interactive and contributed a lot.
She explained that there were more participants who were invited and not all of them showed up which was slightly disappointing.
“What we expected and what turned up did not correlate. However, despite not having a large group of people there were many fruitful conversations.”
One of the facilitators of the Commonwealth secretariat who works with a Youth Agency in the UK, Kevin Jones, recapped the three days of the workshop, looking at the three I’s of curriculum design – Intent, Implementation and Impact. The workshop looked for specific problems but at the same time all the things to celebrate about Seychelles life. All of the work will be used to develop the tools for the University.
“We looked at the various networks of variable spiral curriculum and other variables.”
They also viewed teaching styles and learning styles and how all the materials are distributed to the students.
He stated that the most important aspect was the input from the youth they and he stated that he deeply resonated with the issues present.
“They took us through the complacency and what they want from youth workers,” he stated.
The Dean of Faculty, Dr Justin Zelime, presented a certificate of achievement for the Introduction of Youth Work offered by the University of Seychelles in September 2020.
The two representatives who received the certificate were Juliana Toussaint and Betty-May Leon.
The Dean closed off the ceremony by discussing the fact that the ball is now in Seychelles’ court and it is up to the University to be able to use the tools effectively.
Text & photos by Sunny Esparon