New IIEP publication finds youth participation key to creating strong education systems

03 July 2015

IIEP is proud to announce a new publication, ‘Planning education with and for youth’, written by Anja Hopma and Lynne Sergeant.

Empowering youth voices and involving them in the process of designing better education systems could improve both policy-making and learning outcomes, says a new publication from UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning.

“Education is one area where young people remain passive but could become drivers of reform in a system of which they are part,” say the authors.

The publication illustrates both the many benefits – from decreasing drop-out rates to increasing the relevancy of education –and the obstacles to engaging youth at all stages in shaping a positive school experience.

As the central stakeholder in education, youth can provide decision-makers with unique insight into what works and what doesn’t work in the school system. Student participation in policy planning can also help build civic skills and social consciousness in young people, as well as offering them transferable skills for the world of work and for life beyond schooling. Embracing youth participation also has added benefits for decision-makers as it gives them a new source of ideas on how to effectively plan education.

However, young people are all too often left out of the conversation to the detriment of education quality. The authors point to a number of obstacles to mainstreaming youth participation, including negative depictions of young people, limited representation of youth voices and adult perceptions that youth lack the range skills needed to make a worthwhile contribution to educational planning.

“The education sector must recognize that meaningful youth engagement requires an overhaul of the way schools and education systems function – including new ways of dialoguing with, teaching, and acting towards learners, in order to foster the skills that young people need to become responsible and productive citizens,” says the report.

Ministries of education and other policy-makers are also given a myriad of solutions on how to ensure youth have a meaningful seat at the table. This includes raising awareness about the importance of youth participation, training and mentoring for youth around the complexities of education reform and ensuring a plurality of youth voices representing diverse backgrounds.

Download the publication.