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Egypt: Community Mapping Transforms Youth

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The mapping experience has boosted the students' self esteem and helped them think more positively about their futures.

Community Youth Mapping is a process – developed by the Academy for Educational Development (AED) Center for Youth Development and Policy Research – through which young people canvass local businesses and organizations and document where to find resources for children and families.

More than 100 communities in the United States have been mapped. Now, the process is catching on in Egypt, where  young people are focusing on school-to-work opportunities such as internships, job-shadowing, apprenticeships, and part-time employment. In addition they are finding other assets such as community centers, arts education, and tutoring.

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: On-the-ground observations by Shoroke Zedan, who coordinates the Community Youth Mapping effort in Egypt for AED. 

When I first met the students who had been nominated to become youth mappers in their communities, I, like many of my team members, was a bit apprehensive. I wondered whether or not they would really go into stores and shops, talk to strangers, and ask for information.

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Through Community Youth Mapping, young people go door-to-door to interview local people about opportunities available for local youth and families.

They would normally not even have dreamed about knowing this information, let alone asking about it themselves!These young people were very shy – especially the girls – and afraid of the idea that they would be the visible face of this program in their communities.

The students are all from technical schools. Here in Egypt, the technical school students are considered to be of lower caliber than other students. Generally they are enrolled in technical education because of their low grades and as a result are largely ignored by the public. They tend to have a lower opinion of themselves.

But what a transformation! I can only say that the change in these kids in the past couple of months has been incredible!

Girls Take the Lead

Rarely do girls in Egypt complete their education, but these teenage girls have taken the lead in their groups, and have been able to challenge the idea that a woman's place is at home. These girls insisted on going to the remotest areas in their governorates to survey the available resources.

They have walked into carpentry workshops and barbershops. They’ve interviewed community leaders with great enthusiasm and self-confidence. They’ve taken our reform efforts to the next level. Before they went out in the field, all of the youth mappers were trained.

Almost 320 young people between the ages of 14 and 18 years, four CYM coordinators, 28 field supervisors, and 49 NGO representatives attended CYM trainings in the governates of Beni Sweif, Minia, Qena, and Aswan. The trainings for the students focused on teaching them how to collect data in three ways: through place-based surveys, group discussions, and one-on-one interviews.

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Teenage girls have taken the lead in their groups, a role not traditionally held by women in Egypt.

Then they were taught basic computer skills for data input and analysis. The supervisors and other adults practiced management skills and ways to assist the students in their efforts.

Increased Optimism

Approximately 80 young people in each of the four governorates are now canvassing specific idarras (the equivalent of a U.S. county) and uncovering existing resources. These students had no idea that there were so many opportunities available to them in their own backyards.

They are now more optimistic that they will be able to find jobs with the education they are getting at the technical schools. The young people are also making note of the things they feel the community needs.

These youth mappers have not only realized the importance of becoming active community members but have also understood that technical education is not, and should not, be considered a second class education.

They are gaining so much from this experience that their self-esteem has increased, and they have been empowered to take on this visible role even in their schools and amongst their fellow students.

GAP


 

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