Malaysia (Commonwealth Union)_ Graduates of the Commonwealth Diploma in Youth Development Work have lauded the Commonwealth Secretariat and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Both organizations have joined forces to provide youth worker training courses to Malaysian public officials, non-governmental organization employees, and school freshers. This year, a total of 23 students completed the program and are now qualified to continue their education and pursue a bachelor’s degree. During the event, Professor Dr. Ismi Arif Ismail, UPM’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and Dr. Siti Raba’ah Hamzah, programme coordinator, praised the collaborative effort.
The curriculum is one of the efforts of the Commonwealth Higher Education Consortium for Youth Work Program, which promotes the education and training of both current and prospective youth workers. The consortium aids institutions in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe in offering globally recognized, low-cost youth development degrees. It is headed by the Commonwealth Secretariat and leverages the strengths of partners like the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and the National Youth Agency in the United Kingdom in order to upgrade and professionalize the youth work sector, thereby contributing to youth development.
According to Dr Amina Osman, Commonwealth’s education advisor, “Youth work carries a set of values that encompasses treating young people with respect, promoting their voice, and unleashing their potential while negotiating increasingly complex challenges”. She added, “Training youth workers allows them to acquire a unique set of skills, attitudes, and knowledge through a combination of formal education and field experience. That is why we remain committed to continuing our collaborations with universities and other development partners, because, ultimately, professionalizing youth work ensures that we strengthen support for the personal development, civic and social participation of young people, as well as their educational development.”
Dr Ismail expressed pride over the strong support from the Commonwealth. He said, “We are so proud to have very strong support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, and we also plan to have another strong partnership with the Commonwealth in the form of our Bachelor’s Youth Development Work program, which will serve as a pathway for our diploma students to upgrade their knowledge and abilities in youth development work. We believe that our graduates will be the advocates and strong pillars of youth development in our nation and across the world.”
The graduation follows the establishment of the flagship Year of Youth, which is a unique designation mandated by Commonwealth Heads of Government who convened in June 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. During the conference, Heads of State reaffirmed their commitment to empowering young people, stakeholders, and governments to accelerate progress on youth-related challenges in 2023.
According to Layne Robinson, Commonwealth Head of Social Policy, “This cohort of the Commonwealth Diploma in Youth Development Work is a watershed moment in our Youth Programme, as we partner with our member states to deliver on the pledge to highlight youth participation and youth development in 2023 and to collaborate with young people as equal partners in addressing complex challenges such as climate change”.
Robinson added, “Remarkably, this year also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), fifty years of close collaboration with governments and its partners, which include institutions such as UPM, to promote education and development among millions of young people, and to give thousands more the chance to sit alongside world leaders and advocate for their peers.
Robinson further stated, “When the CYP was established in 1973, one of the primary objectives was to ensure that youth officers and youth officials in Commonwealth member nations have the capacity and technical abilities to serve our rising population of young people. Today, we continue to train and assist youth workers to design and deliver strong and efficient youth development policies and programs.”