Tuesday, 16 August 2016

National Pramuka Jamboree: Empowering young people through technology

Releasing 1,000 handmade wooden planes into the air as a symbol of young generations flying higher, the scouts kicked off the 10th National Pramuka Jamboree at Cibubur Scout Camp on Sunday in a vibrant, yet solemn opening ceremony. 25,000 scouts, leaders and members from across Indonesia stood gloriously side by side filling up the entire stadium, in distinctive formal uniforms with red-and-white scarves proudly fastened around their necks.

Happy girl scouts during the opening ceremony
© UNICEF Indonesia/Rodrigo Ordonez/2016
Singing, dancing or saluting in harmony, one could not help but feel the excitement and pure joy of all participants – from club scouts to adult members to international visitors – eager for their week of learning, sharing ideas and making friends, to begin. Colourful and energetic performances from the provinces combined with some occasional earnest moments to pay respect to a fallen hero or to the national anthem, the spirit of friendship, unity and peace reigned over the entire camp.  
“Beautiful” simply said a smiling 14-year old Girl Scout from North Sulawesi about the opening ceremony snapping selfies with her friends. The friends Indah, Nanda, Viani and Miracle added “The opening ceremony was so interesting. There are many scouts with different religions but we are still able to be friends with each other”.
Girl Scouts from North Sulawesi
©UNICEF Indonesia/Ariunzaya Davaa/2016
UNICEF was there too, to help these young scouts to harness the same technology they use for selfies to raise their voices higher and louder in society, through the youth engagement platform U-Report. Recognizing the important role technology plays in adolescent and young people’s lives, UNICEF brought U-Report to the jamboree to encourage as many scouts to sign up as possible and get their voices heard.
The scout spirit and oath has not changed, but the technology was not the same as the last Jamboree five years ago. Walking around the grounds of Cibubur, enthusiasm and impatience of the young scouts filled the air, with their digital cameras, smart phones and iPads wanting to capture every single moment or share a selfie with someone they just met.
And there was plenty to capture. Rainbow of flags representing provinces raised on both sides of the pathway starting from the entrance all the way to the campsite. Hundreds of small camps – homes of the scouts for the next week - are set up across the camp ground; each have their distinctive entrance ways decorated with colourful banners, photos and slogans. The children singing, dancing and doing their scout routine can be found at the camps. Probably there will be hundreds of thousands of images snapped, shared, posted and tweeted by the participants over the week recording their journey and experience that will undeniable shape their lives and their future.
So if they’re going to be tweeting, snapping, sharing and posting anyway, why not make it really count?
U-Report Indonesia uses that same technology and social media to give young people an opportunity to speak out on the issues that they care about, through polls on specific topics and encouraging feedback. Pramuka Indonesia has 20 million members, so the National Jamboree was the perfect event to start spreading the word and encourage the scouts to join more than 2 million U-Reporters worldwide. Thousands of scouts are expected to participate in the interactive sessions each day, which will explain what U-Report is all about and how to use it in twitter and facebook to communicate and share information.

Even President of Indonesia Jokowi highlighted the vital role young people play in the country’s development in his opening remarks and called them to be strong, brave and positive. Standing gracious for the entire opening as the Head of the Ceremony, he also stated the importance of information technology and its proper use by young people. “Use social media to inspire young people to join the scouts. However, social media is not a tool for you to hurt or bully each other” he remarked.

President Jokowi delivers opening remarks
© UNICEF Indonesia/Rodrigo Ordonez/2016

Indeed, bullying is one of many subjects that U-Reporters can and already have shared their views about. The results show that 50 per cent of children in Indonesia are bullied at school. These statistics are important to understand the scope of a problem and its impact on children’s well-being so that the government and other stakeholders can make informed decisions to stop these harmful behaviours. U-Report Indonesia conducts weekly polls on topics such as these and ensures that the voices of poll participants makes their way to decision-makers.
There are currently over 27,000 active U-Reporters across Indonesia who have already raised their voices to influence national and even global discussions on issues that are relevant to them. Examples include polls on the Sustainable Development Goals prior to the UN General Assembly session in September 2015 where the SDGs were endorsed, and on priorities to address climate change, which were presented during the COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris, among others. Moreover, UNICEF used U-Report to gather children’s and adolescents’ input to a National Strategy on the Elimination of Violence in Childhood, which was launched by the Government in January this year. Around 4,000 children and young people (aged 14-25 years) participated in the poll.
Charged with youth spirit and excitement, the National Jamboree is truly one of a kind bringing together scouts from Indonesia and beyond to create memories and friendships for them to take home and cherish for a lifetime.  This year technology has brought the experience to a next level where the scouts are not only bringing hundreds of selfies back home, but most importantly the feeling of being empowered and being heard like never before.