Friday, 26 August 2016

U-Report is cool!

By Ariunzaya Davaa, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Mongolia on mission to Indonesia 

“How many of you are on Facebook?” asks Adnan, UNICEF Innovation Adolescent and Youth Engagement Officer, from the group of mixed girl scouts from different provinces. All hands are raised in the air immediately.

It was a usual sight at a UNICEF-run session at the Global Development Village of the 10th National Pramuka Jamboree which concluded on 18 August. 25,000 Scouts and leaders from all over Indonesia gathered in the huge camp site in Cibubur, outside of Jakarta, for a week of playing, singing, dancing and making friends.  But it was not only a week of fun stuff, but there was also some learning involved.

The Global Development Village was a learning space where different organizations ran educational sessions. As a close partner of Pramuka on youth engagement, UNICEF organized two separate sessions for the Scouts: one on U-Report and another one on child rights.

U-Report is a free SMS and social media-based application which amplifies the voices of youth and allows them to communicate, share information and opinions as well as vote on local issues. Using simple text messages, Twitter or Facebook, young people can send their opinions, respond to polls and share information with other U-Reporters. UNICEF launched U-report Indonesia last year and it already has 27,000 active subscribers.

In sweltering heat, girl Scouts aged between 12 and 15 years went from booth to booth learning new things while making friends with the Scouts from other provinces. As a proof of their learning, children got stamps at each tent in their little Jamboree notebooks.

Most of the girls were first timers not only at the National Jamboree, but also in Jakarta. That’s why everything is a new experience for them. Their excitement and spirit was undeniable. Everywhere they went, the girls were excited to sing their Scout cheers and yells combined with energetic moves never losing their energy until the end of a long day of learning.

The cheery girls’ Scouts from Madura Island on the East Coast of Java came to the U-Report session visibly delighted. “We know about UNICEF. UNICEF is cool!” they yelled.

12 year old Muda was the smallest in the group. It was her first time in Jakarta attending the Jamboree. Muda joined the Scouts when she was in 3rd grade. “Scouts helped me to be independent. I now can do anything by myself,” little Muda explained, with her big brown eyes sparkling.

Holding a smartphone too big for her tiny hands, Muda tried not to be left behind from all the fun and laughter of meeting new friends and taking selfies. With a confidence too great for her age, she pledged to become a U-Reporter. “U-Report is important for young people. It is cool!”

Thanks to the partnership between UNICEF and Pramuka, Scouts from across the country will be able to join U-Report Indonesia and make their voices heard with a simple click of a button. The more U-Reporters raise their voices, the louder they will be when it comes to decisions that affect their lives. Indonesia is a nation of young people. The future is in their hands; they must speak up now. Every voice matters.