This initiative, based in youth radio broadcasting programs, and relying on a combination of leadership training, site-based mentoring, radio broadcast, and outreach, will engage youth participants to work in their communities as leaders and peer educators around targeted issues. Participants will create carefully thought-out personal and group goals set within a specific timeframe. On-site mentors will assist them in monitoring, documenting, and achieving these goals. Emphasis will be placed on growing the community radio station as a hub of youth mentoring, leadership, excellence, and community engagement.
The initiative will rely on CRF's 14 existing radio project sites across South Africa, initially rolling out the initiative to the current class of 220 youth reporters and with the support of the current network of 24 mentors. These youth reporters are between 12 and 18-years-old, largely living in disadvantaged, under-serviced rural areas, and were selected based on each individual's commitment, potential, and need. The selected youth have already undergone a 12-month reporter training and mentorship, during which the youth reporters experienced an increase in confidence, communication skills, and critical thinking ability, and their communities developed an increased awareness of issues facing youth.
This current class of youth reporters will participate in a pilot of the two-year Leadership Training Program, supported by a team of community-based mentors and leadership coaches. They will follow a detailed curriculum that enables them to assess the needs of youth in their community, design relevant and responsive plans of action, and execute and monitor their plans. In addition, each youth reporter will define his or her specific educational and career goals, and mentors and CRF staff will support their pursuit of tertiary education, including establishing relationships with educational institutions and career opportunity centers.
Each project location will have a community-based organization partner to provide leadership training and support, and to work directly with staff and volunteers at the community radio station. Radio production, broadcast, and outreach activities will be integral to generating spaces of dialogue about leadership within the larger community, as well as the dissemination of youth-directed activities.
The following will be undertaken by CRF and will impact the class of 220 students previously selected to serve as youth reporters at community radio stations.
Jan-Mar 2014: Perform a situation analysis and site report to inform the development of a wide range of curricular materials that will be used in training trainers and youth reporters, and in ongoing project activity implementation.
Apr 2014: Identify partners within individual project sites, including the appointment of community-based mentor organizations. Appoint an advisory committee and a team of celebrity ambassadors who will be involved in shaping and advising the overall initiative.
Apr 2014: Work with community partners and mentors to ensure existing youth participants are briefed on the initiative's commitment and, using clearly defined selection criteria, able to support the selection process of additional youth (as necessary).
May-Aug 2014: Conduct centralized training of trainers and a series of site-based youth trainings, where youth reporters make action commitments to community projects.
May 2014-Oct 2015: Ongoing project work at all 14 community sites, including radio broadcasts, trainings, and outreach activities.
May 2014-Dec 2015: CRF provides ongoing support to all project mentors, youth, and community radio station staff and volunteers, with issue-driven production guides, curricular materials, and weekly reporting mechanisms.
Dec 2014: CRF hosts a national youth leadership camp at a centralized location in South Africa, bringing together selected youth leaders and mentors.
Jan 2015: CRF hosts centralized refresher training for project mentors.
Feb-Mar 2015: CRF conducts follow-up site-based trainings at all community sites.
Nov-Dec 2015: Radio station sites host community showcase graduation events, celebrating the participation of youth leaders and their initiatives.
Jan 2014-Dec 2015: Ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and other learning activities.
The 2011 report Interrogating Youth Leadership Development in South Africa painted a dramatic picture of the challenges young people face across the country. Of 18 to 24 year-olds, 42% were not in educational institutions nor employed, and 49% of 15 to 34 year-olds lived in households with a per capita income of less than $55 per month. Twenty percent of the surveyed youth indicated they believed they would never be employed in their lifetime (Jobson 2011).
In the face of this stark economic reality and an equally challenged education system, young South Africans often struggle to see themselves taking on leadership roles within their communities. Civic engagement and social participation are often cited as key aspects of young people's development in society, yet few spaces exist at the local level where youth can gather, discuss, and take action around issues that affect them. When provided opportunities to experience this level of engagement, young people are able to not only see the potential in themselves, but also see potential in a collective of youth working together to shape the trajectories of their communities.
Many approaches to instilling youth leadership initiatives in disadvantaged communities have not relied on robust curricular foundations, nor do they offer sufficient mentoring, support, or monitoring. They often lack alliances with important community institutions that could serve as hubs for youth advancement and action, and have difficulties sustaining levels of involvement of youth.
Community radio stations are some of the most vital community institutions across South Africa, and are well positioned to play an important role in the development of a generation of young leaders. With over 100 stations and 8.7 million listeners across the country, community radio stations often serve as under-utilized opportunity hubs for youth that offer knowledge and skills, promote positive lifestyles, and motivate youth to participate in bettering their communities.