Shaping Our Future: Education, Youth Clubs and Equality
We asked young people what messages they want to send to the UK Government about opportunities for young people. With the help of our Shaping Our Future survey, Achievement Award winner Ideja talks about the importance of education, youth clubs and career opportunities for young people today.
Hi! My name is Ideja Bajra and I am a 17-year-old Sixth Form student. I have had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge with my school, which not only improved my confidence skills, but also made me realise that I can improvise! I have also won two Jack Petchey awards and am eternally grateful for the recognition of the leadership skills I demonstrated at Shpresa Programme and for my contribution to the community when I organised a Biology Day. Throughout this blog, I wish to address different focal points that governmental leaders should consider in terms of supporting youth.
Education. A dreary word that often means waking up at 6am in the morning to get ready. However, it was dearly missed throughout the 6 months spent in quarantine, as the survey showed that three quarters of young people actually missed going to school. Now this could have been due to many reasons, however the report highlighted that one in three did not have adequate resources at home. This could be a key point that governments and non-profits should focus on in the event another outbreak or lockdown occurs, as without key equipment, students across the UK have most definitely missed out on key months of learning due to situations beyond their control.
Despite this, teachers (underappreciated heroes without capes) worked day and night throughout the lockdown to ensure that they could provide educational but also moral support to all their students. Due to this, the survey highlights that one in five young people actually reached out to staff members during the lockdown. Without the effort from teachers, the impact from quarantine would have been a lot harsher for students to deal with. (Take a moment to appreciate all the teachers who were there for you during quarantine, and maybe write them a thankful email!)
In terms of opportunities for young people, the government should focus some of their attention on funding youth clubs which will help to create a positive environment for adolescents. Youth clubs not only provide a safe space for students in difficult situations, but they also ensure that each student attending is appreciated and loved, and that their successes and achievements are celebrated. It is also suggested in various articles found online that youth clubs are key in reducing the rates of crime, especially those that are opened in specific London Boroughs where crime rates are high. Opening more youth clubs in key areas of the UK where they are most needed would be a large step in ensuring that students are developing important life skills but are also replenishing a large majority of the contact lost throughout the duration of lockdown.
Opportunities for boys and opportunities for girls. Often seen as two separate categories, but why should they be? Instead, the government could work on creating schemes that provide equal opportunities for both boys and girls in the fields that they wish to enter in the future. This would not only contribute towards reducing the gender pay gap but would also reduce the inequality in certain fields.
The non-profit that I run, Based In Science, aims to do just that, with a specific focus on STEM careers. I have already provided a one-on-one mentoring scheme throughout August for the students of Kosovo and am creating similar sessions on Zoom for all to join from any country, beginning the end of January. The amount of positive feedback I received from the pairing of students with professionals in their fields of interest was absolutely astounding. Students personally told me that they feel much more inspired to enter a field they were previously unsure about, and the mentors themselves were deeply impressed with the intelligent nature of the students. It also made me realise that all students are hungry to gain some sort of support and experience when deciding on career pathways, but it is all dependent on schemes and programs available.
Opportunities, education, and youth clubs are just three of many key factors that positively contribute to livelihoods of children. The expression of students through these factors truly conveys the weight of different programmes, and also reinforces the idea that people in higher positions of power should consider when aiming to tackle issues raised by the youth.
Despite all of this, we, as the youth, have the power to change the world. Anything we put our minds to, we can solve, no matter the barriers. So do not think that any disadvantage, no matter how big or small, can stop you!