March 29, 2018

Fostering youth engagement outside the classroom

Written by Evelyn Rupert

This article was originally posted on the Creative website.

Finding new ways to foster civic engagement among young people, particularly from at-risk and marginalized populations, builds youth resiliency and strengthens communities, experts said at the Comparative and International Education Society’s 2018 Conference.

Presenters on the March 26 panel, “Speaking Up: Educating for Civic Purpose on Both Sides of the Wall,” outlined case studies on the value of civic purpose for young people, drawing from on-the-ground experience implementing development programs in Honduras, Guatemala and the Philippines.

Presenting panelists, despite the differences in their programs and country contexts, agreed that while civic education is important, the idea of civic engagement has evolved – and should continue evolving – outside of schools.

Panel chair Jeff Coupe, Senior Associate for the Education in Conflict Practice Area at Creative Associates International, stressed that youth need an enabling and just learning environment, supportive staff and peers and transformative leadership to allow civic engagement to flourish.

“Civic learning takes place in multiple contexts and there are new approaches to civic learning that are more active and student-centered,” Coupe said. “We need to believe in these kids to give them the opportunities to develop their competencies and sense of civic purpose in working to effect change beyond themselves.”

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