Ipyet/Youth Development

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A big welcome to you. This is the first of five modules for the IPYET 2011 Online programme. The first module sets the tone for all the discussions we will be having during these sessions and the residential programme. Module 1 is therefore aptly titled – “Youth Development” because it asks some of the fundamental questions everybody should be asking. Let us try our hands (and minds) on a few questions that may be asked by some of the organisers of the IPYET programme for instance: why these participants – are they youth; do they work with youth; do they work for youth; are they professionals working with youth or are they not; will lessons they learn from this training be translated to young people in their constituencies; etc ? These and many more are the questions our partners may be asking.

"So what are your own questions?"

Key Questions

By the time you finish your online discussions on this module, you should have explored various thoughts and questions:

  1. How do we define “youth”?
  2. What/who is youth?
  3. Are youth homogenous or heterogeneous?
  4. Who should work with young people?
  5. Who should NOT work with young people?
  6. Are there any barriers to effectively working in the youth development sector?
  7. What policies and programmes can effectively impact on these barriers/challenges?
  8. Can advocacy be used to ensure relevant policies and programmes to support youth development – particularly curb youth unemployment?

So what is Youth Development?

As a teaser, let us reflect on this a little bit more. Pittman, (1993, p. 8) defines this as "...the on-going growth process in which all youth are engaged in attempting to (1) meet their basic personal and social needs to be safe, feel cared for, be valued, be useful, and be spiritually grounded, and (2) to build skills and competencies that allow them to function and contribute in their daily lives.”

According to the Centre for Youth Development and Policy Research (CYDPR), it is a process or journey and that it involves all of the people around a youth—family and community. A young person will not be able to build essential skills and competencies and be able to feel safe, cared for, valued, useful, and spiritually grounded unless their family and community provide them with the supports and opportunities they need along the way .

The four cardinal elements necessary for this “development” to happen are people, programs, institutions, and systems. They are meant to provide youth with the supports and opportunities they need to empower themselves. According to CYDPR, this may be in the form of:

  • An adult who volunteers time to mentor or tutor a young person;
  • A school that partners with community-based organizations to keep its doors open until 10 pm and provide all youth a safe, supervised place to be with homework support, activities, physical and mental health services;
  • A leadership development program that offers rival gang members neutral territory where they can relate to one another as individuals and build skills;
  • A city government that engages youth in the policy making process through youth councils and youth positions in government departments;
  • A religious institution that provides youth access to computers and the necessary training; and
  • A local business which employs youth in meaningful and relevant work.

Which of these examples fit you or your organisation or project?

The test perhaps is not the quest for youth development. Young people will develop into “something” no matter your intervention. Your challenge as a youth development practitioner however may be to inject that QUALITY into the development process of the youth. How do you achieve quality youth development and not just any development?

The University of Minnesota provides eight keys to quality youth development as a guide to all practitioners:

  1. Youth Feel Physically and Emotionally Safe
  2. Youth Experience Belonging and Ownership
  3. Youth Develop Self-Worth
  4. Youth Discover Self
  5. Youth Develop Quality Relationships with Peers and Adults
  6. Youth Discuss Conflicting Values and Form Their Own
  7. Youth Feel the Pride and Accountability that Comes with Mastery
  8. Youth Expand Their Capacity to Enjoy Life and Know that Success Is Possible

To achieve all these however, we must reflect further on the elements of our initial definition and consider that, youth development may embody one or all of the following ideals:

  • Youth Development is a Process ... of human growth through which adolescents move from being taken care of – to taking care of themselves and others.
  • Youth Development is an Approach ... where policy, funding, and programming are directed at providing supports to young people as they build their capacities and strengths to meet their personal and social needs.
  • Youth Development is a Set of Practices ... that adults use to provide youth with the types of relationships and experiences needed to fuel healthy development.

How this module is organised

The are two sub-modules. Each sub-module can be organised as a stand-alone course.

Module 1.1: Introduction to Youth Development Practice

Module 1.1: Introduction to Youth Development Practice raises questions around the fundamentals of youth work. Discussions will explore the definitions and contexts of young people and youth workers and professional practitioners. A key area of discussion will be on youth work ethics and its impact of youth development programming. This section will touch more on the people and processes in youth development. Your moderator, Andrew Tandeo, with his vast experience and practice in this field has prepared a discussion brief to help you start the online sessions.

Module 1.2: Creating an Enabling Environment: Youth Policy and Advocacy

Module 1.2: Creating an Enabling Environment: Youth Policy and Advocacy, speaks for itself. Discussions will center on the relevant environment needed for youth development to succeed. Discussions will explore the necessary policies and programmes needed and some of the approaches need to ensure these outcomes. This section will touch more on the institutions and systems in youth development. Your moderator, Nellie Munala, with her vast experience on this theme has structured a series of discussion pointers during the online sessions. Her discussion brief is a must-read and must-digested piece.


Module 1.1: Introduction to Youth Development Practice
By Andrew Tandeo

Module 1.2: Creating an Enabling Environment: Youth Policy and Advocacy
By Nellie Munala

General Recommended Readings:

Pittman, K.J. & Zeldin S., (1995). Premises, Principles and Practices: Defining the Why, What and How of Promoting Youth Development through Organizational Practice, Washington DC, Academy for Educational Development

Training Youth Workers at the Community Level: A Resource Kit, (1996). Washington DC, Academy for Educational Development

Gambone, M.A., Klem, A.M. & Connell, J.P. (2002). Finding Out What Matters for Youth: Testing Key Links in a Community Action Framework for Youth Development. Philadelphia: Youth Development Strategies, Inc., and Institute for Research and Reform in Education.

Connell, J.P., & Gambone, M.A., (2000). Youth Development In Community Settings: A Community Action Framework. Philadelphia: Youth Development Strategies, Inc., and Institute for Research and Reform in Education.