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Strengthening youth involvement in decision-making through the Scout Youth Forum in Africa

The just ended 9th Africa Scout Youth Forum in Nairobi Kenya gathered over 40 young leaders from 27-member National Scout Organizations of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (World Scouting).

The Africa Scout Youth Forum is an event of the Africa Scout Region held every three years.

It is a platform for youth members of Scouting in Africa to discuss different issues and make recommendations to the Africa Scout Conference in a bid to increase youth participation in decision-making processes at regional level.

The development of a Youth Involvement Strategy in 2011 signified the Movement’s commitment to youth involvement at all levels of Scouting and in decision making. This led to the 40th World Scout Conference in Slovenia in 2014 making youth engagement one of the six strategic priority areas for the World Scouting.  

The strategy recognizes that young people as active citizens have a right to be involved in making decisions that affect their lives. Not only is it their right to be involved, but it’s also core to the Scout Method.

Youth involvement isn’t just about having young people at the table, it’s about working in partnership with them to offer the tools and support they need to lead the change they want to see, whether it’s in their communities or in their institutions. Youth involvement is also about promoting inter-generational dialogue so there continuous learning between younger and older generations both with wisdom, experience and energy to share.  

According to World Scouting’s Youth Involvement Strategy Final Report 2011-2021, “Young people are a tremendous source of energy, creativity and values that can shape a better future, both inside Scouting and in the local communities in which they live.”  

This understanding that young people must be involved in decision-making is a central element of the Africa Scout Youth Forum. Through the Youth Forum, young people have the opportunity to develop their skills and take part in key decision-making processes. 

Here are some of the key ways participants engage in making decisions during the Youth Forum:  

  1. Working in Mixed International Teams: Through their International Teams, Youth Forum participants learn about the decision-making process of the Youth Forum and the Africa Scout Conference. Together they collaborate and propose inputs to different documents for the decision of the Youth Forum.

To learn skills in cooperation and lobbying, the teams must get their proposals to be seconded by at least one other International Team before they can be discussed and voted on. The decisions reached will are included in the final Youth Forum report to the Conference.

  1. Proposing and Voting on Resolutions and Constitutional Amendments: The Youth Forum provides avenues for participants to discuss and propose draft amendments to the proposals put forward to the Africa Scout Conference, including Constitutional Amendments, Recommendations, and Draft Regional Triennial Plan.

Recommendations are decisions proposed to the Africa Scout Conference which provide direction for the future of the Scout Movement in the Africa region. Any recommendations proposed by the Youth Forum will be considered by the Conference if subsequently proposed by Member Organizations.

  1. Drafting Content for the Youth Forum Declaration: The Youth Forum Declaration is a statement of key messages that the participants would like to convey to World Scouting, Africa Scout Region and the world, and which helps guide the work of the Youth Advisors to the Africa Scout Committee in the following three-year period.

Youth delegates are invited to actively engage in the decision-making of the Youth Forum and Conference to help shape the future of Scouting. This process is supported by a voting protocol outlined in the Rules of Procedures for both events.

  1. Electing Youth Advisors to the Africa Scout Committee: The Youth Forum elects six Youth Advisors to the Africa Scout Committee who play a key role in its decision–making.

During the Youth Forum, participants learn about and engage with the candidates to hear their ideas and plans for their candidacy.

In the end, they vote to elect the six who will become their voice and support further strengthening of Scouting in Africa’s youth engagement work.

  1. Developing Personal Action Plans: Throughout the Youth Forum, participants take part in workshops that allow them to build bridges between the event and experiences back in their local communities. Delegates dive into many ideas and best practices to brainstorm on project ideas they want to implement back in their communities or National Scout Organizations.

The outcomes of the decisions made by young people at the Youth Forum are included in a report to the Conference sharing the opinions and perspectives of young people about what is most important to them for the future of Scouting.

This is just one step in a longer journey as a key part of the Scout Method that enables Scouts to continuously strengthen their ability and experiences to be involved in decision-making at the unit level, institutionally and in their communities. 

Visit https://africa.scoutconference.org to learn more about the 9th Africa Scout Youth Forum and 18th Africa Scout Conference.

Nelson Opany - Senior Manager, Communications and Partnerships, World Scout Bureau Africa Support Centre Nairobi