Ms. Sheriece Noel, Interim Chairperson of the U-Report OECS Steering Committee, reflected on the successful execution of mobilisation activities. According to Ms. Noel,
“As the youngest multi-nation regional youth movement in the OECS, it is amazing to see our team’s continued success in mobilising youth across our member states to join U-Report, while promoting the importance of youth participation. Our most recent efforts in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica were a resounding success and a testament to our commitment to ensure that youth voices are heard. Of particular note, I must reiterate our commitment to being representative of all youth, as evidenced in our visit to the Kalinago Territory in Dominica.”
The U-Report OECS Mission began in Antigua and Barbuda from November 12th - 17th, 2022. The team made a media appearance on Antigua Broadcasting Service, engaged senior officials of the Department of Youth and Ministry of Education, trained a new cohort of U-Report Ambassadors to build country capacity, and explored partnership prospects with prominent youth organisations. The stakeholder and media engagements conducted were punctuated by a series of school visits, where the excitement of students across Antigua and Barbuda was evident.
The U-Report OECS Mission to Dominica from November 18th - 23rd, consisted of similar stakeholder engagement and outreach activities. Among these were media interviews and an engagement with the Ministry of Education. The team also successfully completed several school visits across Dominica, a training workshop for new U-Report Ambassadors and most notably, a stakeholder engagement meeting which featured eight (8) active youth and community organisations.
Also notable among the engagements in Dominica, was a visit to the Kalinago Territory, to promote the platform and its benefits to Kalinago youth.
Critical to the success of the outreach activities, was the co-creation of a series of polls to ascertain the views of young people in Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica on a number of critical issues. In collaboration with the UNICEF Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, a poll was developed to gain recommendations from Secondary School students on several pressing issues including Education, Healthy Eating and Extra Curricular Activities. In Dominica, two polls were developed. In collaboration with the National Youth Council of Dominica (NYCD), a poll was developed and launched to assess the views of Dominican youth on Politics and Governance. A second poll was launched in collaboration with the Kalinago Youth Council, to assess the impact of poor internet connectivity on the youth of the Kalinago Territory. The data collected from these polls will be analysed and the recommendations presented to the relevant authorities.
The outreach activities, coupled with these key partnerships have led to an exponential increase of young people registered to the platform. This follows similar outreach that was conducted in Grenada in September 2022, and saw the engagement of schools, organisations and government agencies. Over 5,000 young people are now signed on as U-Reporters in the OECS. U-Report Ambassadors in both countries played a vital role in the success of all activities.
Mobilisation will continue in the other OECS Member States in January 2023.
UNICEF has been instrumental in facilitating the expansion of U-Report in the OECS. According to Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area,
“I am pleased and proud to see the level of engagement that young people are showing towards the UNICEF-supported OECS U-Report. It is hugely important to engage them on issues that really matter to them, to hear their views and examine their recommendations. Young people also have a vital role to play in keeping us accountable. This is what meaningful youth engagement looks like.”
Dr. Carlene Radix, Head of the Human and Social Division at the OECS Commission also affirmed the Commission’s support of U-Report OECS programming. She stated that,
"We are privileged to support the youth voice through the U-Report platform, as young people are discovering the collective power of their voice."
U-Report OECS is a digital platform designed by UNICEF to engage young people in program priorities, emergency response and advocacy actions. It supports adolescent, youth, and community participation; and works as a tool to share information, raise awareness, and collect quantifiable data on specific areas that impact youth and the most vulnerable. The information is then utilised by various stakeholders to inform their respective policies and programs as they seek to create relevant youth-focused initiatives. The platform is owned and supported by UNICEF and managed by the OECS Commission across nine (9) OECS Member States.