Friday, November 13, 2015

Building future leaders through the Youth Parliament Programme

Timor-Leste Youth Parliamentarians are voting for an idea
during the special occasion of the First Annual Sitting of the newly elected
Youth Parliamentarians to build consensus among the members on youth programmes.
©UNICEF Timor-Leste/Aemguterres
“We have no proper road to commute from my village Malelat, it took four hours by truck to reach to the point from where I took a boat to cross the river. Altogether, it was a 13-hour journey from my village to the capital, Dili,” Maria Fatima Sila,  a 14- year old youth parliamentarian shared her experience while talking about her journey to attend a skill development training in Dili organised by the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports (SYSS) supported by UNICEF.

“I am happy that I could make it. I would like to draw the political leaders’ attention to problems we are facing in our everyday life.  In my community, many children are out of school, and parents are not much aware of the benefits of education and the health of their children,” Maria continues.

“We would like to act as a bridge to bring local issues to the national level. Through various training and exposure visits supported by UNICEF, we have prepared ourselves, and now we are able to confidently communicate with policy makers, local leaders and the community,” says Ambrocio P. Colo (15), a representative of Bobocasee village of Oecusse district. 

A Journey of change
Maria, Ambrocio, Melisa, Olandino, are new members of the Youth parliament who were elected by their peers in 2014.

Youth Parliament members are having discussion on the issues
related to their work in a training session.
©UNICEF Timor-Leste

“I’ve first heard about the Youth Parliament through a radio programme. Also a representative from the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports visited my village and encouraged us to participate in the selection process of the new members for the Youth Parliament. It was not easy, my father and other family members helped me to complete all official requirements. Initially, three youth were selected from my village through a competitive process, but at the end they elected me for my good performance in public debate,” says Maria, her sparkling eyes reflects her confidence.

“Initially, I was not sure about my role as a member of the Youth Parliament, and was feeling nervous. But slowly, after attending different training courses on various topics, I’ve realised it is not difficult. Now, I regularly participate in different programmes in my village, visit houses and encourage parents to send their children to school and inform them about the importance of immunization and birth registration,” Maria proudly continues.

“After receiving training from UNICEF, I’ve learned many things such as children’s rights to education, protection and health. In my community, we have created a youth group that collaborates with me to disseminate information and to meet with people in the communities to discuss various issues that are important for children,” says Ambrocio.

“We want to ensure education for all members of my community. We are planning to establish a library that anyone can visit to get access to books,” Ambrocio continues.

Building Future Leaders
“The Youth Parliament serves as a mechanism for young people to contribute to national development processes. It creates a platform for adolescents and youth to learn and practice democratic values and leadership skills. 

Youth Parliament members are attending life skills training.
©UNICEF Timor-Leste
They have also received training on civic education which will help them to become responsible citizens,” says Firminio Dias Quintas, the National Director of Policy and Planning of SSYS while talking about the Youth parliament.

“In partnership with UNICEF, SYSS launched the National Youth Parliament in 2010.  A total of 132 youth, including two persons with disabilities, between the ages of 12 and 17, serve as representatives from all sub-districts in Timor-Leste in the Youth Parliament,” says Andreza E. Maria Guterres, Adolescents and Youth Participation Officer of UNICEF in Timor-Leste.

For the past five years, this initiative has been providing a platform to young people to contribute to national development processes.

By Arifa S. Sharmin, Communication Specialist

1 comment:

  1. Proud of you my alin matenek sira Parlamentu Foin Sa'e