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FEATURE STORY

Work, Citizen Participation and Education: Youth Helping Other Youth

August 23, 2012


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Photo: Fundación Antonio Restrepo Barco

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • More than 5,500 young people from 11 organizations in six Colombian departments already have access to education, work or political participation.
  • The projects are coordinated by the Antonio Restrepo Barco Foundation, with funds managed by the World Bank.
  • The project's objective is to bring down barriers to information about opportunities.

The microphone is on, the levels under control and a young radio host begins to speak: “Hello and welcome to “Our daily heroes”, a space for young people brought to you through the La Calera Youth Set Sail project”.

That’s what youth community radio in Cundinamarca sounds like, helping young people in the municipality to find information about work, entrepreneurship and education opportunities, as well as other activities.

“It’s satisfying to see that there are people for whom an opportunity can open up the future,” says Laura Prieto, from the Friends Association of La Calera Radio (ARAC in Spanish).

Like those from La Calera, more than 5,500 young people of 11 organizations from six  Colombian departments already have access to education, work or political participation thanks to projects coordinated by the Antonio Restrepo Barco Foundation, and financed by the Japan Social Development Fund, which is managed by the World Bank.

Catalina Jimenez, Coordinator for the Foundation’s projects, says that there are opportunities in Colombia for youth who want to work, study or get involved in politics. “The problem that this project tries to solve is breaking down barriers to information access,” she says.

It’s a problem that needs to be faced, judging by the youth unemployment data: between April and June 2012, 19.1% of Colombia youth were unemployed, according to statistics from DANE, the National Administrative Department of Statistics.


" It’s satisfying to see that there are people for whom an opportunity can open up the future. "

Laura Prieto

Young Participant

The Foundation supports eight other projects that count on the participation or support of municipal governments. One offers workshops for youth on leadership or participation in public policies.

“The training helped us understand there was a law, that we had certain rights. Before, we had absolutely no idea what that law was,” says Maria Jose Navas Fernandez, who participated in a workshop run by the Foundation for Research and Development of [the department of] Sucre.

Colombia’s Law 375 of Colombia, known as “the youth law”, was approved with the aim to “promote all-round training for young people, which contributes to their physical, psychological, social and spiritual development”.

The 11 youth organizations chosen had to have been functional for at least three years and work in to provide access to opportunities.

Also, almost 50 alliances between entities, governmental and non-governmental, were created in the context of the project to implement actions and activities to increase access to opportunities for youth in Colombia.


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