Students collecting their Commonwealth Diploma in Youth Development Work have praised the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
The two organisations have collaborated to offer accessible courses to public servants, staff from non-governmental organisations and school leavers in Malaysia who want to become youth workers.
The programme is part of The Commonwealth Higher Education Consortium for Youth Work programme, which supports the education and Training of practising and aspiring youth workers. The consortium assists universities in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe to offer low-cost, internationally recognised qualifications in youth development work. It is led by the Commonwealth Secretariat and harnesses the strength of partners such as the University of West Indies in Jamaica and the National Youth Agency in the UK to upskill and professionalise the youth work sector and contribute to youth development.
"Youth work carries a set of values that encompasses treating young people with respect, promoting their voice and unleashing their potential whilst negotiating increasingly complex challenges," said Commonwealth's education advisor Dr Amina Osman.
She added: "Training youth workers allows them to acquire a unique set of skills, attitudes and knowledge through a combination of formal education and field experience. That is why we remain committed to continuing our collaborations with universities and other development partners, because, ultimately, professionalising youth work ensures that we strengthen support for the personal development, civic and social participation of young people, as well as their educational development."
Collecting her diploma during a ceremony at the Commonwealth headquarters in London, Nur Atiqah Mohd Azman said: "I appreciate the Commonwealth because it has given me the opportunity to pursue my dream, further my studies, and gain knowledge and experience to make myself better."
Fellow graduate Khairaney Shatar added: "I am very proud! They have taught us a lot about how to support young people and how we can understand their concerns and get to know them. I hope one day, this diploma programme will be worldwide so everyone will take notice of the youth and ensure they are never left out."
In total, 23 students graduated from the course this year and will be eligible to further their studies and work towards a bachelor's degree.
At the ceremony, UPM Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Ismi Arif Ismail and programme coordinator Dr Siti Raba'ah Hamzah lauded the joint initiative.
Dr Ismail said: "We are so proud to have a very strong support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, and we plan to have another strong collaboration with the Commonwealth in the form of our Bachelor's Youth Development Work programme, which will be a pathway for our diploma students so they can further enrich their knowledge and skills in Youth development work. We hope our graduates will be the advocates and strong pillars of youth development in our country and across the globe."
The graduation comes on the heels of the launch of the flagship Year of Youth - a special designation from a mandate by Commonwealth Heads of Government who met in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2022. There, Heads declared a focus on empowering young people, stakeholders and governments to speed-up progress on youth-focused issues in 2023.
"This cohort of the Commonwealth Diploma in Youth Development Work is part of a watershed moment in our Youth Programme, as we collaborate with our governments to deliver on the pledge to put the spotlight on youth engagement and youth development in 2023 and to work with young people as equal partners in solving perplexing challenges such as climate change," said Commonwealth Head of Social Policy, Layne Robinson.
He added: "Remarkably, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) – five decades of working hand in hand with governments and with its partners, which include institutions like UPM, to support the education and development of millions of young people, and to give thousands more the opportunity to sit beside world leaders and advocate for their peers.
"One of the key aims, when the CYP was established in 1973, was to ensure that youth officers and youth officials in Commonwealth member states have the capacity and technical skills to support our growing population of young people. Today, we continue to train and support youth workers to design and deliver strong and effective youth development policies and programmes."
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat