Initiated in 2008, the Youth Empowerment Through Arts and Media (YETAM) project is an initiative by Nokia, Plan International, and local partners which seeks to give youth the skills and tools to communicate at local, national, and global level about issues impacting on their lives. Through arts, traditional media, and new media tools, youth engage in the community development process and beyond. They are trained on different forms of communication, which include verbal communication, performance, visual arts, and social media, in order to help them effectively raise their viewpoints and enter into dialogue with families, peers, community members, decision makers, and the general public. Social media and new technology allow those who formerly did not have a space at the global table to enter into the dialogue directly. To date, the project is being implemented in 6 countries in Africa (Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, Rwanda, Kenya, and Mozambique), with plans to expand to Ghana and other countries in 2010 and beyond.

Communication Strategies: 

Using mapping, participatory video, visual arts, and performing arts as a means of investigation and expression, youth, aged 12-18, work in small teams to identify resources and challenges in their communities, understand more about causes and effects of key issues impacting on youth, and learn about different viewpoints held by community members and community leaders around those issues. They then produce arts and media about the issues and develop an action plan to raise awareness and community support to begin resolving the issues. By developing youths’ communication and leadership skills, coupled with technology education and practice with information and communication technologies (ICTs), YETAM seeks to open new possibilities for youth so that they are more able to engage using 21st century skills. The importance of ownership and commitment to local development is emphasised, and the methodology is designed to form capable and positive community leadership for the future.

The arts and media are also used as a starting point to raise issues and youth viewpoints with district and national leaders and the public, and to advocate for change. At the same time, the youths’ materials are posted on the web so that the public can learn more about issues and get involved. Rather than hearing about youths' viewpoints via foreign and/or adult journalists, the YETAM project allows youth to claim their own place and directly debate and discuss the issues they care about. Curricula based on the youth’s key issues and video/arts materials are developed and used to engage additional groups in the 6 African focus countries, and an on-line curriculum for the "Global North" allows youth not living in Africa to better understand the issues and learn how to get involved. The web allows cross-country and global interaction among youth, building confidence and motivating them to continue moving forward.

In each country, the YETAM programme involves youth, teachers, local media, and arts organisations in a 1-week training of trainers, followed by a 2-week training programme with secondary school youth. A local follow-up plan is created by the youth, teachers, and local partners for organisation and continued advocacy by the youth, refresher training, and additional arts and media work around the identified issues.

Some 350 youth (according to the 2008 annual report) participated in direct skills training workshops on arts and media, including new media tools, such as mobile phone technology and applications, internet, search engines, social media, 'Flip' cameras, mobile internet, and mobile video production and editing.

According to YETAM, collectively the youth have produced around 100 short videos, 100 art works, several theatre pieces, hundreds of photographs about their lives, newspapers, and community murals on themes pertinent to them. Sixty staff, teachers, and partner organisations have been trained on child rights, child participatory facilitation methodologies, arts and media as tools for development and advocacy, and social media/new technology. About 1500 community members in 25 communities have attended events and discussions related to these materials.

Click here to view these materials on YouTube. (To turn on the captions option to see subtitles, click on the triangle at the bottom right corner of the video player. A red ‘cc’ button will appear. Click on the small triangle to the left to select language options). Some of the materials are also available on the Plan Virtual Villages website. The current redesign of the YETAM website will additionally provide a space for school-school communication and joint projects and learning across Africa and between African countries and the "Global North".

Development Issues: 

Youth, Gender, Education, Rights

Key Points: 

According to YETAM, children and youth in Africa, in general, are not expected to speak up or speak out in their families or communities; nor do they have an equal seat at the table in national and global dialogue about issues that impact them. In order to be effective in local, national, and global dialogue, children and youth need to have access to skills and tools to develop analytical abilities and leadership behaviours, and to be effective communicators. They also need access to the places where these discussions are taking place. YETEM therefore seeks to address these issues at a local and global level.

Partner Text: 

Nokia, Plan International

See video

Email from Stefanie Conrad on August 20 2009 and Plan and Nokia Annual Report 2008 [PDF] on November 14 2009.