“I want to be a youth leader. I want to be proactive, and be a model for other students” – Arunny, a youth participant in the Youth on the Move Program.
On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, students from two secondary schools in the rural Cambodian province of Prey Veng gathered for a workshop on civic engagement hosted by Youth on the Move. Among them was ninth grader Arunny, who had come from a nearby commune to attend the training.
An aspiring teacher, Arunny’s favorite subject is math. She enjoys research, and likes to think about how she will decorate her own future classroom.
Arunny is a student council leader in Prey Veng, and is one of the first participants in Youth on the Move’s new initiative to revitalize the Cambodian student council system and give youth leadership opportunities in their own schools. When asked why she had come to the day’s event, a series of lessons and activities on becoming involved in local government planning processes, Arunny explained, “I want to participate in Youth on the Move because I want to be a youth leader. I want to be proactive, and be a model for other students.”
Recognizing that the student council system can empower students like Arunny, as well as provide enriched learning opportunities and enhance school relevance, Youth on the Move has helped to activate student councils at four lower secondary (Grade 7-9) schools in Prey Veng. These student councils work closely with school management to improve the school and lead activities, as well as coordinate the creation of various student clubs that do everything from peer-led life skills and computer classes, to running the school newsletter, attending local government meetings, and setting up small school enterprises.
The day’s civic engagement workshop gave students information on how they can become involved in their local government, and then asked them to work in groups to develop their ideas. One group of youth wrote an action plan for advocacy on an issue of their choice, while the newsletter group developed a plan for an article about youth involvement in commune councils.