Student Engagement Task Force: A Step Towards Including Student VoicesCLCC meeting in Kigali, Rwanda
CLCC - Student Engagement Task ForceAuthor: Dhinesh Radhakrishnan, Purdue University
Global Refugee Youth Consultations state, “Refugee youth are often neglected in the dedicated programmatic responses of the UN, NGOs, and other organizations working in humanitarian situations. Youth have skills, abilities, and needs that are rarely fully recognized. There is a need, therefore, to reach out and hear from them about the challenges they face, their aspirations, and what support they need to shape positive futures.” (pp.2). On 25 January 2019, at the CLCC meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, a formal discussion was initiated on the need for greater student engagement within the CLCC, which resulted in the formation of a Student Engagement Task Force (hereafter “SETF”).
The SETF, led by Purdue University, was formed to identify student leaders from member organizations and engage them throughout the year to develop the systems and structure for student engagement based on the needs identified by Abdi Bashir, Student Leader from BHER, Dadaab presenting about SETF to the Geneva Summer School Students at the two-day SETF event in Nairobi 26 students themselves. Refugee students who are elected democratically represent their communities’ perspectives and voices, provide a realistic picture of the field operations and thereby enhance the knowledge gathered and actions taken by organizations implementing higher education programs in crisis contexts.
Engagement in the CLCC allows students to grasp the bigger picture of how individual operations work, and the decision-making that underpins programmatic development. The SETF was formed for one year to coordinate the discussions and tasks necessary to establish a student committee within the CLCC. Currently, ten student members from four CLCC member organizations (BHER, InZone, Kepler, OUR) and five sites (Kakuma, Dadaab, Kuala Lumpur, Kigali, and Kiziba) have collaborated to fulfill the tasks of the SETF.
The democratically elected SETF members met virtually four times in 2019, and have continued to collaborate via WhatsApp to meet their planned deliverables. The students led a virtual session during the CLCC meeting in Copenhagen and emphasized the importance of equitable representation and opportunity for students within the CLCC, and they noted that the SETF is a well-thought first step in the right direction. One example of the SETF contribution is that students were able to provide feedback to member organizations on the need for learning materials to be co-designed with students.
From 14-15 December, a meeting of the SETF was held in Kenya at Kenyatta University alongside the Geneva Summer School program and included SETF members from three different locations: Dadaab, Kakuma, and Kigali. SETF members discussed different subjects such as creating democratic election processes in all programs and establishing SETF election criteria; the membership and leadership structure for SETF; and goals and action plans for 2020. They drafted four principles for identifying student leaders: (i) fair, (ii) democratic, (iii) diverse, and (iv) inclusive. Currently, the core membership of SETF is building networks with other CLCC members, identifying additional student leaders, and strategically planning effective representation moving forward.
*To read other stories from the 2019 CLCC Yearbook, click here.