Young Leaders School: New Opportunities for Guatemala's Youth
45 young leaders from indigenous cities and communities of Guatemala graduated from a Sociopolitical Training Course, developed by local organization SODEJU. This course is part of the Young Leaders School, an initiative supported by the Civic Engagement Alliance. This is the beginning of a learning process that will allow young people from traditionally excluded communities to foster citizen participation spaces and become actors of change.
The young leaders that participated in the Sociopolitical Training Course have great potential to generate changes in their communities, since they already have experience in organizations and social movements, and are integrated into the National Youth Assembly of Guatemala, the National Youth Front and other organizations. During the course, they studied the structure and functioning of the Guatemalan State; they learned to use strategic analysis and planning tools to formulate projects.
In addition to attending face-to-face classes, students developed advocacy and activism projects in their territories, such as the Walk for Peace in the municipality of Chinautla, where more than 50 young people demonstrated against sexual violence and human trafficking, and presented a document with their demands to the local authorities. They also held artistic festivals to promote the rights of youth in San Juan Sacatepéquez, Chiquimula and Retalhuleu.
In countries such as Guatemala, traditional actors such as political parties, the Catholic Church and large commercial companies have maintained control over the use of public spaces. With these activities, young people take ownership of these spaces, recovering them as platforms for expression and visibility.
"An enriching experience"
The Young Leaders School is endorsed by the School of Communication Sciences of the University of San Carlos, the most important university in Guatemala.
Being trained at the School represents a significant growth opportunity for the young leaders.
For Velveth Mijangos, who graduated from the Sociopolitical Training Course, it "was an enriching experience; by meeting other young leaders, you get to know the various problems that exist in their contexts, and how they are working to change their realities".
Mildred Abigail, another girl who took the training course said: "it was important for me to meet new people and learn new ways of working with youths. This helped me to take responsibility, and organize a specific activity within in my organization, a march of young people to commemorate the day of nonviolence against women".
Consensus for youth
In addition to being affected by Guatemala’s persistent social problems, young people’s rights are constantly violated; civil society organizations ask the State to promote comprehensive development policies for youth and allocate resources to respond to their demands.
The School for Young Leaders joins the consensus of voices that from civil society advocate for better conditions and opportunities for youth in Guatemala. Within the framework of the CEA program, scholarships are provided to train and reinforce the capacities of young leaders and design study programs relevant to their needs.