Phnom Penh– A multimedia campaign geared towards the young people of Cambodia kicked off on Wednesday aiming to help and inspire them to play more active role in their communities and contribute to country’s development.
Targeting people between 15 and 24 years of age, the campaign known as Loy9 uses a television drama and magazine show, radio talk show and online interaction to provide information and create space for young Cambodians to make their voices heard. It is also hoping to alter the long-held view that young Cambodians are too young and not yet ready for taking on greater social responsibilities.
“We want to see a change in the perception of youth and show that young people can take responsibility in helping their communities,” Colin Spurway, the Loy9 project director at the BBC Media Action, said during the launch of the campaign on Wednesday.
He added that the involvement of young people “is vital” to drive the development of their country in the future.
The BBC Media Action is producing the campaign based on a 2010 survey which found that the level young people’s participation in civic life is low. For example, just 8 percent of young people had voiced their opinions to public officials, such as government officials or staff of non-governmental organizations. According to the survey, young people also find it difficult to explain the role of important democratic institutions, particularly of representative bodies such as the parliament and commune councils. Around three quarters of respondents had heard of ‘parliament’, but two-thirds of these could not describe what parliament does.
|Young Cambodians discuss preparation for the launch of Loy9 multimedia civic education campaign on Jan. 11, 2012. (UNDP)|
The campaign and the research have received financial support from UNDP in Cambodia which considers the focus on youth as important priority.
Country Director Elena Tischenko emphasized UNDP’s focus on youth in her remarks to the launch on Wednesday. With some 32 percent of the population being between 15 and 30 years of age, Cambodia has the youngest population among countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Through collaborative programmes with partners like BBC Media Action and other government and non-government organisations, we try to help young people to become more competent, empowered and inspired participants in Cambodia’s development,” Ms. Tischenko said.
“We hope that this campaign will help inspire young Cambodians to be more active in civic life – be it through engaging with local government authorities or volunteering to help vulnerable people in their communities or protecting environment,” she added.
Starting January 15, Loy9 will debut the first episode of its TV magazine on CTN, a popular TV station in Cambodia. The show features inspirational stories about young people from all over the country who are already making a difference in their communities. The show will start with the first episode of a drama series in which a young woman develops an interest in film-making after seeing her former schoolmate returning to their village to make a film for a competition. Together with her team of feisty friends, the woman sets out to use the films she makes to help solve some of the village’s problems. The Loy9 Radio Phone-in show will also go on air on FM 103 MHz, and will be relayed by 12 provincial partner stations.
The campaign will last in 18 months. During this period, the campaign staff, using a Loy9 minivan, will travel across the country to spread the messages about the importance of civic participation among youngsters in rural areas.
UNDP and BBC Media Action said they will conduct on-going assessments of the campaign throughout the year. Spurway, of the BBC Media Action, said he hoped that the campaign would produce a positive impact to inspire young people to get more engaged in community life as well as to improve their understanding about the democratic process and institutions of their country.
“A year from now I hope a large number of people – young people – will come away with a more accurate understanding about what the commune council is and what the National Assembly does,” Spurway said.
Ms. Tischenko, UNDP Country Director said she hoped to see more young people motivated by young role models in Cambodia and examples of positive contributions they make in the society.
To the launch’s audience packed with young people, she said: “You are young, energetic and have great potential. You have a lot to contribute when you participate actively and are able to realize your potential to a fuller extent.”