MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT-UNICEF COOPERATION PROGRAMME 2004 ON ‘CHILD PARTICIPATION’

“Children are not the cause of poverty, they are not responsible for widespread child labour, nor are they the reason for failing education systems. It has been adults who have created these problems. And it continues to be adults who make decisions about government policies, resource allocation, and social priorities that perpetuate these problems.”  This is one familiar saying, which I’m sure many of us agree to. Even as we enter the modern world, it cannot be justified that children are still one way or another interpreted wrongly by some and not taken seriously, though rightfully, it is us, the children who would determine the future.

In support of child participation, our Malaysian Government, with the cooperation of UNICEF organized an 8-day workshop, from the 12th till the 19th of March, which called upon many children representatives of private and government organizations, to the little town of Port Dickson.

With YA Marisha, we departed from Kuala Lumpur together with many new faces. We were briefed on the programme and of course, I was excited. We were to go through a 4-day workshop first, to fully understand the CRC and its concepts, and then, be facilitators ourselves, to share our knowledge with other youth.

Upon arrival at the Institute of FAMA, we quickly checked in and began our training. Quite a formatted and direct subject matter, I was greatly impressed by the approach the adult facilitators took, successfully broaching the CRC in a manner that appealed to us teens. The workshop was divided into 16 sessions, a few namely, CRC HISTORY, CRC IN A NUTSHELL (THE CONCEPTS), SURVIVAL, DEVELOPMENT, PARTICIPATION and PROTECTION.

Mini energizers, teambuilding activities, graphic recaps and presentations were included to fully guide us through the subject matter, interactively. The sessions on a whole, though long (each day from 9am-5pm), had managed to send the message across creatively. What I truly appreciated was the fact that the adult facilitators had clearly given their level best to share their knowledge with us children, and at the same time was still open to receive constructive criticism.

Soon, it was our turn to take over. Divided into teams of three, we were to present our understanding of the topic through mini-facilitation with the whole group (around 18 of us) as practice. Each team was evaluated, and each speaker was given constructive criticism and compliments. Spotting certain flaws in each, we also went through very brief public speaking training by Uncle Bob, a member of the TOASTMASTERS, to improve our facilitation. 

At the end of the 4 days “Train the Trainers” workshop, a sudden twist took place, which was contrary to our initial assumptions of what was to be next on the agenda. We were told that not all of us would be given the chance to facilitate a new batch of youth from Negeri Sembilan in the next session. Youth facilitators would be determined through voting on our earlier presentations during the earlier workshop. Though a little surprised, I was confident I did a fairly good job, what with the amount of effort put in. True enough, both Marisha and I were in the list of top 3 facilitators.

While the rest of the youth continued public speaking training, the 8 of us, chosen to facilitate and moderate the programme for the incoming new batch of youth proceeded to work hard at preparations. We carefully drafted out our lesson plans and practiced.

The next morning, the new batch of youth came in for the workshop, and I was glad to see the amazing turn up. Around 20 youth attended, from many different backgrounds and of different races. I was the first to present, along with Danial from YAWA, and it was important that both of us set the right first impression for the new participants. Excited, we gave our best and were glad to receive fabulous response. As our turn ended, we handed the workshop over to the next facilitators. I was delighted, but, my work wasn’t done, I had another 2 more sessions, and had to continue preparations.

At the end of it all, all 38 of us sat in for the last workshop, to wrap everything up. With a final look at the National Plan of Action, we decided within each organization we came from to carry out activities, which would significantly solve the issues relating children within our community, from then till December, where another workshop of the same sort would take place as a follow up.

Finally, it was time for us to leave the splendid town of Port Dickson, where we had grown to love. It was undoubtedly an amazing experience for all of us, and I, myself had learned and discovered many new things. Though I was glad to head home after 8 whole days away, I would also miss the new friends and the fond memories we had.

Report by
YA Sarah Chen