Southern Voices in Global Education

A new booklet Enhancing Southern voices in global education meant for people working in organizations and projects that are engaged in representing the development realities of people in the South such as poverty, climate justice, human rights, environmental and gender issues has just been published.

The publication aims at engaging global education practitioners in a fruitful dialogue on how the voices, experiences and knowledge of people from the South could be engaged better in global education work in Finland. Kepa, the publisher, is the umbrella organisation for Finnish civil society organisations who work with development cooperation or are otherwise interested in global affairs.

Taksvärkki / Operation a Day’s Work Finland was involved in making the booklet and provided some case examples. Taksvärkki’s global education aims at raising a sense of global responsibility in Finnish young people and building links between children and youth in Finland and in developing countries.

In Finland, global education has been practiced for decades. Much of global education has increased awareness about global development issues in the so called developing countries/global South. Quite often it is difficult to acknowledge our own perceptions and presumptions that guide the way we represent people from the South – whose voices do we actually represent and how?

The booklet is a good read for anybody interested in global education in general or the work done by Taksvärkki in this field in particular. Two good examples of Southern Voices in Taksvärkki’s work that are featured in the publication are the Fotonovela method and the way youth are represented in Taksvärkki’s campaigns.

Fotonovela is a method that brings to light the similarities and differences between everyday lives and aspirations of youths from Bolivia, Guatemala, and Finland. In a Fotonovela workshop, young people tell their own stories combining photos and texts, and learn about the lives of other youths living in a completely different environment by reading their stories. Youths in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Finland have created stories on similar topics using the same technique.

A Fotonovela workshop enhances picture reading skills and intercultural competence. It promotes the understanding of and respect for different cultures, builds bridges between youths in different countries, and breaks down stereotypes. The stories are published on the webpage: www.fotonovela.fi.

Taksvärkki’s annual school campaigns reach over 20,000 Finnish youth, mainly Middle and High School students. Each campaign focuses on a certain country and development issue, such as gender inequality or child labor.

Taksvärkki introduces two youth from the country in question through high-quality video material as a part of each campaign. The youth are a girl and a boy and aged between 13 and 19. Thus, they are the same age as the Finnish youth that take part in the campaign which makes it easier for them to identify with each other. These two youth are the face of the campaign and represent young people from their home country.

The two campaign youth tell about their dreams and fears, their everyday life and plans, school and chores, family and free time – about everyday things that bring them closer to Finnish youth. The goal is that Finnish youth identify themselves with these youth and realize they share many of the same dreams. Taksvärkki’s campaign faces are brave, empowered youth who may have gone through difficult times but who have got past that and are now role models for other youth. Their stories make complex development issues more tangible and easier to understand. Taksvärkki’s slogan is From Youth to Youth, and these stories are one way of putting the slogan in practice.