International Youth Day 2015 – Youth Civic Engagement

Ms. Akke M. Draijer-de Jong, Indonesia, International Youth Day, global education magazineMs. Akke M. Draijer-de Jong is initiator and co-founder of the Foundation Kebon Sepatu Indonesia-Netherlands. She leads a team of experts in the field of Educational Projects in Indonesia and is the liaison officer and spokesperson for the Team of Directors in the Netherlands.

[email protected]

 . .

Abstract: The International Youth Day 2015 will be focused on stimulating and encouraging young people around the world to be involved in local and international public offices. This article reviews the IYD events and agenda over the past five years of activities and topics that the UN resolution A/RES/64/134  was committed to support the ongoing development and education of young people around the globe, in order to raise awareness to unite. From 2010 the topics seemed to concentrate on bridging gaps in terms of economic inequalitities, religious biases and war affected peoples, cultures and countries. The main concern this article tries to reveal is to what extent modern technology can assist in raising this awareness, promote access to eduction and information and what needs to be instilled in people’s minds to ensure the ongoing process and progress to realise the aims the various topics have suggested.

Keywords: Education, UN, psychology, economy, equal opportunities, awareness raising, global activities, emancipation issues, information technology, communication, cultural anthropology.


In 1999 the UN general assembly determined that the 12th of August should focus its attention on the needs and experiences of young people all over the world. Like any resolution made by the UN – specifically those promoting cooperation amongst youth organisations – all stands or falls with the theme chosen for this group, and presently it seems that very little attention is given to what youngsters feel to be given priority in terms of counteracting the present globally acknowledged challenges. I have taken the last five years to give closer attention to all the themes that have been taken on board to see to what extent the Voice of the Young is actually heard and understood.

international youth day, global education magazineFrom 2010 the list below show the focal points and its subsequent summaries:

By resolution A/RES/64/134 it was decided that also 2010 was the International Year of Youth; a very special event indeed, and proclaimed that the theme should be “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”. The need to stimulate a greater effort to familiarize young people worldwide with each other’s culture, believes, attitudes and social backgrounds was acknowledged by the International Community, but is just as important today, as it was five years ago. The events included a photo exhibition with the title “Visual Voices – Youth perspectives on Global Issues”, which was a great achievement. However, can we ensure that the dialogue in is continuing, and how can we reach out to those youngsters who are at risk in drowning in a sea of madness in war-striken countries like Syria and Libya? How can we stimulate the dialogue when so much noise is being made in focusing on the terrors of extreme religion activists?

In 2011 the theme “Change our World”, was meant to be a call to inspire youth initiatives at all levels…. The social awareness in showing that by means of small and individual initiatives possibilities are created to change – on local level – attitudes that can eventually lead to major changes in communities all over the globe has been proven. The long term effects will need to be monitored, and even though these initiatives may seem like a single drop on a hotplate, eventually they will prove their worth. Sustainability is however predominantly seen in educational projects;

It should be noted that we need to continue our combined efforts to offer our support to enable youngsters to provide their input in setting up these projects. It is one of my major concerns that in the various educational projects our Foundation[1] needs to be constantly aware of when we set up our yearly reports to integrate the trends that young people feel that they want to develop in determining their own future. IT and computer sciences are way behind in areas of the world, where it is so important to open up information and innovation. On the other hand there should also be openness and awareness in what areas certain knowledge should be made accessible and available. Another angle is to be aware what talents are available, and integrate those in the way certain educational projects can be established; i.e. the professional group on the island Cemara (Indonesia), consists predominantly out of Fishermen. Subsequently the ability to maneuver sailing boats (prows), is a given attribute as fishing is a continuum in the generations. Building, maintaining and designing boats is therefore a tangible progress to an already established and familiar way of life and livelihood.

It was an astute statement that the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, sent out to the community, expressing his hope for the younger generation; “Far too many of the world’s more than one billion young people lack the education, freedom and opportunities they deserve.  Yet despite these constraints – and in some cases because of them – young people are mobilizing in growing numbers to build a better future.  Over the past year, they have achieved stunning results, overturning dictatorships and sending waves of hope across regions and around the world.

Young people are gifted with open minds and a keen awareness of emerging trends, and are bringing their energy, ideas and courage to some of the most complex and important challenges facing the human family.  They often understand better than older generations that we can transcend our religious and cultural differences in order to reach our shared goals…..”

The major concern here, in conclusion of this specific theme, deserves our constant attention and efforts to eradicate: make education accessible for everyone around the world!

international youth dayInternational Youth Day 2012 tended to continue the theme of 2011 from another perspective and carried the subtitle: “Building a better world, partnering with Youth”. To be quite frank, I would not be able to foresee the option of even an attempt to build a better world without the participation, input, inspiration of the young generation… For the first time the UN organizational body of the International Youth Day made use of Social Media and Google Hang-outs to involve and stimulate discussions, brainstorming sessions etc. on an interactive scale.

The theme included “Employment; Entrepreneurship; Education, including items on sexual and reproductive health; Political Inclusion; Citizenship and Protection of Rights. It is important to involve the future generation in these areas of attention. However, it should be understood that those who can participate in these discussions are those who have access to computers, internet etc. and we need to be aware that these are not the vast majority of the world; concentrated access to internet and ownership of IT equipment are generally located in China, The US and Europe[2] (2013-2014), by which I would like to remark that these overview entail the world population and China (included in Asia in this overview) have a population of 1.369 billion estimated in 2014, and is the largest in the world. The hang-outs were the basis of a survey by which the continued development of these topics would be reviewed and integrated in a five-year Agenda, requested by the Secretary General of the UN.

Although the IYD 2013 found a promising title to concentrate their awareness program on, it seemed somewhat cynical to see that its commemoration did not achieve and fulfill its promise: “Youth Migration; Moving Development Forward”. When examining this premise, what is exactly meant by Youth Migration… The summary on the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs[3], notes that the focal point was the platform offered to the youthful participants to voice their opinions on issues related to youth migration and development. The event was co-organised with the International Labour Organisation with support from the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Funds. Again, we should consider carefully, who would take place in this forum of young and upcoming promising candidates, who were acting as representatives of the future of this planet? They were, of course joined by State representatives and experts, but the interactive panel discussion formed the basis on which young migrants and activists could share experiences.

“….The panel featured distinguished …” (read educated and privileged) “youth speakers, including a young refugee, an undocumented young migrant”. Voices of Youth formed a specific segment of the event and showed videos of stories of youth migration, showed “Akhter’s Story”[4], dealing with a refugee girl from Afghanistan, the winning video of the International Labour Organisation’s context on youth labour migration.

Very few of those, privileged to live in the safety of North-Western Europe, who never experienced the horrors of war, persecution and exile, will never understand the trauma, migrants have to go through…. It is quite obvious from the documentary that won an award during the IYD event “Akhter’s Story” that some of the EU countries, faced with these problems (i.e. Greece) are unable to cope with the incredible diversity of problems forced migration imposes on resources, intelligence and flexibility. Whilst writing this article the fugitives from Syria and Libya pose a myriad of issues for France and the UK, and requires the member states of the EU to act diligently to assist in order to prevent a further escalation for the countries involved, but also to prosecute those who see fit to make a huge profit out of the fugitive’s miserable circumstances.

Having worked for an organisation that dealt with integration of non-nationals and disadvantaged[5] children in Dutch society and the educational system for primary school children specifically, there was heartbreaking evidence and examples that those who needed to assess the environmental conditions young children were catapulted into, could not – and will never – understand the extent of trauma these children and their parents had been exposed to; subsequently, unable to realistically assess the cause of underachievement and trauma, nor adequate measures could be taken to equip fugitives with sufficient resources to overcome this disadvantaged position. Certain migrants of nationalities would overcome the “settlement” problems quite easily; Iran, Turkish, and Egyptian nationals somehow adapted well to their new environments, whilst children and youngsters from Moroccan background would not adapt to the school system and consequently chose the path of least resistance, resorting to gang-like behaviour and petty crime. The situation is being taken as a negative issue for some Dutch politicians, who would like to accentuate the “dangers and threats” of the Islam in Europe and will go to the limit in order to antagonize and intentionally offend a specific ethnic group.

 International Youth Day 2014 moved its theme to a topic that needs our immediate attention, as it is evident that the loud and clear signal of our society simply screams out for action; Major Depression and Mental Health Condition is a direct result of the frightening course our modern way of life takes its toll on the younger generation specifically.

Research and my own studies have lead to a staggering amount of data to why young people find it so very difficult to find and maintain a harmonious way of life in our present day society; to stay focused, to entertain good relationships and find and have a worthwhile career or even a steady job. One of the main reasons they seem unable to deal with the demands of our society and the way life seem to dictate and direct them in a certain harness could be found in the predictability in which the older generation has managed or ordered their lives, whilst it has become clearer that the “regular” way of planning one’s life – go to school, attend church, listen to your elders; get you diploma/degree, find a job, take the career ladder, find a partner, get married and have children, go through the paces and if you are lucky you can retire by the age of 65…. – is definitely not the way young people envisage their future.

Through the blundering and unreliable economic system resulting in the World’s economic recession these past years – caused by the unsavory role played by the banks – it has also become blatantly obvious that this way of planning one’s life is definitely not going to work for the young generation. They will need to find or make their own set of guiding principles to see a way through this jungle of surviving the challenges that life will throw at them. When young people have set their example to how the older generation has tried to create assurances that are based on illusions, then it is not surprising that they stand powerless in this new development of non-guaranteed guidelines to life….. As the poster states; 20% of youngsters between the age of 15-24 suffer from mental health disorders. In my small personal environment, being familiar with the circle of friends of my children two youngsters have recently experienced Burn-Outs, and at least three in my direct working environment suffer from Major Depression Syndrome. The people I refer to are under 35 years of age.

It should not be forgotten that the majority from these disorder stem from stress, in fact research has shown that stressful living conditions also trigger Diabetes2 and auto-immune diseases. During my final studies relating to personality and social psychology[6] I suggested that where there hardly seems to be a need for a Survival of the Fittest-mode, we now are confronted within the conditions of Western society by a change to Psychological Survival, and our brain attributes and functions need to be adjusted as such. It is a daunting prospect when we need the input and energy that the younger generation can offer, is curtailed by a huge amount of what appears to be an epidemic outbreak of Mental Health impairments.

What will hopefully give them another scope of creative tools, is their ability to take advantage of the progressing technology and a broader access to information like the Social Media and other means to gain knowledge like MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses). The awareness and deeper understanding by which other cultures can be identified and appreciated, must come with a greater tolerance and a non-bias attitude in order to live in a relative equilibrium of peace. In a growing sense of being manipulated by those who pull the strings of economic power[7] – apparently the entire World’s capital is in possession of less than 1% of the World’s population, this means that our actual input in any democratic system, is almost negligible. I can assure you that my generation has only recently woken up – probably rudely shaken to reality by the fact that our struggles to plan for a carefree “after work” life, has not and will not materialize, and most of us finding that the efforts to ensure a good pension plan, has largely been based on illusions, dished out by the insurance companies, which ultimately are not much better than the banks that have brought on the economic demise, but for their part will still continue their self-enriching bonus system.

Even though young people nowadays are aware of their limited locus of control, moving forward caught up in a dubious and uncertain interim phase, they realise that this planet has given them ample scope for work, but very few jobs are offered. Their conclusion is that they will take the opportunities to create those jobs themselves, and an increase of budding entrepreneurs emerge; exploiting, developing and enhancing their talents. By the same token they find that the political manipulations where it concerns the stimulation of racial, religious and gender biases, are not matters they choose to be overly concerned with and more inter-racial, and inter-religious partnerships/marriages are being embarked on. Division of home related tasks, including parenting, may still be more accepted in Western society, but will progressively be commonly seen in various levels of different cultures as well.

A greater awareness regarding world food and energy resources is being instilled by and for young people; it is good to see that there are organisations driven by young innovative minds, that will embark on environmental stimulus in sustainable agriculture, green energy and bio-dynamic building resources; making us all aware that if we do not stop and treat our planet with respect, we will ultimately kill everything worthwhile preserving.

International Youth Day 2015, global education magazine

International Youth Day 2015 has chosen the theme “Youth Civic Engagement”, and I would like to stress the importance of such a premise. At the same time, I also feel that it isn’t only up to them to pick up the gauntlet and watch them struggle with the mess that we, the older generations, have created for them. Too often we face the indifference of powers that be when issues are discussed relating to a “better” environment; the awareness is still lacking that we – all of us – constitute the environment; the human race is an integral part of it!

To ask and call for the engagement and participation of youth and stipulate that they should pick up the tab where sustainable human development is concerned, seems a bit off; we need to live the right example and show that it takes effort and commitment in making sure that we work together; young and older, to make this work. Active involvement in political and public life means that young people will not be constantly dealing with bad-mouthed politicians and newspaper headlines denouncing the credibility of our Prime Ministers, being caught either with their hand in the till, or in some ridiculous bedroom farce. It will also mean a closer and more critical look at the media, like TV and newspapers; reporters and journalists. Who pays their salaries and what are the interests that they serve….

Leading by example takes me to the essence of our responsibility as adults toward our fellow human beings and youngster in particular; offering and creating opportunities to enhance and discover strengths and talents, already naturally present in an individual – nurture, shelter and encourage what be an asset and one’s unique contribution to society at a later stage. Foremost we must consider that “… we have not just inherited this great planet from our fore-fathers, but we have only borrowed it from our children…”


Akke Myrielle Draijer-de Jong was born in Indonesia[8], a former colony of the Dutch East Indies, in 1956. She was raised in the Netherlands and completed her studies in Dramatic Arts in London. Presently, working in an International judicial environment, she has focused her professional life on International Criminal Law, European Law and International Human Rights, combining her favourite field of interests of Social- and Forensic Psychology, and Neuro-pharmacology and Neuro-biology. She has raised three children by herself and enjoys the input from her three stepsons of her husband; they share an adopted son in Indonesia.


  1. Observations and reports of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN
  2. TedTalk of Sugata Mitra :
  3. A Broader Horizon: Yayasan Kebon Septau – Netherlands/Indonesia:
  4. Comparative Statistics taken from:
  5. “Akther’s Story”, a documentary:
  6. W. Boskiljon – 2004: Educational organisations in the Netherlands – GOA Delft : Major changes in organizational structure to stimulate programs for primary education on municipality level:
  7. Akke M. Draijer-de Jong – The Human Spark and overruling features of Self-deception as part of our evolutionary development:
  8. Renegade Economist – 2013 ; “The four Horsemen” documentary in view of the misleading and fraudulent role of our banking system :


Photomaterials used in this article :

[1]Yayasan Kebon Septau – Netherlands/Indonesia:

[2] and



[5]GOA-Gemeentelijk Onderwijs Achterstanden beleid (Municipal Educational Policy Executive Board) – these children in the primary school age-group, deal with foreign and Dutch national children who – through circumstance, i.e. fugitive status, or children whose parents were from specific educational backward milieus, could be eligible to receive educational program support and schools received extra funds in order to get expert assistance in order to diminish the gap in educational impairment.




This article was published on August 12, 2015, for the International Youth Day, in Global Education Magazine.

Comments are closed.

Supported by

Edited by:

Enjoy Our Newsletters!

navegacion-segura-google navegacion-segura-mcafee-siteadvisor navegacion-segura-norton