Forest Whitaker, Oscar-winning actor, humanist and Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), announced today the PeaceEarth Foundation will launch the Youth Peacemaker Network in South Sudan in cooperation with UNESCO Juba, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport of South Sudan, Zain and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC).
The Youth Peacemaker Network will nurture a new generation of leaders committed to reconciliation and conflict prevention. Participating youth from South Sudan's 10 States will be trained by local and international experts in conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building as well as mediation skills. These youth will forge peaceful, non-violent relationships with their peers as they work together with their communities, engage with youth nation-wide, receive mentoring and training in business skills to promote attractive learning and skills-based opportunities.
"Reconciliation is a slow process, and it often takes as much time to get out of a conflict as it took to get in one," said Forest Whitaker.
"That's why it is so important to work with youth to promote the significance of education, personal empowerment and leadership to build peaceful conflict resolution skills and techniques."
With 72 percent of the South Sudanese population under the age of 30, a peaceful future for the country is in the hands of the young. "Peace is an enabling factor for the development and prosperity of South Sudan and to the building of a national identity, said Mr. Salah Khaled, UNESCO Juba's Head of Office. "It is essential to empower young people and train them with the skills they need to be tomorrow's leaders."
The program will use the field expertise of its key partners. UNESCO Juba will facilitate the secure access of youth living in remote areas.
Ericsson will provide mobile broadband connectivity, computers, and mobile phones from Sony Mobile, alongside basic ICT and social media training and tools for connecting teachers and students through the global education initiative Connect To Learn. Ericsson will provide on-site project management resources, Wi-Fi coverage, and the Ericsson cloud computing solution to support the program.
In support of its belief that mobile connectivity is a tool of empowerment to build peace and a positive agent of change, Zain will provide internet access via 35 mobile broadband dongles with capacity of 1GB per month, as well as mobile phone SIM cards for program participants.
PeaceEarth and UNESCO Juba are working together with South Sudan's Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport as well as State-level ministries and Youth Unions to establish computer centers in the State Capitals.
These centres will help participants from the Youth Peacemaker Network to share their experiences and access additional trainings through the online platform www.peaceearth.org. Zain will also support additional cooperation with governmental agencies to support and develop Sudanese youth.
Mr. Cirino Hiteng Ofuho, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, said about the project, "The fact that young people will have a place to learn and practice computer skills and communicate with youth from different States and counties, will provide them with future opportunities while also building their relationships and breaking down some of the misunderstandings which lead to conflict in the first place."
The Youth Peacemaker Network will begin its initial roll-out by holding its first training for young women and men from Jonglei. The training will take place from 12-15 December 2012 at UNESCO Juba, and will cover conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building, and mediation skills.
Over the next two years, the program will expand to include South Sudan's other nine States and will continue to support the long-term capacity development of the youth as well as providing mentoring and business skills to promote attractive alternative learning and skills-based opportunities for youth.
For more information on PeaceEarth and the Youth Peacemaker Network, please visit www.peaceearth.org.