Scouting: The Global Education Youth Movement The World Needs To Recognize!

It is time for every young person to join the Scout movement as a Global Active Citizen!

In an era of the “Millennial generation of Change-makers and Change-Agents” it is surprising that the movement of the Scout is not on the lips of every young person who calls themselves a global citizen.

At Least one in five people would have heard of the word “Scout” but the stereotype of what or who a Scout is and does never seems to connect immediately with an unfamiliar citizen. Somehow this movement as big and old in existence as it is, (Since 1907), seems to have failed in communicating beyond the stereotype of “just another youth development program!”

Why should “Scouting” not be regarded as just another development program for young people? What makes it worthy to be more recognized today better than ever?

This was the curiosity and question I had in my mind when I honored the invitation to cover and experience as a Journalist, one week living, dining, conferencing with over 1800 Scout delegates representing 169 National Scout Organization serving over 50 million Scouts.

With no comprehensive idea of Who exactly a Scout is, What a Scout does or how Scouting really matters to anybody talk less mattering to the world, I packed up my luggage to a city I had also never heard of, Baku, Azerbaijan! A nation on the cross-roads of Europe, Asia and Middle East, generally known as a rich oil and gas country but sells its best asset as being equipped of good people, richest history, culture, traditions, diverse nature and amazing fresh cuisine! As a sideline note, one major historic first for this nation of Azerbaijan is that they were the first country to declare Democratic Republic in the Muslim world and equaled males and females on voting.

Baku, Azerbaijan hosted the 41st World Scout Conference themed “Together for Positive Change” — which was just completed this August. This one week conference of investigating and learning about Scouting proved to me that the Scout Movement has been highly underrated and been kept the world’s biggest secret from the global youth!

If there are over three billion under thirty young people in the world, how is it that only around fifty million are a part of this global movement? In Africa for instance, where there are over 200 million young people, only five million are part of the Scout movement. I am under 30, I also asked myself same question — why am I not yet a Scout and part of this movement!?

One of the reasons why Scouting attracted my radar is because of who seems to be the new face of the Scout movement, the newly appointed Secretary-General for the World Organization Scout Movement (WOSM), Ahmad Alhendawi. I had profiled him here on Forbes while he was the United Nations Secretary-General Envoy on Youth. During his tenure at the UN, he achieved tremendous success in engaging millions of young people to care about issues affecting the global development of youth. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been another avenue he has used to encourage young people to care about global issues. With his transition to the Scout Movement, it is inevitable and automatic that he carries along his audience from the UN to take a second glance at what Scouting is really all about. This transition makes him again, the youngest Secretary-General the Scout Movement has ever known. An intriguing fact that fascinates young peers, perhaps why this 41st World Scout Conference held in Baku, Azerbaijan has been recorded as the largest World Scouting Conference in history.

The new face of this movement in addition to this successful conference definitely has revamped the direction of the Scout Movement. The conference main focus was to discuss resolutions in the main areas of development of the future triennium of WOSM. New Youth Advisors, New Chair Committee, added goals and objectives and more were all voted and agreed upon as this Movement set sails their program for the next three years.

The conferencing of 1800 delegates from 169 National Scout organization was one indeed quite magical — with the most interesting aspect being my conversations and interviews with key partners, ambassadors, members present at this conference in Baku.

With the branded slogan of “Creating a better world”, the Scouts are able to practically do so through the World Scout Programmes. Key initiatives such as Messengers of Peace (MOP), World Scout Environment Programme, Scout Centres of Excellence for Nature and Environment (SCENES), Scout Aid Nepal/Haiti, Safe from Harm, Food for Life, KIACIID partnership/Dialogue for Peace, Cub Scout Centenary are some of the global initiatives that creates the room for active citizenship for Scouts.

Since the introduction of the Messengers of Peace Initiative in the Arab Region, May Abdelhadi, Palestine (Arab Region) has been an enthusiastic advocate for the empowerment of young women. May has inspired many young girls to support emergency relief actions and engage refugees in conflict areas with activities that address mental health. She strongly promotes community development initiatives and collaboration between Guides and Scouts.

In Colombia, Monica Figueroa, initiated a Messengers of Peace project named Books For All. The founder of a local foundation advocating literacy and opportunities for underprivileged children at risk, she started this project to inspire Scouts in Colombia to collect books and distribute them to various local communities. Thus far, the project has contributed over 20,000 books to more than 200 local libraries, and has become a global campaign. Colombia is a vulnerable country where we have violence problems, during the sixty years that we’ve had have internal conflict, she tells me. In these conditions, the education is not very good. I grew up in a city located South of columbia where I did not have enough opportunities to get free books to read. When I became a Scout member, I was thinking we can help collect books and create libraries for vulnerable people, because books are a good opportunity to learn and gain knowledge. In 2013, I got the opportunity to participate in the Inter-American leadership training. In this training, I met a lot of good friends that were following this idea of creating libraries in the whole continent. So I came home with this idea and started working to collect free books for vulnerable people. Messengers of Peace (MOP) is a big network so I spread the idea with my brothers and sisters in other Latin American countries and they started to do the same. They started to collect books from donations to create libraries in their own communities. For me, it is really nice that if you work with passion and have commitment to an idea to change the world with something, you can do it and you can invite a lot of people to make the change with this idea.

Monica and May are part of 24 recipients of Messengers of Peace Hero Award received in November 2016, an accolade bestowed by the government of Saudi Arabia on behalf of His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia. The Award was first introduced in 2012 to recognise Scouts, volunteers and professionals as heroes in their communities for their outstanding work towards creating a better world.

With Scouting being described as the World’s leading educational Youth movement, Scouts define Global Education as a creative approach of bringing about change in our society. As an active learning process based on the universal values of tolerance, solidarity, equality, justice, inclusion, cooperation and nonviolence. Scouting is entrenched in Global education of the young people by raising their awareness of global challenges such as poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, violent conflicts or human rights which allows them develop deeper understanding of the complexities of these global issues, encourages a self-reflection on their own role in the problem, aims to change their attitudes by motivating and empowering these youth to become active in a responsible way.

The premise of Scouting simply indicates that the Global Education Scouts get is on how to be better Global citizens which is an Education for Life. It dawns on me that as a technical default, every young person who regards themselves as a changemaker, a global active citizen, as someone who is working on solutions to global development challenge might as well become an honorary Scout member. Fact is, In these dire times of awakening and need for global active citizenship, being engaged in solving a global challenge is made easier through the platform and the movement of Scouting. More than ever, young people should take advantage of the Scout Movement and use the avenue to push the change they desire to see in the world.