UNICEF targets 25,000 youth to become U-Reporters
U-Report Jamaica, a free social-messaging tool, is expected to provide the perfect opportunity for young people to hold the Government accountable for its youth policies and programmes.
"I need Government to actually realise what's at stake and take the information and integrate it," National U-Report Coordinator Christopher Harper said during the launch of the social-messaging platform at The Knutsford Court Hotel yesterday.
Developed by UNICEF, U-Report Jamaica is designed to give local youth an opportunity to voice their opinions via weekly online polls on issues that matter to them and, in turn, become positive agents of change.
Currently, 1,013 youngsters between the ages of 13 and 29 have been registered locally as U-reporters across three channels: Facebook, Twitter and SMS courtesy of Flow Jamaica.
"This is now our opportunity to hold [the authorities] accountable if we're getting the responses in high numbers. Still, if we're seeing nothing being done, we now have an avenue to say that you are not doing anything. How are you responding to the findings?" Harper argued.
Having met the launch target of 1,000 U-reporters, the 25-year-old attorney disclosed that he was now envisioning an additional 24,000, a feat possible with more visibility and sensitisation.
Harper further noted that the local platform had a response rate of 44 per cent, which was 11 per cent higher than the global standard.
"If you think about a national survey, it's usually a thousand persons [and] a thousand responses. We already have over a thousand persons registered in the system," he disclosed.
So, even if we're able to register 5,000, we've already surpassed a national survey [sample], and that's how we're able to benefit from a platform like this," he explained.
Underscoring the importance of youth participation in the decision-making process, state minister with responsibility for youth, Floyd Green, argued that U-Report Jamaica directly aligned with what Government wanted to achieve.
"It makes information gathering easy. Young people all across the length and breadth [of Jamaica] will now be able to speak directly not only to policymakers, but to the private sector and their peers," said Green, while pointing out that Jamaica was the first country in the Caribbean to be a part of the U-Report platform.
"I think it's long overdue that we craft what we see as the Jamaican dream, and I believe that the U-Report gives us a wonderful platform to hear from our young people what they see as the Jamaican dream," Green said.