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U-Report allowing youths to be heard

A number of young persons gathered at the BTL Park to witness the launch of the U-Report. The U Report is a platform that youths can access to voice their opinions on issues that pertain to them.   Dr. Susan Kasedde, the UNICEF Representative in Belize told Love News that the U Report is a mobile based platform established to create a space for young people.

Dr. Susan Kasedde –  UNICEF Representative in Belize: “What it is has become is a platform for people of all ages, children and adult to really focus on Human Development issues as they affect children so that we can have a gradual progress to achieve a new child friendly society so it’s a space where you gather data from people young and old on health, on education, on social norms related to violence prevention, protection of children and all other aspects and those perspectives are now available to influence program designs, policy making and advocacy.”

Kasedde went on to explain how it works.

Dr. Susan Kasedde –  UNICEF Representative in Belize: “Well the way that it works is very simple. We have established UNICEF, NCFC and the National Report steering committee. We have established two channels at the moment that anyone can use to sign up using facebook and you can also sign using text because we are partnering with BTL and with Smart so Smart and BTL users will be able to sign up to the U Report platform for Belize using that channel. We are also hoping to open up a third channel which is whatsapp so this really just sort of the door through which you go to access the platform. Once you are registered you can receive information for example, invitations to participate in polls on a range of questions and they can be from any sector on any issue.

Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) and Smart have partnered with UNICEF to allow youths to sign up through text messaging.  Love News spoke with Rochus Schreiber, the Chief Executive Officer of BTL who said that BTL was happy to be a partner in the initiative.

Rochus Schreiber – CEO of BTL: “When UNICEF approached us and sought our help in creating the U Report, we are very excited about this opportunity to partner with them. We believe that using the technology that we provide to the country of Belize for the development of young people and helping them communicate and learn and be an active citizen. An active contribution for the country is very important. UNICEF has created the platform, the U Report to enable you people to do that so that they can train and practice active contribution to democracy.”

Ernesto Torres, the Chief Executive Officer of Smart said that Smart saw the opportunity to partner with UNICEF as a ‘win win’ situation.

Ernesto Torres – CEO of Smart: “The responsibility of protecting our children, our youth for looking after their basic needs, for allowing them the opportunities to be able to reach their full potential  is actually a Belizean responsibility and for us at SMART there is very little reason for us not to participate because what is does is allow us to give back to the community. It allows us  to provide to our youths and our children and our adolescents and even the NGO’s the ability to communicate with them so that we can promote the full benefits of the program; it’s a win win. There is no doubt in my mind about it, the more we participate and the more we partner with our organizations like UNICEF and other NGOs the more business there is.”

The U-Report will allow for policy makers to have a window into the youths’ perspective on certain issues.