In June 2014, the Whitaker Peace & Development initiative (WPDI), in partnership with Ericsson, Zain South Sudan and UNESCO, launched the Youth Peacemaker Network program in Eastern Equatoria, one of the ten states of South Sudan. Since then, the first group from the South Sudan Youth Peacemaker Network have graduated, despite the challenging backdrop of conflict and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
A group of 18 Teacher of Teachers have completed the fourth and final training session in conflict resolution, meditation and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The Teacher of Teachers were selected from the nine different counties of Eastern Equatoria and participated in four, one week long, training programs.
Ericsson and Zain are the technology partners of the WPDI program, providing mobile phones, tablets, internet connectivity and various training programs such as ICT skills and tools to promote peace, by using the internet and social media for positive and peaceful messages, as well as early conflicts prevention and resolution.
Part of the initiative in South Sudan includes the deployment of computer and literacy centers in each of the nine counties in the Eastern Equatoria State. For this initiative, Ericsson provided Connect To Learn solution(s), which consists of an ICT-based educational platform with cloud-managed open-source software loaded in the computers for students and trainers, as well as projectors and mobile broadband access points.
Isil Yalcin, Vice President and Head of Ericsson North East Africa says; “Education is one of the most powerful tools, which can enable young people to become advocates for change in their communities. At Ericsson, we believe in using technology for good, which is why we are using ICT to narrow the digital divide and empower the South Sudanese youth with the technology which will facilitate their future peace-building efforts.”
Basel Manasrah, Zain South Sudan CEO said, “It is one of Zain’s core values to invest in the communities in which we operate and we are of the strong belief that the work being undertaken by WPDI is well aligned to this goal. We remain determined to raise the capacity-building abilities of people in South Sudan at the grass roots, and investing in youth is investing in the future of the country.”
The Youth Peacemaker Network will nurture a new generation of leaders committed to reconciliation and conflict prevention in South Sudan. Participating youth are trained by local and international experts in conflict resolution, leadership, peace and community building as well as mediation skills. To goal is to create 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.