More than 70% of the population of Jordan is below the age of 30 and of these 27% are unemployed (UNICEF, 2009). The number of school drop-outs is also on the increase (presently estimated at 100,000 under the age of 16yrs). The youth of today are branded as ‘irresponsible, dis-respectful and aggressive’. A young boy/girl may resort to asocial or atypical behaviours due to feeling rejected by his/her family, peers and the society as a whole. Rather than embrace their differences, educators and parents alike may try to mold the child into the socially accepted ‘norm’. The child is left with a very-low self-concept and a lack of a feeling of belonging and therefore turns to more disruptive behaviours.
The present economic situation has forced many children to leave school and to gain employment or beg on the streets in order to assist their family. The lack of education leads to the increase in poverty and the child is left without any hope for a better future. This may then create a feeling of frustration and failure within the child who may again turn to disruptive behavior. Abusive behavior towards the youth; be it emotional, physical and/or neglect may all lead to anti-social behavior. This is one of the areas in great need of addressing thoroughly. 50% of children in Jordan are subjected to physical abuse by their parents/educators or caregivers (UNICEF; Violence against children study in Jordan, 2007). There is a great need for the children at risk and/or those already displaying anti-social or disruptive behaviours to have the opportunity to regain their self-concept and realize that they are able to achieve and be competent, capable and committed young adults building the future of the country.
The Princess Alia Foundation launched the ‘Learning Today- Leading Tomorrow’ Programme in order to build a committed and able new generation of young adults who may ensure a brighter future for the country. A group of 12 young men and women joined the programme and within the first 2 weeks 20% of the origonal group returned to formal schooling and new members joined the group.
The programme was run by counselors and leaders in the field of active training and awareness building. Through PAF’s partnership with the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), the team leaders are employees of GAM who have vast experience in running camps for the youth, thereby pooling resources and reducing duplication. Within the team are a further three university student volunteers. The management of the programme falls under the Princess Alia Foundation.
The programme is composed of four elements; each with its own integral part in the healing of the child.
Many scientific studies have been conducted on animal assisted therapy where all results have indicated a positive outcome on behavior and social interaction. (Oakley, Dawn., and Bardin, Gail, 2006)
To re-instill within the younger members of the society the important role they may play within their communities and to empower the children to be spokespersons within their communities.
Team Building & Leadership
An essential part of the positive development of the youth is learning how to work within a team. This allows for positive interactions, mutual respect and communication between team members.
Support Group – Counseling
By allowing the children to work through the challenges they are facing, in a safe and supportive environment, they will be able to approach life with more strength to face the daily challenges and will become more productive and competent members of their communities.
After completing the initial phase of training we are proud to report that ALL of the participants have now completed their high school leavers exams, 3 of the group have formed their own company working towards providing other young men and women opportunities for education and employment, and all remaining participants are ether in university and/or gainfully employed.
2013 has seen another positive development for PAF's work with the youth. In partnership with GAM we have now taken over a youth training centre in Eastern Amman. This centre will provide all youth with a safe and secure base here the may join together to learn, innovate and lead us into a brighter future.