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Phnom Penh – Just a few years ago many young people in Cambodia were found to have little awareness about participation in civic life to address issues concerning them and their community. That has begun to change now. Many of young people have demonstrated greater interest to contribute to civic life after being exposed to the Loy9 programme, the multi-media initiative on youth civic education.
That was among the findings of a survey of the programme, which has been implemented by the BBC Media Action with funding from Sweden and UNDP. The programme has reached more than 2 million young people since it was launched in early 2012.
The survey – “Loy9: Reaching and Engaging the Cambodian Youth on Issues of Civic Participation” – said young people in Cambodia have a high awareness of opportunities for civic participation. The majority – 89 percent – have heard of at least one opportunity for participation such as contributing to the commune development plan, community service, participating in religious associations. Youth exposed to Loy9 demonstrated greater awareness of opportunities for community participation than those not exposed. For instance, they were much less likely than those unexposed to the programme to have not heard of any opportunity (6 vs. 18 percent). Those exposed to Loy9 were more likely to be doing community service through school (36 percent exposed vs. 23 percent unexposed), attending leadership training (19 vs. 13 percent) and participating in political organizations (27 vs. 19 percent).
The level of participation in electoral process by those exposed to Loy9 was also higher compared to those not exposed to it. The survey said a higher proportion of exposed youth compared to unexposed youth, for instance, had voted in national elections (68 vs. 63 percent). Similarly, youth exposed to Loy9 were more likely than those not exposed to have voted in the Commune Council elections (52 vs. 44 percent).
Cambodia has the youngest population in Southeast Asia. Loy9 was launched in January 2012. It was prompted by a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices study which had found a low awareness among many young people about the importance of civic life and the function of the country’s key institutions such as the National Assembly and commune councils. Many young people were also found to have difficulties expressing themselves about issues concerning them and their communities.
In trying to narrow these knowledge gaps and encourage young people to be more active in civic life, Loy9 uses multi-media platforms including TV series, radio call-in show, live activity and social media channel to. It has since reached more than 2 million young people, successfully meeting the original target.
The survey was released on 17 March, three days ahead of the debut of Loy9 TV Series 3 which focuses on conflict resolution among youth.
"Cambodia is full of youthful energy, rich culture and potential for dynamic development. UNDP is pleased to have an opportunity to think together, work together, and build our future together with your participation in development through Loy9," UNDP Country Director Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki said in her remark at the premiere of the Loy9 TV Series 3 on March 20.
"We trust that the Loy9 Series 3 will continue to inspire us in shaping our future together," she added with a thank to Sweden for its financial support to Loy9 also.
Despite improvement, more remains to be done to enable confidence for greater civic awareness and engagement in areas such as democracy and decision making, rights of citizens, the role of the National Assembly and commune councils, the importance of participation and equality, according to the Loy9 impact report.
“This would enable greater levels of knowledge and understanding, confidence of expression and possibly go beyond young people’s awareness of participation opportunities but translate into greater participation in the community and electoral participation,” it said.