Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Engaging high school students in humanitarian causes

1 May 2014

Engaging high school students in humanitarian causes

International humanitarian organisations should focus on raising awareness of international issues with high school students rather than always persuading them to fundraise for their cause, new research suggests.

Victoria University of Wellington graduand Rachel Tallon, who will graduate with a PhD in Development Studies in May, explored New Zealand young people’s thoughts and feelings about international aid campaigns that targeted them through school. She discovered a range of responses, including students feeling conflicted about wanting to help while also being overwhelmed by demands placed on them, and experiencing guilt if they were unable to contribute.

“There’s a fine line between inspiring young people and getting them to feel empathetic, and inadvertently causing them to develop apathy, scepticism or negative attitudes later in their adult life,” says Rachel.

The young people often reflected their parent’s attitudes, says Rachel, including cynicism about ‘where the money goes’. However, one of the big differences between the attitudes of the two groups is young people’s perception of non-government organisations (NGOs) as companies.

“They see NGOs as companies out to market their business, and view themselves as consumers. In the case of humanitarian organisations, the ‘product’ is the alleviation of poverty, so once a fundraising event or sponsorship is over it’s considered a done deal rather a life-changing experience.”

Rachel found that today’s generation is savvy about images and posters. She believes campaigns need to change their focus from the ‘crying baby with flies buzzing around its head’-type poster, which she saw evidence of in the classrooms she visited.

“The Photoshop generation doesn't take images at face value—also if they’re interested in a topic they’ll go to YouTube and get their own perspective. I found many students had travelled, so they would say ‘I’ve been there and it’s not like that all over’. I would like to see NGOs disrupting the stereotypes and perhaps finding ways for students to connect with young people in the countries they are focusing on to promote mutual understanding.”

Rachel draws on personal experience to illustrate the importance of awareness raising, telling of her daughter’s participation in Amnesty International’s Wacky Hair Day, held to raise awareness about women in North Korea who are only permitted to do their hair in certain ways.

“My daughter came back inspired and interested, rather than thinking ‘I have to get more money out of mum and dad’—and it made her think about how we live in a democratic society, unlike countries that don’t have as many freedoms.

“It can be quite draining for young people to be urged to participate in one fundraising event after the other. These students may be in a cycle of learning about a country one day and fundraising for them the next. What impression is that leaving in their minds?

“I want to challenge NGOs to think of young people not just as revenue possibilities, and to focus their fundraising efforts on big businesses.”

Rachel is currently teaching geography and education at Victoria University and delivers guest lectures for teacher trainees and NGO educators on her research findings. She has been running workshops with the Council for International Development in New Zealand, and some of her papers have become recommended reading in Master’s courses overseas where the way in which humanitarian organisations represent the poor and raise funds is an established field of study.

Rachel’s research was supervised by Dr Joanna Kidman, Dr Andrew McGregor and Professor John Overton.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Cricket: Dramatic Win Puts Black Caps In Finals

In Parliament: When Parliament resumed at 2pm the House passed a motion on a voice vote admiring the performance of the New Zealand cricket team in last night’s World Cup semi-final and wishing them well for the final on the weekend. More>>

ALSO:

Moon Shot/Kills Switch: The X Factor Judges Removed

MediaWorks has today decided that Natalia Kills and Willie Moon are no longer suitable to judge The X Factor and have removed them from the show. MediaWorks CEO, Mark Weldon, said that last night on The X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable. More>>

ALSO:

Tessa Nichol: Up Up & Away In The Wairarapa

It’s an overcast morning in the Wairarapa but the mood on the ground in Carterton’s Carrington Park is anything but grey. More than 20 hot air balloons are getting ready to take off into the cloudy sky to mark the start of this year’s Wairarapa Balloon Festival. More>>

Golden Shears: Scotsman Wins Golden Shears Open Final

A Scottish shearer who settled in New Zealand to farm in Taranaki has become the first shearer from overseas to win the Golden Shears Open Shearing Championship. More>>

ALSO:

Shipped On A Bottle: Young Change-Makers Take To The Sea On Plastic Bottle Kayaks

With the aim of harnessing innovative design to construct kayaks solely from recycled materials, the “waste positive” project Plastic Bottle Kayak brings adventure into Kiwi classrooms. The call is out now for classrooms to send in messages and artwork to be inserted into the bottles. More>>

TV3 Video: Auckland Arts Festival Kicks Off

The Auckland Arts Festival kicks off March 4, with artists from New Zealand and all over the world on show. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news