Youth Coordinator of the Association XY, Amer Džekman: Peer education with a comprehensive approach and Program Y can reduce peer violence in schools

19 Shkurt, 2020 Lajmet e YMI-të, Program Y

“Be a Man Club and Real Girls Sarajevo” is an organized club of young people operating at Association XY which brings together a large number of members who, in this way, for many years have acquired life skills and competences that enable them to enter the adult world easier and healthier.

Amer Džekman

Be a Man Clubs across Bosnia and Herzegovina are part of the project Young Men Initiative II (YMI): “Promoting Healthier Lifestyles among Youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina by Challenging Gender Stereotypes II”, supported by the Government of Switzerland, OAK Foundation, Austrian Development Agency and CARE International Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to Youth Coordinator of the Association XY, Amer Džekman, the young men and women’s club is working hard to create and implement activities planned for this year.

“Young people from the Be a Man Club and Real Girls Sarajevo are currently working on creating an online campaign for Valentine’s Day, through which we open a virtual dialogue with young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships, relationship violence and social stereotypes that generate inequalities. We will do our best to organize meetings of peer educators with other Be a Man Clubs (BMC) throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina this year, mostly with those that have just been established such as BMC Zenica and BMC Brčko. This idea came from young people, peer educators at the Leadership Camp that was held last year at Sutjeska. The fact that was recognized by the research we conducted was confirmed by the young people – the best way to educate young people is when they spend time with each other and exchange experiences and opinions, especially when it comes to peer education. This year again, we continue to conduct peer education workshops at the Secondary Dental School Sarajevo and the Fifth Grammar School Sarajevo, and special emphasis will be placed on recruiting new members,” Džekman said.

All workshops that have been implemented in schools are created using a methodology based on the scientifically based Program Y, which received an award for one of the 12 best European programs to work with young people.

“Program Y is the source of all the thematic units that our young people implement in high schools. After each workshop cycle, we talk to peer educators to get feedback on what could be improved during the implementation of the workshops. Thematic units, knowledge and skills conveyed to students remain the same as in Program Y, except that we work on creativity in the course of implementation to make them interesting to students.”

“There is no longer any resistance to these topics and this type of education at school because teachers have also recognized the benefits of this type of work with children. Peer education is an integral part of our system. When it comes to parents, activities that take place in school are presented through parent meetings, with a particular focus on peer education. In the absence of negative remarks, I think that they are satisfied when their children share their experiences from the workshops and when they talk about topics that are imperative to the time we live in.”

Principal of Secondary Dental School Sarajevo, Elvira Jašarbašić

“Every year there is a shift of generations and every generation of young people has something that is ‘cool’ to them during a certain period of time. We try to use modern channels of communication to present them with topics that are generally about healthy lifestyles. This includes prevention of violence, puberty and psycho-physical development of young people, mental health, sexually transmitted infections, prevention of the use of psychoactive substances as well as gender issues – gender and sex. Along with peer educators, young people grow up with thematic units that are fully adapted to them. In this way, they gain information and acquire skills that make them stronger for all of life’s challenges,” Džekman explains.
Peer education is one of the best methods of transmitting information in schools because there is a young person in the class who in a very interesting way involves other students and transfers certain knowledge.

“But not only knowledge, all workshops have the potential to enhance existing and develop new life skills in participants, which is a key prerequisite for preventing violence and promoting healthy lifestyles. Knowledge without skills, without life competencies will not be fully utilized as with those young people who have both,” Jackman explains.

Administrations of schools involved in the project, their teachers, fully support the collaboration with the Association XY.

“We constantly receive calls from primary and secondary schools that want our peer educators to hold workshops for their students as well, which means that this practice has been recognized as one of those by which young people learn faster and better.”

Peer education has a great impact on young people and can reduce school violence.

“Peer education can influence the problems that are happening in schools, but it is not enough. In addition to peer education, the involvement of entire school, parents and NGOs is also needed to ensure a comprehensive approach, of course, along with a program that can ensure quality in the education such as the Program Y,” Džekman concludes.

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