The Codebridge Youth Project falls under OpenUp’s Citizen Engagement Programme. The programme exists to enable citizens, through the use of civic technology, to create platforms to engage with their government and other sectors to improve the quality of life in their communities. Codebridge Youth (CBY) focuses explicitly on the youth demographic.
By establishing Codebridge Youth Forums, or hubs as we refer to them in OpenUp, the aim is to help drive the change they wish to see in their communities through education and technology. Firstly, and most importantly, the project's methodology ensures youth participation and youth-led solutions. Unlike a “top-down” approach, the project always kick starts with the “bottom-up” approach. This means that we host an event with the youth from the area and ask them to gather data about the youth and their needs through a summit.
The Codebridge Youth project has existed since 2018, with several hubs existing across the Western Cape in South Africa. These hubs have elected members, which are in some areas CBY forums or where the Municipality is a key partner, CBY Councils. While youth development is crucial for most governments, youth representation is often lacking, and decisions are often made in their absence or on their behalf. The project attempts to change this. OpenUp has empowered the youth in these areas by sharing knowledge on public participation, data and digital literacy.
During the public participation, session participants are taken through the municipal processes and reports (Integrated Development Plan & municipal budget) to assist them in making informed decisions in their municipality. The aim of public participation is to increase civic engagement within local government. The digital literacy workshop exposes participants to Google Suite (docs, sheets, slides and forms). The data literacy workshop offers participants specific Municipal level data available to citizens. The OpenUp team shares Municipal money, Election dashboard and Youth Explorer platforms as a starting point.
OpenUp has partnered with many South African Municipalities to drive the project, while in Rosh Pinah, we have, for the first time, partnered with a private company (Trevali Mining Corporation). Over the next five years, the goal is to establish at least ten more Codebridge Youth Hubs in South Africa and neighbouring countries, with Rosh Pinah being a great launching point for this. We believe the existence of such a structure will improve youth engagement in civic life, business development, and other important decisions affecting their lives.
For more information on Codebridge Youth and upcoming activities, visit the website and follow on Facebook @codebridgeyouth and Twitter @CodebridgeY .
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