SUPPORTING CHANGEMAKER IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT
Ashoka Fellows see systems-change work as a lifelong creative process. Many said that they can sustain this commitment because they have internalized the identity of “changemaker”—someone who can and will make a difference. This identity benefits their communities and professional endeavors as well as their personal development and quality of life. Having the opportunity to contribute is the greatest gift; it gives life purpose. Wanting this for those around them, Fellows help others to develop changemaker identities as is illustrated by Ali Raza Khan.
Ashoka Fellow Ali Raza Khan has instituted the National Youth Service (NYS) in Pakistan to tackle the increasing disengagement of youth from their community, as well as to address the missed opportunities of employing youth as a valuable resource for the community and their families. Ali’s paradigm not only enables the youth to uphold their character, image, and realize their potential, but it also recruits young people to address societal issues like violence, crime, and terrorism.
He has thus far developed training modules on Youth Participation, Youth Action Planning, Leadership, Mentoring, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health, and Life Skills. His model brings together youth with their parents, government representatives, and community members to address all these issues. He has also successfully replicated it in Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Through Ali’s Youth Employment Scheme (YES) campaign under NYS, Ali inspires the youth and gives them a platform to embed changemaking in their work, demonstrate creativity in designing solutions to social problems, and use their potential to improve their communities. These skills they hone will benefit them and will enable them to take meaningful action throughout their lives. In addition, by centering young people and their contributions, the idea of changemaking and the importance of fostering it – as parents, teachers, government representatives and more – becomes engrained in society more broadly.
Every year, Ali’s team engages hundreds of youth teams in changemaking projects. They have created spaces for youth-led changemaking in over 530 schools, 1200 technical and vocational institutions, 80 universities, and 210 civil society organizations. His YES initiative invented a unique Changemaker Intelligence Test which can measure students’ ability to produce social and economic impact in a wide range of environments. So far, over 20,000 young people have taken the test.
Ali has also attracted many local and international organizations to invest in the field of Youth-led Changemaking. These institutions include the British Council, USAID, USIP, GIZ, Atlantic Council, Agha Khan Foundation, KSB Pumps, PVTC, TEVTA, Higher Education Institutions, etc.