Alexandra Singpiel (AFS Germay) has represented EFIL, together with other fellows, as part of the Education & Skills cluster of the AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative. Thanks to this opportunity and the strong engagement in this 6 weeks initiative, she had even the chance to talk to Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and interview her on Africa-EU relations. Alexandra strengthened that “we want to have a say in decisions concerning our today and our future, and we have ideas how to shape our world, creating a partnership between Africa and Europe“. Topics of the talk included youth involvement in the upcoming AU-EU Summit and beyond, how the African Union and European Union can support learning mobility between Africa and Europe and how to equip young people with skills for the future labor market to make sure they can be economically independent.
The young people involved in the Youth Plug Initiative have spent intense weeks with the African Union in Addis Ababa and the European Union in Brussels with one objective: brainstorming on and asking for innovative ideas of how to reform and improve European-African cooperation in the education sector. The recommendations included in the Abidjan declaration developed at the Africa-Europe Youth Summit have been the basis for their work.
As Alexandra told EFILife:
Being part of the AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative gives us the privilege to have access to high-level decision-makers and bodies from both institutions. The first week in Addis allowed us to gain an understanding of the AU, how it works and learning on cross-cutting topics such as SRHR, gender, digitalisation, etc. We engaged with several ambassadors from African and European states to the AU who followed an invitation of H.E. Sabatucci, Head of Delegation of the EU to the AU, showing the great interest in our initiative and the eagerness to listen to what we have to say.
In Brussels we had the chance to meet with HR/VP Federica Mogherini who told us “Don’t ask me questions, tell me things. It’s not about me having the answers, I need your ideas.” We were allowed to sit in a session of the Africa Working Party of the Council of the EU and present them our ideas, priorities and demands regarding youth in the EU-AU cooperation – if they are taken up is a different story, but at least they were quite eager exchanging with us. We had meetings with the European Youth Forum and diaspora organisations introducing us to their previous work in order to combine forces and use synergies in our fight for youth rights across the two continents, as they for many years have been the voice of thousands of young people!
Intense discussions around post-colonialism, intercultural differences and how to cooperate in the “right” way with my fellows and the team make this #ypiijourney an enriching experience and I am looking forward to more discussions and shared learning.
Alexandra has engaged for other two more weeks to work on concrete ideas and writing the Youth Agenda which has been presented on 29 November in Abidjan to the Heads of State Summit”Together for youth, with youth”. Now we are looking forward to hearing about the follow up where the Youth Forum also plays a role.
Thanks Alexandra for having been such a great advocate and dedicated weeks for promoting cooperation between Europe and Africa in the field of education, based on the strong principle of intercultural dialogue.
More information on the AU-EU Youth Plug-In Initiative can be found here: www.aueuypii.org