EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE TO DEFINE THE CONTRIBUTION THEY WANT TO MAKE IN THE WORLD

01/09/2019 – Pathways is a Fight for Peace education course aimed at young people aged 16 and over and offering holistic support for participants to push forward and shape their futures. We put some questions to London Academy Education Coordinator, Munira Mohamed to find out more about the course, the support it offers and how it challenges Fight for Peace members to determine the contribution they want to make to the world.

1. Can you explain what the Pathways education programme is and how it aims to support young people?
Pathways is an alternative education programme designed to support young people that are not in education, employment or training, especially young people who have had a history of disrupted education. That may mean that they have had bad experiences in formal education, that they have not received the support they required to excel, that they were excluded from school or simply they haven’t obtained the qualifications that they wanted or required.

Pathways is made up of four subjects, including functional skills in English and maths, where young people have the opportunity to explore their learning and gain qualifications.

2. How is Pathways different from other education courses?
The approach to teaching is non-traditional, we don’t say that we are a school, we don’t say that we are a college. We very much see the young people as members of Fight for Peace and as taking ownership of their own learning and the additional supportive mechanisms from youth workers and coaches. Having the facilities that we are fortunate to have here at Fight for Peace makes a much more open and experiential learning environment.

We put a lot of emphasis on tailoring the subjects so that they are relevant to young people’s lives and I think with functional skills there is quite a lot of flexibility to do that. In English for example we talk a lot about voice how young people want to use their voices as a way to get them to think about language and to think about how they communicate. It’s about empowering  them to think about what they want to do in their future and the pathway that they want to get there, but also the kind of contribution they want to make to the world and in their lives.

3. What are the main barriers to young people gaining the skills, knowledge and qualifications they require and how does Pathways set out to address this?
Young people on Pathways come from a range of different backgrounds. Some may have gone to schools where there are low expectations of them and their abilities. Sometimes as a student you can get labelled especially if you are seen to have behavioural needs. Also, some young people come from difficult family backgrounds where maybe they haven’t had the support they needed or they might not have had the resources in the household. Some may also have faced peer pressures to get involved in criminal activities  and so those are also some of the issues that young people are increasingly facing.

But I think the biggest barrier is actually young people not believing in themselves and not having had people that believe in them and their abilities. I think to come from a place where you can’t necessarily see a future and to start thinking about what that could look like is really exciting, and that for me is really what Pathways is all about.

4. How is Pathways holistic in its approach to supporting young people to develop?
We offer mentoring, combat sports and personal development, as well as the core subjects, as a way to provide young people with additional support. The holistic support is so important because I think that in traditional schooling systems young people who have been requiring that extra bit of support have not necessarily had their needs met. It is very important for us to be able to empower young people in all aspects of their lives and not just in the classroom.

If young people are facing any emotional, financial or any other difficulties, we are able to provide them with the right support. What you find oftentimes is that those things impact learning and so if we can actually support with that we can create a much more supportive learning environment and one that allows young people to flourish and reach their potential.

5. What changes do you tend to see in the young people that complete the Pathways course?
I think some of the main changes that you see is an increase in drive to reach goals and develop ambition. We see young people develop a curiosity for learning and for developing and I think also a willingness to challenge themselves and be challenged so that they can become more driven and open minded and have confidence in their own abilities and in their decision making.

6. What motivates you to be involved with the education programme at Fight for Peace?
I want to make a change in the world and I have discovered that the biggest way to make an impact is through education, by opening doors that otherwise might have been closed for some young people. Education allows young people to navigate through life and understand the environment and world that we live in, and I think that it is the most powerful tool to be able to understand yourself and the people around you and therefore what you want to contribute to the world. For me education is vital because it is you deciding what is best for you rather than people telling you what you need to change.

I think Fight for Peace is unique in that it has the right supportive infrastructure for young people: from our employment and support services, to our youth council and other programmes we offer for younger age groups. I think that we offer a range of programmes that give young people the opportunity to meet lots of their different needs. I think in youth work you don’t always get the opportunity to tackle all of those barriers that young people face and I think that here at Fight for Peace we have a very holistic and a very rich approach to youth development.

7. Can you share any inspiring moments that you have had since getting involved with Pathways at Fight for Peace?
I was talking to one of my students who was quite shy and hesitant to participate because they were scared that they were going to make a mistake. We had a really good conversation about the importance of making mistakes for learning and that many of the things that we tell ourselves about our abilities and our capacity to learn actually are a hindrance for that. We began talking about the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed one and actually part of the growth mindset is allowing yourself to make mistakes and develop curiosity. It’s about learning from the mistakes you make and also learning from others from how they got to where they are.

I would say that that was one of the most important moments for me as its about unlearning a lot of the beliefs that we’ve adopted about ourselves and our capacity to learn and pushing through those and demonstrating through that that actually everyone is capable of learning at different rates. The biggest barrier to progress is our own beliefs and I think that when we understand that they are just beliefs and when we understand that they don’t define us that’s when we are able to progress.