Get Involved in SDGs
“Get Involved in SDGs” is an innovative inclusive solution that adopts the Farreach perspective of using participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement to improve the active participation of secondary school students in Imo State in discussing and achieving SDGs in Nigeria. It is a product of the current research work of Chijioke Dikeocha that advocates a paradigm shift in the use of participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement in a development project in Africa. Driven by the premises that; (1) Participation is an inclusive process, (2) S/he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most, (3) Stakeholders’ opinions especially the core beneficiaries of development intervention are not static, (4) The core beneficiaries of development intervention have voices and every voice demands a listening ear, “Get Involve in SDGs” recognises the youth especially the underserved secondary school students as strategic stakeholders and social change agents with potentials that will positively shape the discussion and achievement of SDGs in Nigeria. Therefore, it creates a space for these under-served persons to actively participate in the creation and communication of SDGs messages and making contributions in achieving the goals.
THE CHALLENGE “GET INVOLVED IN SDGs” WILL ADDRESS
Nigeria was one of the countries that was ranked very low in performance and achievement of MDGs. One of the major factors that most scholars and development professionals had pointed out was ineffective communication. Thus, tracing the cause of ineffective communication will lead us to the mainstream approach of communicating development initiative in Africa and other global south countries. The prominence of consumer culture that has dominated the communication landscape of development initiatives is the root of this cause.
Currently, we have less than ten years to the tick of the clock for the 2030 SDGs agenda. And the communication approach of development initiatives seems to remain the same. Many young people especially in secondary schools are often seen as a target for all kinds of communication messages and SDGs campaign programmes, thereby making them permanently remain on the receiving side of the communication process, without making any active contribution in the process. This approach promotes the consumer culture and deepens the root of one-way communication in the development sector in Africa.
In Imo State which is one of the states in South East region of Nigeria, the trend is not different. Despite many kinds of SDGs campaign programmes initiated and implemented in some secondary schools, many students lack adequate information and knowledge about SDGs, many students can not actively participate in creating and communicating campaign messages, many students cannot take part in discussions and even know avenues to make contributions towards achieving the goals by 2030. This situation is unconnected with the approach and attitude of most development programmes initiators and implementers have towards these young people. They are often seen as a target to be hit with their campaign messages and programmes.
Given these challenges, we desire to change the narrative by designing and implementing an innovative inclusive programme that gives the young people opportunities to actively participate in both creating the content and consuming the content of SDGs messages, shaping discussions about SDGs and making an impactful contribution in achieving the 2030 agenda of SDGs.
WHAT WE HAVE DONE
In 2018, I started thinking critically about finding better ways of communicating development initiatives to reach the core beneficiaries of development intervention in Africa. I carefully studied over 200 pieces of literature on communicating development initiatives and social change in Africa. In 2020, I started preparing a research paper, “Using Participatory Communication for Effective Stakeholder Engagement: Farreach Perspective” to document my findings. I submitted the research paper to an international peer-reviewed journal, Communicatio, published by Taylor & Francis on December 4, 2020. After the first review of the research paper by the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, the editor sent it to other blind reviewers. The research paper is in the peer review stage now. To put the perspective of my research paper into practice, I designed a communication intervention strategy, ‘Get Involved in SDGs” to improve the active participation of secondary school students in Imo State in discussing and achieving SDGs in Nigeria. For over two years now, I took this task as a career and academic project, I have committed a lot of time and resources to achieve the goals. It has been self-funded. Moving the project beyond this stage, I am soliciting assistance to translate the Farreach perspective from an idea to a practical model of communicating development initiatives in Africa.
WHAT WE INTEND TO ACHIEVE THROUGH THIS PROGRAMME
The successful implementation of this programme will help us to improve the participation of over one million young people in Imo State, Nigeria, especially young people in secondary education in getting involved in the discussion and achievement of SDGs in Nigeria. By implementing this innovative inclusive solution, we will examine how these young people learn about SDGs, the participatory culture of these underserved young people in both online/offline communities in creating and communicating SDGs messages and making contributions in achieving the goals, and thereby improve their participatory culture. To prove our claim that the implementation of Farreach perspective of using participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement will deepen the root of participatory culture of the underserved young people in creating and communicating SDGs messages, discussions, and making contributions in achieving SDGs in Nigeria, we will design measurement indices to demonstrate the influence. Finally, we intend to use this programme to examine the intersection of participatory communication, participatory culture and participatory development in achieving sustainable development in Africa
Major Objectives of “Get Involved in SDGs”
- To test the implementation of the Farreach perspective of using participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement in a development initiative in Africa.
- To examine how the effective implementation of Farreach perspective of using participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement will deepen the root of participatory culture that guarantees participatory development which enhances sustainable development in Africa.
- To examine the intersection of the Farreach perspective of using participatory communication for effective stakeholder engagement, participatory culture, and participatory development in achieving sustainable development in Africa.
- In line with the United Nations creed of “Leave nobody behind”, we believe that these underserved young people in over 400 secondary schools in Imo State, Nigeria who do not have adequate access to information about SDGs and space to make their contribution in achieving the SDGs should be provided with the necessary information and opportunity to participate in shaping the discussion of SDGs and achieving the goals in Nigeria.
- Besides creating awareness about SDGs and providing space for these underserved young people to actively participate, this programme aims to provide life skills such as critical thinking, creative thinking/writing, problem-solving mindset, and media literacy to the underserved young people, and thereby enhance their participation in the discussion and achievement of SDGs in Nigeria.
- This programme will produce a transmedia product called “Voices from East of the Niger”.
ABOUT “VOICES FROM EAST OF THE NIGER”
“Voices from East of the Niger” is a product of the implementation of “GET INVOLVED IN SDGs” in Imo State, Nigeria. It is a transmedia product that gives the underserved young people in secondary schools the opportunity to express their potentials in creating and communicating SDGs campaign messages, discussions, thoughts, and perspectives in achieving the goals. “Voices from East of the Niger” will be produced and communicated in different media channels such as print media, new media, and electronic media. It will capture essays, short storytelling (fiction/non-fiction), short videos, audios, podcasts, blogs, and talk