Around 50 people participated in a public debate on the Inclusion of African Youth in Europe on Wednesday the 20th of November, the International Childrens' Rights day. Youth, often of African descent, debated employment, education and security topics with politicians, policy makers, academics and professionals in the Child's Rights House in Leiden. The youth participants were from various backgrounds and countries, with students, self-employed youth, community workers and artists among them. They had participated in an intensive training week with an After Summer School program and debate competition before the public debate. The public debate concluded the debate component of the program and introduced the next part of the project in which the participants will focus on advocacy.
The public debate started with the best four teams of the competition debating in a final on the motion that all migrants should get access to Europe, even economic migrants. This led to a heated debate on the rights of migrants and host societies. The public debate then moved on to a broader discussion, moderated by Jos van Beurden. The topics were education, employment and security. Each of these topics was introduced by one of the three best speakers of the competition: Nikish Vita, Joan van Geel and Nahom Isaac. A panel of experts then responded with insights based on their own experience, after which the audience could take a chance to discuss the issue with the panelists and speakers.Expert speakers included Labour MP Mr Van Laar, representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Ms Schuddebeurs and Mr De Nie representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A lot of interesting suggestions were given to address issues facing African youth in Europe. The suggestions ranged from more research on police practices to quota for companies to hire more people from African descent and the providing sufficient internships for youth and particularly for African youth that tend to have less well-developed networks for finding positions. The public debate ended with the announcements of the winners of the final, and the best public speaker of the event. Zaina Karekezi and Richard Ocheng won the debate competition from opening opposition. Nikish Vita was crowned best speaker of the Inclusion of African Youth in Europe project. She received her trophy from Akinyinka Akinyoade from the African Studies Centre.
The participants of the project have been very enthusiastic about debate and about the opportunities to lobby and make a difference within their communities. Many have indicated an interest in participating further in the advocacy training that will follow the debate training and competition. IDEA NL will compile a report on the basis of their experiences and the insights they brought to the debate to enable more effective trainings and help them in their commitment to become a more inclusive society.