By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) a free online messaging tool used to improve adolescent and youth engagement – the U-Report.
The U-Report uses polls, alerts, and collects real-time responses. It empowers the youth and encourages them to be the voice of their communities, project facilitators said.
Andrew Morris, UNICEF Philippines chief of the field office in Mindanao, said “U-Report will now give adolescents and young people opportunity to make their views known in a much more powerful way.”
BARMM, which covers Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Lamitan, and Cotabato, is the first region in the country to host the U-Report, in partnership with the Voluntary Service Overseas Philippines and the autonomous region’s Office on the Bangsamoro Youth Affairs.
“For UNICEF, we know that the passion, ideas, and innovations of young people can transform the Bangsamoro’s future. We know that. But if young people like to do that, they need to be involved, consulted, empowered, and be equipped,” Morris said.
To become a U-Reporter, Bangsamoro youth must login to their Facebook accounts, search for the U-Report Philippines page, open the messenger app and click join. Upon joining, reporters can start participating in the polls and send reports.
“I know that the Bangsamoro young people can play the same role as the other young people in the countries around the world,” said Morris.
“Your voice matters. Sign up to U-Report and take part on the weekly polls,” he told the hundreds of youth who were present in the launching ceremony.
“For UNICEF, we will do, with our partners, whatever we are able to do to support adolescents and youth in the Bangsamoro; to have their say, to make their views known, to have strong influence over (making) decisions,” Morris said.
The Office of the BARMM Chief Minister and its Bureau of Public Information lauded the launch of the U-Report as an additional potential for further capacitating the people of the new autonomous region.