Key Program Elements

Education and Life Skills

Development of the whole individual implies that all of the aspects of that person’s potential are stimulated, explored and fulfilled. In order for that whole individual to blossom, basic education must be available in a core curriculum of literacy, math, and science. While primary education is notionally available and free in most countries, many youth in vulnerable and post conflict societies remain at the margins and basic schooling remains inaccessible for financial, social, or basic survival reasons. Young girls are often the most severely impacted and are the first to be denied schooling in order to support the family. We believe that education is the basis for knowledge, exploration, personal strength and dignity and, as a result, it forms the basis of all UWV programs.

Reinforcing the knowledge gained through basic education is the development of a strong personal spirituality and value system that reinforces fairness, compassion, and inclusion. In conflict affected regions, the societal code has often been broken and in many cases, concrete steps have been taken by combatants to eliminate or distort the values of those within the affected communities. As a result, a critical element of each UWV program is to rebuild a positive societal code that advocates equity, compassion and caring. Instilling a belief in a larger good, the value of sharing and consideration beyond one’s self, stewardship of the land and environment, and the importance of equality and inclusiveness, in all actions and thought, are all fundamental outcomes critical to sustainable impact. These outcomes form the foundation, within UWV programs, for the development of the whole individual and the ability of that individual to build on their knowledge and education to support themselves, their families, and their communities.

Skills Development and Entrepreneurship

While basic education is essential for human dignity and forms the basis for an individual’s effective integration in society, applied and life skills are necessary for the generation of a sustainable livelihood. The ability to earn a living and build a consistent income creates the broader conditions for enhancing human dignity and the extended opportunity to assist others and give back to society. Because of their critical value, applied skills, life skills and entrepreneurship development initiatives are at the heart of all UWV programs. These program elements enable individuals and groups to create jobs for themselves and to build micro and small businesses that employ others and deliver unique sustainable value within the community. This combination of income generation and societal integration strengthens vulnerable communities and helps to rebuild the fabric of post-conflict communities, creating the environment of hope and opportunity that stimulates and encourages others.

Too often, development projects are focussed on basic skills training without consideration for what the individual will do after they complete the course. Those projects rarely consider the number of carpenters, retail shops, and seamstresses that one rural community might really require. Nor do they consider how hope and self-confidence may be negatively impacted when a sustainable livelihood cannot be built.

Unlike other programs, consideration of the broader impact of skills training within the community is a fundamental aspect of UWV delivery. Approaches to make the outcome valuable and sustainable for both the individual and the community is of utmost importance in the planning, implementation and monitoring of our programs. Solutions to encourage and support entrepreneurship in each individual and across the community are built into every UWV project to maximize the potential for sustainable impact.

Community Development

Growth within the individuals of a community without growth of the community itself will result in a mismatch that creates the seeds for envy, exclusion, and conflict, precisely the opposite of the desired outcome. As a consequence, it is essential that each program emphasize community development together with individual development. The two go hand-in-hand.

Community development programs can take many forms, from shared education and awareness initiatives to mentoring and psychological support networks, local civil society capacity development, and community-based financing organizations. The conditions and requirements of each community are unique and must be considered individually in the context of every UWV program. The process of community assessment and community involvement is a core aspect of the UWV approach to ensure each program achieves its objectives and delivers sustainable impact.

Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution

The development of capacity for peacebuilding and conflict resolution at the individual and community level is particularly critical within post-conflict societies and vulnerable communities. Programs for reconciliation, understanding, and alternatives to violence are integrated into each UWV program to build the basis for acceptance and trust, and for the reconstruction of the social fabric of the community. While education, skills development, and community development are each critical to the improvement of the human condition, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, above all, create the base for sustainable, healthy societies.

Every UWV program assesses the unique conditions within a community using an integrated human security model to identify key underlying causes of endemic conflict that must be addressed as part of its broader programs. We recognize that this program area, more than any other, is a long term issue, and that patience and consistency are required in order to change what can be very fundamental conditions of mistrust or fear. This recognition and the integration of that awareness within programs designed to achieve both short term and long term change is a critical uniqueness of UWV.