|Nominee Achievement Brief|
Since 2010 IPAV has developed its activities around a plethora of projects. Of these projects, an essential and innovative initiative has stood out: Ubuntu Leaders Academy.
The challenge to mitigate the violation of human dignity in its multiple forms especially among vulnerable people, namely migrants and descendants of migrants, children at risk, and youth, is central to the Ubuntu Leaders Academy/IPAV’s mission.
Within the Ubuntu methodology, IPAV focuses on children and young people, aged between 8 and 18, as well as young adults between the ages of 18 and 35, and educators interested in replicating the methodology which includes teachers, psychologists, social workers, civil servants, among others.
The Ubuntu Leaders Academy project was started ten years ago, in Portugal, and has been refining and replicating its intervention methodology, increasingly extending its target audience. After the first phase of development of the project in Portuguese-speaking African countries (Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and St. Tomé and Principe), given its linguistic, cultural, and historical connections with Portugal, the project was extended also to Europe (Spain and Greece), to Latin America (Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela) and other African countries (Senegal, Kenya and South Africa) as well as to Asia (Philippines and Cambodia).
This expansion of the training took place through residential, face-to-face training in partnership with local non-governmental organizations, universities, and tertiary institutions. Despite the varied cultural and institutional contexts of the different countries, the methodology has been consistently successful. The reason for this success can be found from the root of the Ubuntu concept, which means 'I am because you are, I can only be a person through other people', is deeply humanistic, being free from any political and religious affiliation, it has found receptivity and development in these various countries.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ubuntu training was adapted for delivery through current digital communication tools. The result of the digital editions of the Ubuntu training exponentially increased its reach to youth leaders from more than 190 countries, around the world through innovative approaches such as the Ubuntu United Nations Initiative. The training has had an equally enthusiastic reception and positive socio-emotional transformational impact. The project has already reached more than 9,500 young people and has already trained more than 1800 trainers, who in turn replicate the method in their respective contexts. The Ubuntu methodology is currently available in five languages (Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, and Arabic).
The Ubuntu project which is marked by an experiential and relational dimension is inspired by world-renowned servant leaders (such as Mandela or Luther King) as well as local community leaders. The project has three main lines of intervention:
1) Ubuntu Leaders Academy - Training of Trainers. This is an intensive face-to-face training model, aimed at young people and educators, who have the potential to replicate the methodology. There is a trainer's manual and several pedagogical resources that support the training. The training lasts for 6 months;
2) Ubuntu Leaders Academy - Schools. This is also a face-to-face intervention model. It reaches children from the 1st years of Basic Education and their educators, as well as young people aged between 13 and 18 years and their educators (teachers, school staff, psychologists). The training involves a Training of Trainers, an Ubuntu Week (training activity with children and young people), based on the Ubuntu methodology, and an Ubuntu Club (which gives sustainability and continuity to the project at the school);
3) Ubuntu Leaders Digital Academy. This is a Digital training model, based on the Ubuntu methodology of five seminars, focusing on the development of socio-emotional skills. It reaches a greater number of people. It lasts for 5 weekends;
The three intervention formats have the support of very important partners, such as the Portuguese Ministry of Education, international agencies (such as the OEI - Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science, and Culture), and private funders both national and international.
The Ubuntu Leaders Academy project is the result of experience, a sense of urgency on the need for servant leadership in the communities in which we are integrated. However, we realized that to adequately respond to the challenge of restoring human dignity, it was a complex and multilevel, and multidisciplinary process that required that we understood that possible solutions required systemic, horizontal, and active participation projects.
Research and theoretical consolidation were highlighted early on in the Ubuntu project, as a way of studying and validating the designed methodology. The Scientific Council of the Ubuntu project, which includes more than twenty researchers and university professors, sought to test the assumptions of conceptual and methodological reinforcement; of the socio-educational innovation of the Ubuntu methodology, against the emerging social paradigms in vulnerable communities. The Council continues to play a critical role in the impact assessment of the project
The positive impact of experimenting with the project is highlighted, not only in the national context but also in other countries. Despite the application in different countries, with very different traditions, histories, and social interactions, the Ubuntu concept has been very well received and appropriated, as mentioned above.
Finally, it is also important to emphasize the horizontality, complexity, and transdisciplinary of the Ubuntu concept. It is not a closed and limited concept, which integrates itself in three very important foundations: servant leadership, building bridges, and the ethics of care. In addition to these, it is a humanist reference, which seeks to respect the individual as a personal being, promote diversity in the community as a wealth of development, raise awareness of the ethics of care and the potential for a culture and education of peace.
In the Ubuntu project, the impact assessment is robust and has helped build an important impact narrative regarding the project's development.
From the data analysis, it is possible to notice increases in self-confidence, personal and professional development, self-esteem and self-knowledge through participation in the Ubuntu Leaders Academy project. These increments, which explain an evolution between the initial and final perceptions regarding these indicators, are particularly relevant when they are read from the specific development of the project's core competencies/pillars - self-knowledge, self-confidence, resilience, empathy, and service.
Equally, significant progress has been observed within the scope of the project intervention in schools. In a simplified assessment scale, that is based on a grouping of 11 questions, and in a population of 1300 students that were reached in the last school year, very significant increases are noted not only in the pillars mentioned above. For example, on questions relating to 'I know myself well'; 'I believe in my talents and qualities'; 'I see difficulties as opportunities for growth and 'I look to the future with hope', of around 20% to 30% increases were noted.
In short, within the scope of the various formats of intervention in the Ubuntu projects, the aim has been, above all, to seek and know the results in the real life of people and organizations involved with the project. Measuring the impact of the Ubuntu training on its participants is essential and constitutes a mandatory component in all editions making it possible, on the one hand, to understand what transformations were experienced by the participants throughout their training experience and, on the other hand, establishing an empirical basis for continuous improvement of the project, in all its dimensions.