The Youth As Researchers (YAR) global initiative on COVID-19 connects and engages with young people to conduct research on the impacts of COVID-19 on young people and the responses young people have implemented to tackle these. UNESCO and the UNESCO Chairs at the National University of Ireland Galway and Penn State University lead a consortium of youth-led or youth-related actors to support the research through training, mentoring and coordination.
The idea for Youth as Researchers (YAR) first evolved from work being done on empathy in education, through the realization that researchers who can connect with their research topic can bring an added dimension and value to conducting research. When looking at research topics that affect young people, young researchers are well-placed to make this connection and gain an insightful understanding of young people’s experiences and actions.
The program has been designed to give young people the skills they need to conduct credible research based on sound methods and ethical practices. YAR supports young people through training, mentoring and giving advice during the research process to empower them to choose the research topics they want to investigate, design the research and then collect and analyze data. The researchers then use their research to deliver key messages.
Young people aged 18-35 have formed research teams that answer these and other questions. This research is designed by young people, conducted by young people and about young people. The youth researchers will collaborate with a group of like-minded young people, receive training and be supported by a team coordinator to assist with the research.
Five themes define the overall scope of investigations:
- use of technology,
- human rights and
- youth taking action.
A global survey was conducted to determine, within this context, the key issues of concern for young people. Each research team have utilized this information to select their topic, and from there design their research.