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Top calls for transformation: access to education and accountable leadership

by Futures Centre, Jul 30
4 minutes read

In last week’s poll, we asked our followers which social structures need to change to support their community visions. Education ranked as most in need of change, with related comments emphasising sustainability and equality: education to help people “know how to live and let live in our one common and interdependent planet”, and quality education “whether they can pay or not”. 

Political systems were ranked second highest, with calls for “definition and implementation of democracy as a universal good”, for “more accessible democracy”, and for “institutional racism to be sought out and addressed”. 

Also last week, we gathered comments from 97 YMCA members across 40 countries in response to the questions we’ve been asking on social media throughout July. Here are some of the top insights, with access to education and accountability featuring very strongly here too.  

Education was again seen as a key way to shape the communities of the future, with a view to educating citizens in their rights, obligations and responsibilities. Respondents said they faced an uncertain future, and recognised the need to transform social norms, mindsets, government structures and economic engines. They called for leaders not just to listen, but to hear, and to face the facts. 

Accountability featured in response to several questions, with trust in today’s powers and institutions clearly very low. Criticisms directed at those in power included: their disconnect from the people they represent; their interest in self-promotion and accruing power rather than in the common good; their misrepresentation and willful ignorance of the facts; and the slow pace of action where urgency is required. There was widespread support for devolved decision-making, greater representation and active citizenship, but with caution against populism and absolutism. 

We asked what can enable active citizenship. Suggestions included support to put ideas into practice, as well as for mentorship to advocate and develop their ideas, in particular training in critical thinking, public-speaking skills and platforms for effective communication. 

Social media was seen as the top technology for shaping future communities, not only through spreading information but also educating people and supporting livelihoods. Access to internet, computers and smartphones came next. This was in contrast to our poll, where renewables featured most highly. However, solar power was mentioned alongside internet access, possibly as a way to enable this.

Community-led partnerships featured as a way to bring together groups with common goals and complementary resources. Shared values and a common sense of belonging or identity were also seen as important. Faith was appreciated as a way to build social connection, and a sense of belonging and identity. There was also support for diversity of faiths, and concern that religions should bring people together, rather than divide them.

The YMCA was named most frequently among organizations that can shape future communities, alongside calls for unnamed organizations supporting human and minority rights, mental health and sustainability – including the Paris Agreement.

These themes that recurred across the responses give a sense of a shared future vision, featuring:

  • Equality and respect for all
  • Citizens contributing to the common good 
  • Free and equitable access to education 
  • Transparency on rights, responsibility and accountability 
  • Sustainability through practical actions  
  • Peace, justice and welfare 
  • Citizen empowerment through decision-making 

How does this list sound to you? What else would feature in your vision?

This week, we’re asking: What motivates you to be active in your community? Take part in our poll and help us find out what drives changemakers.   

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #youthforchange and #ymca2044. 


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