NUIG professor chosen to lead global Unesco Covid study

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James Ward, PA

A Professor from NUI Galway (NUIG) has been chosen to lead a worldwide study by Unesco on the impact of Covid-19 on young people’s lives.

More than 100 countries have already signed up to the international project led by Professor Pat Dolan, Unesco chair and director of the Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUIG.

Professor Dolan said he hopes the study will challenge the perception that young people have been irresponsible in their response to the pandemic.

 

He said: “Over the course of the pandemic the worst assumptions have been made about young people in our society.

“On too many occasions, people in authority have been too quick to claim young people are irresponsible and lack consideration for society.

“This is an opportunity for young people to research topics that interest them when adult researchers seem to care the least.”

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Professor Dolan said the study will see young people consulting their peers to devise solutions to the wider impact of the pandemic.

He said: “The objective is for young people to work with other young people to find out how the pandemic has affected them personally, in their families and communities and lives.

“We want to explore how they have coped – what they see as the key challenges to their education and social relationships.”

He added: “We know some of the problems. We know people are affected differently, across classes and cultures.

“We need young people to help us understand that and help us with the solutions.

“And by using the Youth as Researcher initiative we can do that and produce results that are usable, rather than research that no one reads, most of all young people.”

The Youth As Researchers global initiative on Covid-19 is the single biggest study on the impact of the pandemic on young people.

It will focus on wellbeing, education and learning, use of technology, human rights and youth taking action.

Actor Cillian Murphy, patron of the Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUIG, is supporting the project and will take part in the online launch on December 4th.

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The study is being conducted by researchers aged 18-35 with participants aged from 15-35 by using questionnaires, surveys, workshops and focus groups and other methods.

The study will result in will produce social media content which can be easily shared among young people and policymakers.

Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy is supporting the project (Ian West/PA)

Two NUIG undergraduates, John Gaffey and Ella Anderson, are trained as Youth as Researchers, including on issues such as ethics in research, non-bias questionnaire design, sampling methods. They will work on the European end of the project.

Ms Anderson, European Steering Committee representative, said: “Young people across the globe conducting research with fellow young people allows their authentic voice to be heard.”

Mr Gaffey, European team co-ordinator, said: “It’s up to youth to prove to the world that we can take action to better our communities, proving everyone who doubts us wrong.”

Unesco appointed Professor Dolan co-principal investigator along with Professor Mark Brennan, fellow Unesco Chair at Pennsylvania State University.

They will lead a consortium of youth-led researchers through training, mentoring, and coordination.

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