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[Épinglé] February 2023 Anglophone Topic of the Month: Working for Museums and Taking Initiatives for Museum Development

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Nmbure
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Arts and culture are the way we tell our stories as a society. They’re how we talk about what is important to us, how we view the world, and how we make sense of complicated issues. A visit to any museum is enough to remind us that, long after our civilization has passed, what survives of us are our arts and culture. The exclusion of groups of people from this field is therefore not just a problem for us now, but a persistent and enduring injustice that will echo down the ages. What people know of us in centuries to come, will be dictated by who is telling our story now.

Unfortunately, especially in Africa, these benefits of the arts are often not enjoyed by minority groups, in particular young people, people from poorer backgrounds or people who don’t have higher-level qualifications.

On a continent where more than 65% of the inhabitants are aged below 30 and where young people represent 60% of the unemployed, it’s only right that they should be both a target audience for arts engagement efforts and active players in museum institutions, to encourage a lifelong preservation of our heritage for future generations to come

This leaves a gap for youth employment in museum institutions, as we believe the youth are best placed to contribute to designing the future African ideal museum which would save other young people from missing out on enjoying arts and cuture, ensure they enjoy the benefits of improved confidence and education, and empower them to tell their stories for us all to hear. They need opportunities but also they have to take initiatives of large-scale and visibility actions for Africa Museums development.

Week 1

How can young people be involved in the management of Museums? What can be their inputs and also initiative for Museums in Africa ( please share your experiences about projects you are or have been involved in)

 

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Tsholo Kenathetswe
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Hello everyone and thanks for the topic.......Young people can be involved in the management of museums through creation of youth advisory groups with its membership including youth out of school and work. I believe the said advisory groups can allow to understand the service usage and satisfaction of the young people visiting the museums.

And like it has been mentioned of the capability young people have to design an ideal future African museum, i must say that their active involvement through the advisory groups can help boost their confidence in becoming part of the management of museum institutions and inform future developments and improvement of services in our museums. They can also leverage on attracting youth populations to museum centres.

Young people  as the future museum visitors, they need to be inlcuded in management of museums so that they help to re-design programmes that will continously attract other young people to the museum centres. For instance, museum centres should not just be about appreciation of collections but they should also serve as places of social interaction.

Involving young people in the management of museums, should also start with engaging local young people in the communities with museums. This will help improve on the valueing of resources/collections housed in the museum centres. 

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Zuhura
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@tsholo I agree with you, and I think if the young people in the community are actively involved, it will help a lot in valuing and increasing the determination of the young people to participate in museum activities. Hence they will enjoy the benefits and being exposed to challenges and opportunities that African museums have and find a solution.

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Tsholo Kenathetswe
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@zuhura, Exactly, as youth inclusion in management processes will mean preparing them for future leadership amd management roles in museums, as they will be able to apply the experience and skills they have been equiped with towards development and growth of museum institutions.

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Thank you for posting this great question, which is becoming more and more relevant almost every day, especially given the fact that despite the demographic ratios in Africa between the youth and the old generation, the change and revolution have of late been synonymously related to the younger generation. The question now we may ask ourselves is how we understand the fact that Africa is the youngest continent but is always following behind whenever issues of development and innovation are concerned. The biggest issue is that has to spearhead intergenerational dialogues and remove the gaps between the younger and the older generation. This is a matter to be addressed given the fact that, it is a well-known fact that the African youth's mindset is one the richest mindest globally but then the question of where are we going wrong? is rooted in the existence of intergenerational gaps which hinders the growth of youthful ideas. The conclusion is therefore that youth should start by being instrumental in closing the existing gaps which are limiting the flow and cross-pollination of ideas between two different generations vital for development in African museums. 

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Tsholo Kenathetswe
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@tatenda
I agree with you on inclusion of young people in management as instrumental in closing the existing gaps which are limiting the flow of ideas between generations, as this will mean inclusive growth and sustainable development in accordance with UN SDGs. Thus one way to involve young people in the management of museums will be through strengthening the capacity of local youth organizations to better serve the young people in their communities. Our African young people need to be inspired and well equipped in order to commit to management roles. The young people as future leaders will be able to support initiatives in the context of local knowledge and be able to respond to future challenges with a combination of management experience and innovation.

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Zuhura
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@Tatenda @tsholo, I agree with both of you.

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Zuhura
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Hello everyone. Thank you for bringing in this excellent discussion. As a bank of memories, museums are essential in preserving our history because they are part of our culture. They are a great way to engage young people and nurture their interest in history. 

Young people can be involved in managing the museum by formulating different programmes that will make them feel their part of it. For example, in Tanzania, we have a program known as MUSEUM HUB that unites university students and brings them closer to their museums. This program aims to build a lifelong relationship between museums and young people. Through this program, young people could engage in various museum management discussions in a language that youth could understand. So, through this, young people end up participating in creating a museum environment that appeals to them. This can include interactive exhibits, actualistic studies and opportunities to learn about different topics. 

I have been involved in various projects through this programme, which was very interesting. I used to organize different programes, including the Dar City Tour and Museums Art Explosion in collaboration with the National Museum of Tanzania, where youth from the university of Dar es Salaam where visiting museums and historical sites that are found in dar es Salaam city and every end on the month on Friday they also meet for cultural entertainment. Through all its programmes, young people could learn about their history and chat with museum professionals presenting their views concerning museum activities that, in one way or another, help African design museums and empower them to tell their stories for us all to hear.

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Tsholo Kenathetswe
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Thank you @zuhura for sharing, it is a great initiative i must say as it shows to be bearing fruits, well done Tanzania for an empowering programme capable of making services more accessible and effective for all whilst enabling young people to develop their voice, influence and place in society, to reach their full potential.

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Nmbure
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Week 2 discussion

What are the career opportunities available for the youth at African Museums ? Tell us about some new skills needed to help efficiently develop museums.

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Tsholo Kenathetswe
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@nmbure 

Greetings all....although i have not worked in a museum before but through visits experience,  i think there are possible and emerging opportunities for youth in our African museums. To start with, i believe that as African museums continue to grow and develop, they need not to forget to also tap on the high-potential of our diverse African youth, to provide them with transformative experience that provides them with the tools and support they need as future museum managers and leaders. It is important for youth to acquire transferable skills for employment in museums, hence the African museums need to become more diverse by creating opportunities for youth from all backgrounds to work in these museums. Therefore our African museums can support youth career opportunities through development of: workforce readiness/mentoring programs and apprenticeship programs.

The introduction of workforce readiness programs will provide youth with work exposure in African museums, gaining hard, industry-specific skills that employers constantly require in museum workforce.

Apprenticeships in African museums can help youth to  acquire work experience along with technical and professional training in order to overcome their lack of work experience in the field of museum.

Regarding new skills needed from youth to work in museums, i think it is important to understand that museums whilst handling heritage resources, they are more dependent on customer interactions either with museum personnel or collections. This means that museums rely on certain skills that our youth needs to acquire and i would like to touch on the 2 which i feel they are amongst most important: global awareness and creativity.

Since we are living in an interconnected world, i would say global awareness skills are vital in taking up a museum role. Museums as hubs of information, they bring different cultures together. So as young people, it is important to develop an understanding of global cultures. This requires an open mind and a positive attitude to overcome cross-cultural differences and be able to develop tolerance and trust of other cultures. This will help to create youth workforce ready to work in a diverse environment like museums.

Museums need to ensure that visitors enjoy the collections and exhibitions. This is where the need for creativity skills gets in. As museum visitors we want inspirations from the collections, the normal being broken and bringing different and unique ways of presenting collections. This calls for youth to be able to solve problems, being more innovative, developing better products and services whilst engaging in a better decision-making towards the future.

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Zuhura
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@tsholo I agree with you and I think apprenticeships and trainships allows young people to undertake vocational courses alongside gaining practical experience in  museum field. This could certainly benefit African museums where young people will be in a position of gaining experiences and contribute to the new ideas toward African museums development.

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Zuhura
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Thanks, @nmbure

I think young people currently are in a position to reflect on where their essential skills are and can identify any gaps they might have. For example, the National Museums of Tanzania (NMT) has launched a programme to motivate the youth at universities and colleges to promote cultural and heritage tourism for youth to grab the industry's available business and job opportunities.
 
Careers day and events can provide valuable experiences for the youth because it's a trendy way to alit'smuseums to talk about their work and career choices in African museums. Through this, young people could be linked up with other key players like local museums to have a presence at careers fairs to promote opportunities that might be available in museums, such as work experience or young volunteering. 
 
Museums tours will also enable youth to try out a task that is part of a museum staff member'sseum stamember'srs will be able to explain what their jobs entail, their career routes and the transferable skills needed to do their jobs. Another way is through youth volunteering programmes. For example, museums have trained young people as tour guides, filmmakers, and event producers to develop oral history and transcription skills. This could also enable young people to gain qualifications. Programmes such as youth forums can also help youth to develop a range of skills and to develop their projects depending on their interests. 
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Zuhura
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Thanks, @nmbure

I think young people currently are in a position to reflect on where their essential skills are and can identify any gaps they might have. For example, the National Museums of Tanzania (NMT) has launched a programme to motivate the youth at universities and colleges to promote cultural and heritage tourism for youth to grab the industry's available business and job opportunities.
 
Careers day and events can provide valuable experiences for the youth because it's a trendy way for museums to discuss their work and career choices in African museums. Through this, young people could be linked up with other key players like local museums to have a presence at careers fairs to promote opportunities that might be available in museums, such as work experience or young volunteering. 
 
Museums tours will also enable youth to try out a task that is part of a museum staff member's will be able to explain what their jobs entail, their career routes and the transferable skills needed to do their jobs. Another way is through youth volunteering programmes. For example, museums have trained young people as tour guides, filmmakers, and event producers to develop oral history and transcription skills. This could also enable young people to gain qualifications. Programmes such as youth forums can also help youth to create a range of skills and to develop their projects depending on their interests. 
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