Mindanao Young Leaders Programme


The Mindanao Young Leaders Programme (MinYLP) is for emerging young leaders from civil society organisations in Mindanao, The Philippines. Each year, 8 participants are selected to spend four months in New Zealand learning about community organising, effective governance, gender justice, labour rights, conflict resolution, sustainable economic development, environmental management, social enterprise, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and indigenous approaches to development.

The programme aims to enhance the knowledge, skills, and confidence of young these leaders so they can contribute to the sustainable and peaceful development of their communities and Mindanao.

MinYLP is managed and run by UnionAID in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington and International Alert (an international peace-building organisation operating in Mindanao), and funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of its Aid Programme in the Philippines. The programme was developed with local advice on the particular needs of Mindanao. 

The MinYLP exposes participants to new ideas and institutions in Aotearoa/New Zealand, giving them the opportunity to think critically about how to adapt and apply this knowledge in their own context.  The programme builds the young leaders’ research, evaluation, presentation and communication skills. Participants work together across ethnic, religious and gender lines to build unity and understanding – with each other, course leaders and presenters, community mentors, host families and UnionAID volunteers.

Participants take part in an intensive English language programme, complete a sustainable development course, and research and prepare a proposal for an action project to be undertaken in their community on their return home.  At the end of the MinYLP, participants join an alumni network that provides ongoing support, learning and connections to New Zealand.

Programme Content

The four-month programme in New Zealand is delivered by UnionAID, in partnership with Victoria University of Wellington. The programme incorporates a range of different learning methods including in-class teaching, workshops, and educational visits. Representatives from local and central government, academia, NGOs, and iwi contribute to MinYLP. The programme includes:

  • A 1-week foundation workshop in Davao City, led by International Alert, covering the history of Mindanao, political systems, social movements and conflict analysis
  • A 1-week orientation programme on arrival in New Zealand
  • A 3-week intensive English language course run by Victoria University of Wellington
  • A twelve-week Sustainable Development course covering:
    • Democratic processes, including national and local government, elections, rule of law, human rights, labour rights, effective governance, and civic action.
    • Approaches to conflict resolution and restorative justice
    • Special interest topic research supported by an individual mentor, with visits to relevant organisations and subject experts.
    • Research skills, project proposal development, the project cycle and evaluation.
    • Practical workshops on organisational development, project management as well as communication, facilitation, and leadership skills.
  • The opportunity to explore an individual special interest topic with access to a personal mentor and visits to organisations and experts 
  • The opportunity to develop and implement an action project
  • An annual alumni workshop in Mindanao run by International Alert to exchange knowledge and build networks with groups from other years of MinYLP.

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Who can apply for the MinYLP Programme?

Applicants must

  • be aged between 23 and 30
  • be working for a community-based organisation (community self-help group, cooperative, student group or other advocacy group), NGO, women’s organisation, trade union, or similar organisation in Mindanao.
  • have an intention to return to work for their organisation for a minimum of a year on completion of the programme
  • have English language proficiency, with ≥5.5 IELTS (or TOEFL 46-59) being used as a guide. This level is necessary to ensure that the participants will get value from the programme, particularly the Sustainable Development Course.
    Note: you are not required to take an IELTS test, but an English language test will be administered at the interview stage.
  • hold a passport issued by the Government of the Philippines valid for 6 months beyond the return date.

Our Alumni