Empowering the vulnerable youth in Sierra Leone
The first batch of beneficiaries of the Education for Youth Empowerment (EYE) project has completed different skills training in Freetown and Kailahun. Trainees in Freetown received their certificate of merit on Saturday 14 December 2013 at the YWCA hall in Freetown. This historic event coincided with the University of Sierra Leone’s graduation ceremony. This was very significant in that our EYE trainees and their families were just as happy as any of the university graduates and their families were, also implying that our EYE project is bridging the socio-economic gap that exists between ‘the haves’ and ‘the haves not’ in the Sierra Leone society. “I’m happy that I’ve been empowered with the skill I’ve learnt and I believe my life will never be the same again. I’m going to work to become a millionaire and help my people out of Kroobay”, says Samuel Tucker (19), an electrical trainee.
After a successful completion of their various skills trainings, the trainees held proud skill-exhibition in their communities to show out to their people the various skilled they learned and how they have been empowered to make meaningful contributions to the development of their communities. It was so amazing to see that just after nine months, youth who have been idling around their communities now doing electrical installations; preparing all type of dishes; designing fashion clothes, hair dressing; mobile phones repairing; etc.
In 2012, Save the Children in Sierra Leone added a new sub-thematic area within education program- Vocational Education and Skills Development for deprived youths under the Education for Youth Empowerment (EYE) program. The Program was officially launched in February 2013 in five communities. The overall objective is Economic, Social and Political Empowerment of youth.
The program focused on the most vulnerable in society and the potential beneficiaries were selected by community’s leaders. There are teenage mothers, youths who never attended school due to the war or who have dropped out of basic education. Participants are between 15 to 25 years.
Under the Economic Empowerment, 120 youth (20 each from the three communities in Kailahun and 30 each from the two communities in Freetown) benefited from either skills training in formal institutions or through apprenticeships training for nine months. The selected beneficiaries also benefited from adult literacy lessons, enterprise training and logistics support such as startup kits, transport and food allowances to enable them complete their training courses successfully. During the course of the training, the trainees were also linked with potential employers for further apprenticeship training or employment. Save the Children is to ensure that 90% of youth trained are engaged in quality and relevant long-term training with master craftsmen, or shorter practical skill training; 50% being employed in apprenticeship or in active business groups following graduation from the practical skills training.