Educational programs to transform young lives

In honor of International Youth Day (August 12th), is profiling a series of initiatives that work to transform the lives of youth through education, mentorship, and skills training. International Youth Day was established by the United Nations in 2000 as a means of raising awareness of issues affecting young people around the world. The following articles describe how a caring mentor, a specialized school, or a skills training program can empower youth to transform their lives.

Read on to see examples from Lagos, Jakarta, Bangalore, and Rio de Janeiro, and then join the discussion below.

Rio de Janeiro
Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi

Encouraging productive, empowered, and employed youth through alternative education

Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi, Lagos Community Manager


Education is crucial for a bright future, but Nigeria's 2012 unemployment rate was 23.9 percent. The nation's youth, both educated and uneducated, bears the brunt of this unemployment. The problem rises not only from lack of employment opportunities, but from lack of employable skills. Lagos has a large population but has managed to have the lowest level of unemployment amongst the nations' 36 states: 7.6 percent. The city has been able to attain this rate due to a number reasons: some might attribute it to the wealth of companies and industries, which is plausible. However, the contributions of the government and civil society organisations that encourage youth entrepreneurship, job placements, skills acquisition, and education schemes are an important piece of the puzzle.

The city of Lagos is filled with organisations and efforts by the state government to ensure youth education and skills acquisition. One such organisation, the Youth Empowerment and ICT Foundation, affords youths the opportunity to improve their skills and employment potential through education on information technology. The organisation focuses on improving socio-economic conditions of youth by encouraging them to embrace information and communication technology skills, as it is a growing and lucrative field in the country. Their programs allow youths to engage in educational conferences, seminars, and workshops for ICT. A notable program run by the foundation is the Urban Youth Empowerment Program, which targets unemployed youths (18 to 24 years old) who are considered high risk. The program is designed to supports participants through challenges and prepare them for productive careers. Elements of the program include counselling, community service requirements in various organisations, educational upgrades, occupational skills training, and employment placement schemes.

The Lagos state government makes continuous efforts to engage youth and works to create avenues employment. The Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Social Development partners with other ministries, like the Ministry of Agriculture, which creates agricultural schemes and education programs to encourage self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector. The Ministry also runs programs that centre on school-based initiatives that help young people discover and develop their innate skills for entrepreneurship.

While unemployment rates in the country are rising, programs such as these are fighting to keep the numbers low and to provide productive outlets for young people. Lagos has taken a step in the right direction, the hope is that they continue, ensuring that the programs are sustainable, effectively run, and that they integrate with city's youth.



Carlin, the mentoring program you describe seems to be an interesting initiative to support vulnerable youngsters in receiving guidance on work perspectives and also in helping them to build greater confidence. I wonder how the program is implemented, meaning how many people work at it, what is the time commitment of mentors and more importantly, which are the possibilities to scale up this initiative in more neighborhoods within the city.

Carlin Carr's picture

Catalina, what I love about this program is that in an age of so many technological solutions to everything, the idea of mentoring is so old-fashioned and simple yet exactly what these children need. I see it in the work I do with street children who live in an emergency shelter: they are often just looking for someone to talk with or get help help with their homework. Yet, when it comes time to leave these homes, the kids often have little idea of what is out there for them or how to tackle it. The mentoring program featured in the Bangalore section this week is more than simple recruiting mentors and mentees and setting them up. The program requires training for the mentors and a one-year time commitment. After all, consistency is really important for kids who have little of it in their lives. Mentor Together has set up a specific curriculum that the mentee and mentor work through together over time both in person and online; however, they pair is required to meet at least twice per month. Mentor Together also provides separate support to the mentees in academic and career tutoring and training. Since the program does have a formal approach to mentoring, it has been easier to replicate in the region. It now runs in both Bangalore and a neighboring city of Mysore.

Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi's picture

I agree something as old fashioned as mentoring programs are still around because it is simple and effective. It would be interesting to see how this would be integrated into skills training programs and other youth empowerment programs. An approach that not only covers skills and knowledge acquisition but something to guide the application of those skills by experienced individuals in the field.

widya anggraini's picture

I agree that education is vital for the youth,not only for individual benefit but also for a country overall. Empowering the youth means an investment for a country to develop better in the future. I learned a lot for the articles this week on methods and programs that try to equip the youth with life skills and how to integrate the youth within development of a city. My interest lies in the case of Lagos with high unemployment and with the government who tried to encourage youth entrepreneurship. Can i ask if along with the program there is also another program that try to provide these youth with easy access to capital so as they can get some money to start a business or maybe another program to follow up this program?

I also interested in Mentor Program and i have same curiosity as Catalina mentioned and maybe more questions on what is the main challenge in implementing this program as i wondering if similar program is replicated indifferent country with different situation, will it be still working.

widya anggraini

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