On the occasion of International Youth Day, August 12, Aide et Action remembers the crucial role of young people in societies. Too often ignored, they are the key for change. It is necessary to understand their difficulties to provide appropriate answers. This is what we have been doing for almost 15 years through our iLEAD program in South Asia, where 230,000 young people have already benefited from our support.
The theme of the 2019 International Youth Day is “Transforming Education” – aiming to highlight efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all young people, including the efforts of young people themselves. According to United Nations statistics, in low-income countries, only 10 per cent have completed upper secondary education and more than 75 per cent of secondary school-aged refugees are out of school.
These numbers remind us that significant transformations are still needed to make education systems more inclusive and accessible. In addition, indigenous youth, youth with disabilities, young women, youth belonging to vulnerable groups, etc. face additional challenges in accessing employment and skills training that respect their diverse needs and abilities, while reflecting their unique realities and identities.
In India, offer adapted support
Faced with this situation, Aide et Action is developing vocational training offers in its countries of intervention, in particular for disadvantaged women and young people who are unemployed. The courses offered must enable these men and women to acquire the basic knowledge, to have the necessary skills for their social and economic integration, to have access to vocational training adapted to the local job market.
This is what we are doing, for example, in South Asia, where we are developing the iLEAD program. It is primarily aimed at young school dropouts aged between 18 and 30 and offers them free 3-month training in about 40 different sectors, as well as support to employment.
“Living in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has been in turmoil for decades, has been detrimental to my education after high school, said 22-year-old Nuzhat Aalam. When all the doors of opportunity and growth seemed closed to me, I was introduced to iLEAD. I enrolled in the three-month fashion technology course, hoping to get a job in the industry. At the end of my training, I opened my own shop in Kanihama (Kashmir Valley). Today, the girls in my area consider me a source of inspiration. “
In Sri Lanka, facilitate the process of reconciliation
Elsewhere, in Sri Lanka, despite efforts made by the government and civil society organizations, communities living in areas affected by the civil war continue to struggle to rebuild. Youth unemployment is becoming a major challenge. Aide et Action’s strategic approach aims to facilitate the process of reconciliation through livelihood development. Our project particularly supports veterans, war widows and displaced persons returning from refugee camps. “After the war, my family came back from India and settled in the eastern district of Trincomalee, where they held various jobs to survive, says Emilda, a war survivor who became an entrepreneur. I wanted to support my family too but I found no opportunity. At that time, I came across iLEAD, which offered free training to people like me. I joined the course of aesthetics. Immediately after the end of the training, I found a beautician job in a local salon. After a few months, I opened my own living room by turning a room in my house into a beauty salon. I earn a monthly income of more than 30 000 LKR (150 €). “
In Bhutan, avoid rural exodus through ecotourism
In 2014, Aide et Action, in partnership with the Bhutan Youth Development Fund, launched the “My Gakidh Village” project to provide livelihoods to village youth and avoid rural exodus. The promotion of ecotourism and related craft activities are then developed. The project, implemented in the district of Punakha, is intended to strengthen the professional skills of young people, in line with the local labor market. As the dropout rate is high in this region, young people are generally very poorly qualified and quickly marginalized. Especially since more than half of the country’s population is under 25 years old. The stake is therefore very strong.
The iLEAD initiative, developed in 44 centers in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, has trained more than 230,000 young people, 43% of whom are women, and 73% are professionally inserted. Nearly 5,600 young people are self-employed and offer employment opportunities to many other young people.