Education and Poverty
More than half of the population of Africa is under 25 years of age, and many youth, particularly girls, have not been able to complete their education.
Empowerment is about enabling youth to realize their rights and become change agents in their own communities. The Youth Economic Empowerment project increases economic opportunities for poor youth through financial literacy and skills training, as well as improving access to financial services.
Globalization, climate change, urbanization and migration, and civil conflicts and economic crises have changed the face of poverty in Africa. Most of Africa’s youth are illiterate and are unemployed, most with no job skills. The formal job market in Africa is limited, leaving low-paying and dangerous work for youth. Girls in particular aren’t completing primary education and often find themselves vulnerable to sexual abuse after finding work in bars or as domestic servants.
Plan’s Youth Economic Empowerment Project helps African youth realize their rights. Each youth participated in a crash course in joining the work force and received tools to start their careers. Basic literacy and numeric skills development, financial literacy, ICT training, gender equality, human and child rights, health and sexual education, critical and creative thinking skills, and life-long learning skills become part of these youth’s tool boxes as they navigate life at work.
Youth Savings and Loans Associations, made up of 15-20 youth members each, serve as local banks for young people unable to access financial services. Each member’s small weekly contribution soon adds up into a large fund that can be used to give loans to different members each week. The youth involved take these loans and transform them into small businesses. Once they are paid back, the loan can be given to another member of the group.
Much more than just a job, these businesses are lifelines that help youth break the cycle of poverty.
The big picture:
This project supports children’s rights laid out in The Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Each person must recognize the right of the child to education [that develops] the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities.
It also tackles two of the Millennium Development Goals.
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty – reduce the proportion of people whose income is less than a dollar a day.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education – make sure every child graduates from primary school.