Africa's youth population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. Of Africa's nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment..." (African Development Bank, 2016). According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda's youth population (18 - 30) is about 8.98 million and youth unemployment rate in 2016/2017 was 13% . As a result of this, desperation and destitution are driving youth to crime, drugs, and militias that fuel the increasing vicious spiral of violence and instability in many African countries.
It is not lack of opportunity, or just lack of jobs (though also recognised as a major challenge), but blindness to opportunity, a focus on white collar jobs produced by the education systems, and near absence of high level competence in artisan work.
The Rotary Vijana Poa ("Youth are Cool") programme was piloted throughout Rotary District 9211 during 2016/17 as an initiative where 47 Clubs initiated projects and internships to create employment, investing over $100,000 to train the youth and fund their enterprises: 2,934 youth were trained; 1,119 common sense enterprises started; 141 internships offered; and 1,817 youths are now making a living, most of them self-employed . The Key Intervention Objectives include:
• For non-educated youth and those who drop out of school for various reasons: to generate "common sense" enterprises in communities and in the real world where their skills will be honed by situations that cannot be replicated in a sterile educational environment.
• For graduates that are hard to employ: to provide school-to-work transition starting with mind-set change, re-skilling as needed, and re-focusing to "common sense" enterprises, and/or work-based programs (internship and apprenticeship placements).
It is on this background that the SORVP will is being developed as a Regional Centre of Excellence with sustainable relevance to society, being both an operational and conceptual base, for:
i. Refocusing and skilling youth to be economically productive and socially conscious;
ii. Promoting and guiding multiple small-scale community-based Rotary Club-nurtured interventions planted around the continent;
iii. Compiling and sharing best practices in addressing the challenge of youth unemployment;
iv. Generating best practices that African governments can use to make curricula more effective in creating work-ready youth at any stage of exiting the formal education.
In this phase, the first skilling centre, carpentry skills and entrepreneurship development as well as a water system will be implemented: the carpentry workshop will be constructed using funds raised locally by the Rotary Club of Kampala North, and global grant funding will be used for equipping the workshop and installation of water supply system (extraction, transmission, and storage.
The tentative timelines for the project are from 10th 0ctober 2020 to 31st May 2021.