In Senegal, youth ages 15-24 account for nearly 20% of the country’s 200 million people. In an economy that relies heavily on agriculture, it is vital to train and empower these promising citizens with the essential skills to be active participants in their country’s economic development.
It is in this context that the Feed the Future Senegal Youth in Agriculture (Jeunesse en Agriculture) project seeks to maximize the potential of youth in a way that builds up their skills, knowledge and confidence so that they can contribute to Senegal’s economic growth.
Launched in May 2018, the Feed the Future Senegal Youth in Agriculture project—managed by CIRED and funded by USAID—builds the capacity and supports the institutionalization of sustainable positive youth development (PYD) and vocational training systems that create dynamic and profitable entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for youth, focusing especially on agricultural value chains and markets.
With a focus on the holistic development of youth, the project aims to:
1. Establish and institutionalize a national PYD program, building on the 4-H Senegal Positive Youth Development program started by USAID/Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA)
2. Improve vocational training and business development services by pilot testing innovative approaches to strengthen training institutions’ connections with private sector actors and markets
With the support of the Government of Senegal, the project advances USAID's guiding principles of sustainability and coordination. The national project office is embedded with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and the project is well aligned with the ministry's priorities as well as its partner ministries, especially the Ministry of Vocational Training, Apprenticeship, and Skilled Crafts.
Positive Youth Development
Youth should be viewed as resources—as opposed to threats—with the potential to transform their lives, their communities, and their world.
Positive youth development (PYD) focuses on engaging youth as well as their families, communities and governments so that youth are empowered to reach their full potential. PYD programs help youth gain the skills, knowledge and support they need to function well in their environments such as: leadership, teamwork, self-esteem, critical thinking, problem solving, goal setting, cooperation, empathy and resiliency.
Technical and vocational education and training
In order to fully prepare young people for employment and entrepreneurship, there is a need to address the gap between the skills that employers seek and the skills that young potential workers possess. Technical and vocation education and training (TVET) helps to fill the gap by ensuring that these future employees gain skills that are pertinent, relevant and in-demand by the private sector labor markets.
One of the primary goals of the Youth in Agriculture project is to scale up, improve, and formalize the 4-H Senegal PYD program before transitioning into a functioning and sustainable national Senegalese program.
Originating from the land-grant universities and cooperative extension models in the US, 4-H promotes the active participation of universities and agricultural training centers in developing a new generation of agriculturists. The program links agricultural institutions and their pedagogical expertise with local youth who seek valuable knowledge and experience in agriculture.
4-H Senegal officially began in March 2015 with the creation of three pilot clubs in the Toubacouta region. Since that time, more than 500 youth have enrolled in more than 30 clubs with nearly 100 adult leaders trained.