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Condition of Youth, Especially With Regards To Empowerment and Employment

Condition of Youth, Especially With Regards To Empowerment and Employment

This paper is intended to discuss the condition of young people in Liberia with regards to empowerment and employment, something which I think is more than ever before, a national imperative and needs concerted, coordinated, and sustained efforts by all actors

. In this paper, I focus on a few things: 1) discuss the issues regarding empowerment and employment of young people both as an insider and an outsider.

As an Insider, during my previous jobs with the Youth and Young Adult Department of Liberia Annual Conference United Methodist Church from 1996 – 2000, the United Nations Mission in Liberia from 2004 – 2008 and the Liberia Peacebuilding Office (PBO) from 2009 – March 2016, I researched on various issues affecting young people ranging from rehabilitation to reintegration, empowerment and employment to job creation and placement.

I have also contributed to several policy related documents including the UN Common County Assessment of June 2006, the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy of Liberia of July 2007, the Poverty Reduction Strategy of 2008, the Liberia Peacebuilding Program of May 2011, the Strategic Roadmap for National Healing Peacebuilding and Reconciliation of December 2012, and the Government of Liberia Medium Term Economic Growth and Development Strategy (commonly referred to as the Agenda for Transformation) of December 2012, to name a few, which not only highlighted these issues but also provided priority interventions to help address them.

As an Outsider, despite helping to inform policies and suggested practical actions that would address these issues over time, I watched the implementation from afar.

Today as a Human Rights Commissioner, I focus on youth and human rights issues; 2) describe and discuss succinctly some of the key interventions undertaken by the GoL and her partners including INGOs and CSOs; and 3) discuss why the problems of youth employment and empowerment still exist despite all of the efforts over the last 12 years to help to address them; 4) put forth what I think is a renewed call for an affirmative action to address these issues once and for all – and elucidate why this renewed call is indispensable; and 5) conclude this paper by providing concrete and practical actions that are needed, or to further strengthen and enhance ongoing efforts to ensure the majority of young people in Liberia are empowered, gainfully employed and equally contributing to lasting peace and national development. 

Finally, this paper is a way of beginning to contribute to the programs of the new GoL in its quest to improve the lives of all Liberians, especially the young people. 

Issues regarding young people 

The Liberian conflict resulted in a near-total disruption of education and skills training for the Liberian youth. With an overwhelmingly young population, the lack of employment opportunities for young people, many of whom have had some forms of military training and experience as a consequence of the war, is a major source of social instability, and this has remained a major potential driver of conflict.

This problem is compounded or related to youth’s empowerment and employment where the vast majority of young people who lived through the war were deprived of opportunities to education and social skills critical to lead productive lives.

As highlighted in the National Youth Policy for Liberia, and recently the National Youth Manifesto, current levels of youth poverty, unemployment and marginalization and exclusion from national decision making and development processes stem from the protracted armed conflict the country experienced, though other disparities were present long before that. 

The multiplier effects of these phenomena are exemplified by poverty-intensifying dynamics such as an increasingly frustrated and militarized youth population becoming engaged in “negative employment” - quasi-professional entrepreneurship of violence and other criminal activities. 

The gender dimension of “negative employment” is also evident in the increasing recourse to prostitution by young girls as an economic activity/occupation, with the attendant consequences of unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. 

The high level of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) that continues unabated to perpetuate against children, youth (especially girls) and women is a continuing aspect of the culture of impunity and the intolerable status quo that denigrates and subjugates against them. Some of these vices and their accompanied domestic and other violence against women and girls have in worst case placed and kept them in their manumission or lowest ebb. 

Since 2006, issues regarding young people especially with respect to employment and empowerment have been highlighted in several key policy related documents as well as conflict mapping reports as a key conflict factor or driver, but also in the positive reverse, a potential for peace and stability.

In 2012 and 2014, the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, where I previously served as Executive Director, undertook comprehensive desk reviews of at least sixteen (16) key policy papers and conflict mapping exercise reports.[1]

The desk reviews deduced from these reports the need for relevant policy efforts that will create livelihood and educational opportunities for the youth, and promote development that is pro-poor and participatory. Such initiatives should also seek to address intergenerational issues, particularly those to do with land tenure and political participation. 

Some concrete efforts of the Government 

Beginning 2006 hitherto, the GoL and her partners have undertaken several programs and projects in order to help address the issues described above. In 2015, another desk-review and synopsis conducted by the Liberia Peacebuilding Office at the Ministry of internal Affairs (MIA) showed a little over eighty-five (85) programs/projects or interventions that have been implemented intended to help address the issue of youth employment and empowerment from 2006 to 2015.

Most of interventions have been ably led or coordinated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports with funding and support from key partners including: USAID, ILO, World Bank, AusAid, UNPBF, UNDP, UNICEF, UNSECO, UNFPA, UNWOMEN with several INGOs, CSOs also participating.

There has also been direct budgetary allocation from the government to support some of these interventions. The PBO’s desk-review of these interventions built on a previous scooping exercise conducted by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in 2012. 

Notable of these interventions is the Joint Program for Employment and Empowerment of Young People in Liberia (JP-YEE) developed in 2008 by the Government and the UN in Liberia.

The JPYEE was built on 2 pillars, viz. the promotion of youth employment, and the empowerment and social cohesion of youth which is a key dimension to the success of youth employment.  The Joint program had five interrelated components that together were intended to make up the holistic approach toward youth employment and empowerment. These included:

  • Youth policy review and institutional support to Government and Civil Society, especially youth-led organizations
  • Skills training for employment
  • Facilitating the transition of young people to employment
  • Empowerment and social cohesion of young people
  • Promoting decent work for youth in the informal economy and in agriculture and through special employment schemes in waste management and construction 

Another is the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program. In 2008, the ILO conducted a Tracer Study of TVET Institutes, and an analysis of Labor Market and Youth Employment in Liberia.

The Tracer Study was requested on the TVET system in Liberia in order to specifically look at skill shortages, the capacity of training supply, labor market policy and vulnerabilities, and vocational and business skills needed for self-employment. 

The study also identified key interventions that could be incorporated to improve youth employment in the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Liberia in 2008.  The methodology of the study involved a desk review of relevant national policies on the National Council for Vocational and Technical Education and Training (NCVTET) and the Agricultural and Industrial Training Bureau (AITB), in addition to administering questionnaire surveys in fifteen counties at training centers. 

Surveys were administered to employers of TVET graduates and TVET graduates to gather information on the employability of youths and its relation to the labor market.  The study also used meetings with key stakeholders and focus group discussion involving TVET trainees/graduates, employers of TVET graduates, relevant government officials and other relevant development partners.  

In addition, in 2009, a TVET scooping exercise was conducted by AFTED. This provided a brief assessment of the key issues, challenges and opportunities for developing the TVET sector.  The note was based on the discussions and field visits during a three-day scooping mission that was carried out by a World Bank team in 2009. The note pointed out that skills play a role both for the State and for the individuals in reducing poverty, increase wealth through better jobs and higher earnings and improve productivity.  It also proposed recommendations on how the TVET Development Fund (TDF) could be used to achieve these goals. 

In addition, from 2008 – 2013, the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) funded the National Youth Service Program, and also supported the rehabilitation, training and reintegration of former combatants who had not gone through the formal DDRR program in 2014, in agriculture and other live skills at the Tumutu Agriculture Training Center in Salala, Bong County.

The Tumutu Agriculture Training Program was remarkable as it not only diversified the life-skills given to a little over 800 young people, but it also provide literacy skills, trauma counselling and healing, job placement, ensured hundreds of youths were reintegrated into their original communities and finally ensured follow-ups with the trainees to see how there were applying their skills. This program was replicated in Sinoe County with funding from the German Government through GAA and implemented by Land Mine Action. 

Further, although I limit this paper to efforts employed by the GoL and her partners to help address issues effecting Liberian youthful population to 2006, it is worth going back a bit to 2004 when there were numerous programs included in the DDRR efforts which started shortly after the peace agreement – with varied results, as well a number of not too distant skills training  program including the “Volunteers for Peace Program” (UNDP), “Small Grants to Support Initiatives for Peace Consolidation in Liberia” (UNHCR), and the “Liberia Youth Volunteer Service Corps” (UNDP).

In 2010, there were plans for World Bank program on youth skill development intended to reach up to 45,000 Liberian youth across the country over three years. At the same time USAID also started a jobs initiative for youth with up to 3,000 apprenticeship training opportunities and jobs. 

In 2011, the Innovations for Poverty Action together with CHF and NEPI conducted a study entitled: “Roots and Remedies: Persistent poverty and violence amongst urban street youth in Liberia.”

The study was designed to disentangle how cash and capital constraints versus dysfunctional preferences and behaviors contributed to the poverty and violence of the young men and women living on Monrovia’s streets, and sought to create an inexpensive and scalable program that will reduce poverty, violence, and social instability among unstable youth.

Also in 2012, the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), under took a study of “At-Risk Males in Post-Conflict Liberia: Piloting New Approaches for Reducing Violence and Poverty among Urban Street Youth.”

This initiative aimed to implement and evaluate an intervention for neglected and at-risk urban street youth in Monrovia, to better understand their conditions and needs, and to use that research to create an inexpensive and scalable program that will reduce poverty, violence and social instability among these youth.

The research furthermore expected to identify the most cost-effective program components and inputs, especially (i) business development grants, (b) skills training and (c) counseling and life skills. Also in 2012, Mercy Corps – Liberia under the program “Promoting Sustainable Partnerships for Economic Transformation (PROSPECTS)” program funded by Chevron and with Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA), engaged over 5,000 youth over 3 years, intended to promote youth employment and employability across a heterogeneous youth population. This built on previous efforts in which started in 2002. In 2015, the Ministry of Youth and Sports started the Liberia Youth Opportunity Program (LYOP).

Through this intervention, the MYS embarked on a youth empowerment initiative to enhance Youth’s livelihoods in Post-Ebola Liberia as the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) receded significantly in Liberia.

The program was initially funded by the World Bank and the GoL was to continue the empowerment (programs to) put to job 25,000 young people across the country with an initial threshold amount of US$15M identified by the World Bank to fund the project, Minister Eugene Nagbe in a MICAT press briefing in 2016 informed that the “will be a sequel to the Liberia Youth Employment Program (LYEP),” implemented by MYS. I could go on and on but these few will suffice. 

However, despite these interventions as well as the many government policies and programs that have focused on the condition of youth, these have frequently seen few results and instead have raised expectations among young people, further contributing to the potential for instability if left unaddressed. 

Why have these interventions not yielded the desired results? 

First, research shows that investing in young people immediately post-conflict is not easy. They are not a homogeneous group at the best of times, but after years of conflict, they are disassociated, scattered, disconnected from social institutions and often from their families. 

Second, the institutions usually given the responsibility of dealing with young people have their mandates fairly narrow or segmented and/or diluted into other issues/institutions.

For example, many countries as in the case of Liberia, bundle youth issues in Ministries of Youth and Sports, which are often the least resourced. Third, when they exist, youth organizations are weak and vulnerable to manipulation. 

Fourth, the international assistance to countries rarely take a comprehensive approach to youth, but rather limited approaches (mostly sectoral) that correspond to their mandates and/or interests.  

While these are some of the reasons and not necessarily unique to Liberia, a critical review of the Liberian situation and context will show that youth programs have not been holistic and comprehensive. Since 2006, most of the interventions have only been short-term.

Most times the focus has been labor intensive work programs targeting vulnerable youths and last between three to six months. Where some forms of training have been provided, the training are often not intensive and there are little or no incentives to both attract young people and keep them in these programs. 

In addition, we have not created a market where most of these young people, after training, can get immediate employment. While much talk has been about forming corporative nothing tangible has been achieved in this regard.

Another compounding problem has been that several of these trainings have been either in areas where there are less demands for jobs, or where the training are inadequate and trainees have no proficiency and experience. Most times, there have been little or no psychosocial support provided alongside training and other interventions. 

Moreover, interventions or programs do not have a well-defined exit and sustainability plan.  Besides, there has also often been inadequate funding allocated from the government though its Fiscal Budget for youth programs – of course I am not ignorant to the competing demands on the government – everything has been a priority given the nation’s emergence from 14 years of devastating civil war. In addition, a careful study of various youth programs shows that most of the beneficiaries of these programs have been young men.

There has not been more targeted outreach which is required, to empower young women – especially wayward young girls (and I use wayward with regrets), to assume their critical role in the country’s peacebuilding and recovery efforts. Projects that placed specific emphasis on skills training and entrepreneurship among female youth, such as those supported by the World Bank and Danish Government need to be up-scaled and replicated.  

Finally, a critical component but often forgotten in most of these programs is that much attention has been placed on providing job skills to youth, but little on the transformation of youths’ attitude around personal responsibility and civic-mindedness especially if stability is to prevail.

These efforts also did not always focus on reducing parochialism based on tribe/sectionalism and internalize a stronger sense of Liberian national identity among the youths. 

Why a call for renewed efforts and focus on youth? 

First, the young people of Liberia are the nation’s greatest development asset. It is through them that nations can change. They learn to do things quickly and are ready to adjust more swiftly than older generations. Thus, they can provide a solid basis for democratic governance and be key participants in a strategy for transforming socio-political systems and building a sustainable democratic society. 

Second, because the youth constitute a large percentage of the human resource of Liberia, estimated to be about 70%, the country cannot experience lasting peace without the popular support and full participation of its youth population, nor can the human and economic conditions improved without the full and effective contribution, creativity and popular enthusiasm of the vast majority of the young people. 

Third, young people in Liberia are a positive conduit of progress and change. They can be critical agents for constructive community recovery and reconciliation, peacebuilding, and development. 

After all, it is the youth that benefits if development must accrue. Therefore, at the heart of Liberia’s peacebuilding and development process and objectives must lay the ultimate and overriding goal of a youth-centered approach. 

Fourth, the Ebola-Virus Disease (EVD) exacerbated this problem but at the same time has called for a rethink of our interventions and priorities as a Country. It is obvious that while we consider post-ebola recovery efforts, and UNMIL transition, youth empowerment and employment are critical for lasting peace and security and must be given adequate attention. 

Fifth, the in-coming government got an overwhelming majority of the votes from the young people across Liberia – the government must not fail to adequately and comprehensively address issues with regards to empowerment and employment for these young people.

Sixth, the majority of young people already has children, or will have children and families. If there young people are not empowered and employed it is obvious that the vast majority of their children who are the future of Liberia will have little or no training and an uncertain future.

The national existence is certainly bleak if the vast majority of its citizens will have little or no capacity or means to contribute to national development – but instead becomes a burden on the society. This is certainly a recipe for a vicious cycle of violence and instability. Remember the old Liberia adage which states “he/she who is down fears no fall.” 

Seventh, addressing issues related to youth empowerment and employment will be meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets that focus of young people while at the same time achieving the United Nations Framework on youth and human rights, thereby making Liberia, a Member State of the United Nations, in compliance with these international goals, targets and frameworks. 

Proposals for a way forward 

To begin with, the rest of this paper has been important, but this section is even more vital and significant.  First, there needs to be a national symposium on youth involving all the relevant stakeholders to review and critique most if not all of the interventions on youth since 2006.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) is best placed to lead this effort with the Ministry Gender Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), the Ministry of Education, the Federation of Liberia Youth (FLY) and other youth organizations including key stakeholders supporting in this regard. 

The MIA in its capacity as the lead Government institution on peacebuilding and reconciliation and the INCHR with its focus on youth and human rights are also very important government actors. Other key institutions include the Governance Commission with its focus on the National Vision – Liberia Rising 2030, which has youth issues cardinal and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, with its focus on development and achieving Liberia’s development agenda are also very central. The National Legislature is also absolutely necessary to the success of any interventions on youth. 

As mentioned above, the desk-reviews conducted highlighted several interventions; but efforts must also be employed to learn from independent evaluations of some of these interventions, if there are a few, so as to see what have been recommended as a way of accelerating some of the already existing programs.

For example in August 2010, when Liberia for formally placed on the Agenda of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), I accompanied a PBC assessment mission in several parts of the country to find out what were the key threats to peace and stability and also what should the key peacebuilding priorities of Liberia to help inform the development of the Statement of Mutual Commitments (SMC) the framework on which Liberia’s engagement with the PBC would be based. 

Second, there needs to be a new focus on youth issues as a matter on national emergency.  In this regard, a comprehensive, adequately resourced approach is essential. 

Third, learning from the Ebola-pandemic, we need to re-prioritize or rethink our interventions, programs and strategies. For example, there needs to be linkages and integration between decentralization and peacebuilding efforts with youth related programs which could help address youth employment and empowerment thereby leading to sustainable peace, reconciliation and development. While previous youth programs have considered the gender dimension – much remains to be desired.

There’s also a need for much more focused actions and inclusion of young people living with disabilities. We need more targeted support to youths in the areas of training and job creation – the agriculture sector could be a positive venture when given additional support and incentives that will attract young people in this area. This support is also linked to addressing the issues of poverty and food insecurity. 

The issues in this paper and possible solutions suggested are all not new – but this paper seeks to bring some of these issues back on the table given now that the Government under the leadership of H.E. President George M. Weah, and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor was inaugurated on January 22, 2018, and given the vast majority of young people overwhelmingly voted for the new government. 

Further, in August 2013, the Peacebuilding Office with support from the CDA Collaborative Learning Projects based in Cambridge, MA, USA conducted a workshop to see how conflict issues have the ability and most times operate as a system – re-enforcing each other. Several institutions participated and a deliberate decision was made to use the issue of reintegration of high-risks youths in the conflict analysis workshop.  

The workshop deciphered some of the positive forces that are contributing towards re-integration of high-risks youths as well as pointed out barriers/challenges to this effort. Below are the results of this analysis with suggestions to work with high-risks youth just as one example of how analysis could or must be done when considering interventions. The analysis is shown in three diagrams.

The first diagram describes the issue (reintegration) and looks at ‘negative forces’ working against reintegration, while the second depicts how the issues identified in the first diagram the negative forces could operate as a system of intervening loops reinforcing each other and undermining efforts to achieve reintegration.

This diagram is done using Micro-Soft Visio application software. The third diagram takes the forces working for and describes targeted interventions that are holistic and all-encompassing to address the issue of reintegration.

A fourth analysis which is not done in this paper could be the ‘key people’ and ‘more people’/ actors analysis that provides an understanding of various organizations and institutions that have the proficiencies to undertake one or two of the interventions, or that are critical if interventions must succeed, what their interest are and what they stand to gain or lose from change. See the diagrams below. 

Approach to work with High Risk Youth 

In addition, at the policy level—to strive for greater synergies and coordination among the various groups concerned with youth issues, a “Youth Focus Coalition” could be formed if it already does not exist. 

This might include: the Ministries of Youth & Sports, Education, Agriculture, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Ministry of Labor, Governance Commission, Independent National Commission on Human Rights, the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, as well as the Agricultural Improvement Training Bureau (AITB).

Other would be NCDDRR, the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), UNDP, UNICEF and ILO, plus appropriate civil society representative.  Although the Joint Program on Youth Employment and Empowerment brings most of these institutions together - this coalition of government and international agencies would be a primary place to which the youth workers could bring their perceptions of what high risk youth need, what kinds of efforts are working best, and important gaps in programming that must be addressed.

Ones set up and functioning, there will be a need to conduct annual youth national reconciliation and peacebuilding conference to recognize youth contributions to the development efforts of the government. 

But let’s look at other meaningful and concrete interventions especially related to skills development and trade that will be helpful for young people, particularly those with little or no formal education – something I am proposing to the new Government of President-Elect H.E. George Manneh Weah and Vice President-Elect Jewel Howard Taylor for consideration. 

Again the proposal I make is all not entirely new although I have made several modifications and reviewed similar type of programs in a few other context and countries including Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. Also some of the proposals below come as far back during the DDRR program of 2003/2004 and from a report by a UN Peacebuilding Commission Delegation Mission to Liberia of August 2010. 

The Proposal is to set up or establish “A National Youth Service Program Crops” which goal would be to “promote a national sense of service, reconciliation, and youth development by extending rule focus on 20 – 35 year old youth and to emphasize a national service model that builds reconciliation and improves skill levels, while partnering with the police and building vital infrastructure of law and improving Liberia’s infrastructure.” 

Implementation framework 

Within the next 3 – 4 years the GoL is encouraged to recruit and train about 10,000 young people with little or no formal education,  in various disciplines such as carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical works, tailoring, auto-mechanics (with focus on heavy duty machines), road construction and rehabilitation works, food processing, to name a few. 

The 10,000 young people with a gender balance of 50-50 should be recruited from all the 15 counties, in proportion of the population size of the counties and then deployed to work back in their county after the training. Training centers should be established in each county – or at least five regional training centers could be established in the first year of the program. Depending on the area of focus, training must be intense and not less than two to four as may be required.

While in training, monthly stipend should be provided to each trainee for the duration of the training.  While the training is ongoing, the government must create the environment for immediate employment so that trained youths get employed after the training.

To do this, the government must bring in the requisite machines and equipment, and set up work centers where trainees can be gainfully employed. The government can also hire other highly skilled professionals in other disciplines like Management, Accounting, and Procurement, Social Work etc. that will help support and properly manage the Corporative to be established by government.  

For example, those trained in tailoring could be used to sew all government school uniforms, prisoners’ uniforms, and cloths and beddings for patients in hospitals. At the national level a group of more professional and specialized tailors could sew the uniforms for the AFL, LNP, LIS, BCR, Coast Guard, Fire Service and other para-security institutions. This would also save the GoL thousands of foreign currency used to input these uniforms into Liberia. The majority of those recruited and trained in tailoring could be young women I described above earlier.

Similarly, those recruited and trained in carpentry could be deployed or assigned in each of the 15 counties and will then produce all of the chairs, desks, tables and other furniture for all government schools in the counties and other agencies of the government as well as support the private sector. 

Another group of carpenters and other trained in construction related works: masonry, plumbing, electrical works could be used to help build public buildings including police stations and deports, courts, prisons, and low income housing, just to name a few.

Those trained in producing and laying bricks, including soil stabilized bricks, will also be very useful in the construction and maintenance of these public works related programs across Liberia; while a good number trained in roads construction could serve as Assistants in road construction.  The 10,000 trained in various disciplines will also become themselves trainers of other young people who will work as apprentice. 

Furthermore, some of those trained and attained the requisite skills and abilities (illiterate, vocational and university training, etc.), could help in land reforms efforts especially assisting in surveying and related works, while some could work as mediators facilitating palava hut discussions across Liberia as well as support the NEC to build awareness and educate on voting processes and procedures; still others could support rule of law efforts and work as Assistant Magistrates or County/District Legal Aid educating the public of legal rights. 

Other group of young people to consider is those that are already providing some forms of services to earn a living, for example, car washing, barber shops and beauty salons / hair platting / hair-dressing, moto-bikes and baja riders who may not opt for enrollment in the NYSPC.

It is obvious that this group should be assisted to formalize, professionalize and advance the services they provide. This would help them earn better wages or enable them to manage their earnings properly.  

For young people who are going through formal education – especially coming out of senior high schools and anticipating to enroll in community colleges, universities and other professional academic institutions, the Government needs to establish and Vocational Training Loan (VTL) program.

Under this program, young people will pay for their college education up to master’s level, through the banks and will than pay back their VTLs after they graduate and start to work.

As student in this program get in the 3rd year, efforts must be employed to have them work as interns in their career area in both public and private institutions so that when they graduate they will also have two years of practical job experience. There are good examples of African countries for example Uganda and Zimbabwe, where the VTLs have worked very well even if not perfect, that we could learn from. 

Conclusion 

Finally, the National Youth Service Program Crops (NYSPC), will help build national capacity not just in human resources by providing opportunities that make young people more attractive to employers, but more importantly, leveraging the Crops to support initiatives in Rule of Law, Public Works, Security Sector, Land Reforms, Reconciliation, Agriculture, Labor and more.

As mentioned above, following their training, youth will be deployed to both the urban and rural areas to support development activities in these areas. While I recommend strongly the setting up of Corporative (perhaps in groups of 10 – 20, not more than 40), young people could also work as partners with existing organizations and structures which are achieving success addressing the intricacies of these complex issues.

Most importantly, the NYSPC would provide a venue to address historic divisions at the individual level and catalyze the reconciliation process at the grassroots level. 

To successfully achieve the NYSPC, will require huge financing to about 56 – 60 million over a four year period. It would also require thorough planning and execution, hard work, dedication and commitments of all actors, as well as the highest of political will of the GoL. It must also employ the highest of transparency and accountability not only on the funds but all aspects of the program implementation.

Perhaps a separate or dedicated account or trust fund needs to be established. The program must also develop a very practical monitoring, evaluation and reporting plan. I would also propose that the NYSPC be legislated so as to give this program the support and attention it requires. I am sure we do not lack the technical know-how in Liberia but funding remains a key challenge, if not the highest of political will.

The issues of funding and political will are not unique to Liberia. For example, research shows that regarding technical and vocational education and training, this has not been a top priority for many African countries.

In 2012, technical and vocational programs accounted for only 6 percent of total secondary enrollment in the region, a slight drop from 7 percent in 1999.

TVET programs markedly declined in the 1980s due to budgetary shortfalls in the education sector of many African countries and have never fully recovered. On average, only about 2 to 6 percent of educational budgets are devoted to technical and vocation skills development. 

 

Wilfred N. Gray-Johnson
Commissioner, Independent National Commission on Human Rights

[1] Documents reviewed include: 1) The UN Common Country Assessment (CCA) of June 2006, 2) The National Security Strategy of the Republic of Liberia of January 2008, 3) The Liberia Priority Plan of February 2008 (submitted to the United Nations  Peacebuilding  Fund), 4) The Government of Liberia (GOL) Poverty Reduction Strategy of July 2008, 5) The United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Liberia (UNDAF) of July 2008, 6) The TRC Conflict Mapping Exercise of October 2008, 7)  TRC Report of 2009 and 8) GOL Issues Paper of March 2010 (submitted to the 2010 High Level Forum of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding held in Dili, Timor Leste. Other are: 9)  The Statement of Mutual Commitments (SMC) adopted between the Government of Liberia and the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission in November 2010, 10) The Liberia Peacebuilding Program of May 201, 11) The Justice Security Joint Program of September 2011, 12) The Liberia Fragility Assessment of September 2012, 13) The GOL National Vision 2030 of December 2012, 14) The Agenda for Transformation also of December 2012, 15) The Strategic Roadmap for National Healing Peacebuildng and Reconciliation and 16) Liberian Priority Plan II of August 2013.

 

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