5 Education Programs Investing in the Next Generation of African Leaders

Kristen Grauer

For the first time in history on August 4-6, the United States will welcome a record number of leaders from across the African continent to Washington, D.C. for the U.S.-African Leaders Summit. The event seeks to strengthen U.S.-African relations by highlighting America's renewed commitment to African security and development under the Summit theme: Investing in the Next Generation. By focusing their partnership on youth, both parties hope to increase opportunities for African growth in several key areas such as the engagement of young African leaders in creating social change.

Here at CEI, we recognize the value of investing in youth and have identified over 60 innovative programs across Sub-Saharan Africa that are helping to mold the next generation of African leaders through education. In this blog post, we would like to highlight 5 programs that have particularly unique models for helping young entrepreneurs and community changemakers to realize their full academic and professional potential.

1. TrailblazersSouth Africa

Young people from disadvantaged communities within South Africa are not being equipped with the right skills to prepare them for adulthood, and the secondary school curriculum does not adequately address the issue of work readiness. Research has revealed that soft skills are becoming a key component to accessing employment and the Trailblazer Program aims to embed these skills in the next generation of African leaders. The enke: Trailblazer Program for secondary school learners aims to increase non-cognitive skills, which include; grit, empathy, social awareness, agency, and learned optimism. The team at enke: Make Your Mark (“enke”) has shown that by building these skills, school performance is enhanced and the students develop the capacity to seek out opportunities in and beyond school. In addition, the youth undergo personal development and self-awareness training, which imparts them with better decision making skills in order to prevent them from limiting their futures through engaging in high risk behaviors such as teenage pregnancy, gangs, and substance abuse. The Trailblazer Program has 3 distinct phases; training, action, and celebration. Read more...

2. This Is Africa (TIA)Tanzania

This is Africa (TIA) is an initiative of the UK-based social enterprise Bright Green Enterprise that operates for the benefit of education development across the UK and Tanzania. The TIA Initiative offers a unique business development program to secondary students in Tanzania. To engage students in the topics of business, enterprise, and employment skills, TIA runs a number of core programs delivered to student year groups - typically between 100 and 250 students across one day to one week. These programs challenge student teams with a competitive business brief that will not only fill a needs gap within their community but will also critically examine the business impact on ecological and social environments. In order to keep students engaged beyond core program activities, TIA offers schools a short-term, but high-impact, inter-school competition that can be either student or teacher initiated (either as part of curriculum activities or in students’ own time). While there is a main enterprise and skills program component of TIA, the program's business curriculum is supplemented by technology education - focusing on solar devices and lowering organizations' carbon footprints. Read more...

3. Uganda Rural Development and Training Program (URDT)Uganda

The Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme (URDT) empowers marginalized people in rural areas of Uganda by focusing on the “missing link” in development programs. URDT uses a people-centered approach by combining rural development projects with consciousness raising, training, education and information sharing to facilitate integrated, self-directed, and sustainable development in surrounding communities. URDT addresses various domains including education for more than 300 students each year. Children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 25 years old receive financial support and materials and participate in extracurricular activities such as the school farm. URDT operates the following institutions: URDT Girls' School (URDTGS), a girls' primary and secondary school, Institute for Vocational Studies and Youth Leadership Development, and African Rural University, an all-female university. The five URDT schools aim to reduce barriers to education and train impoverished girls (70%) and boys to become experts in sustainable development through co-curricular programs. Read more...

4. KITO International Education and TrainingKenya

KITO is designed by street youth for street youth, aiming to provide key support beyond the rehabilitation centers. A gap in youth services, identified by KITO founder Wiclif Otiendo, is a lack of support after rehabilitation and a struggle to enter the job market, in some instances resulting in a return to the streets. KITO delivers education and training in a one month intensive course for ex-street youth and disadvantaged youth in the Kawangware slum.  Training courses take place quarterly in the KITO office in Kawangware. KITO currently has resources to take 15 youth in each training course. The training covers life skills, entrepreneurship skills, the basics of personal finance and savings, ICT, leadership development and team-building. The training curriculum is adapted from ‘Street Kids International’ and is amended to meet the needs of youth enrolled, many of whom have limited formal education experience. Training sessions are facilitated both by KITO staff and external facilitators from The Village Africa.  The program seeks to support youth as they transition into employment, thus upon completion of the training, KITO provides youth with one month work placements using their businesses contacts. Read more...

5. Akazi KanozeRwanda

AK provides Rwandan youth with hands-on work readiness and entrepreneurship soft skills, short term vocational skills training and linkages into the job market. The program utilizes the Rwandan Youth Work Readiness Curriculum which comprises of eight modules in personal development, communication, work habits, leadership and financial and market literacy among others. The curriculum is designed to educate youth with foundational skills and knowledge which will enable them to become healthy productive workers and participants in civic and community affairs. The work readiness training course typically lasts for about 100 hours, complemented by 35 hours of entrepreneurship training. The program curriculum is flexible enough to cater to varying knowledge and skill levels of participants. In addition to increasing youth access to employment and self-employment opportunities, AK also seeks to build capacity of local organizations that are working towards youth workforce development and to contribute to implementing national policies in this area. The program is committed to creating and sustaining collaborations between local government institutions, donors, NGOs, education and training providers and the private sector. Read more...

To learn more about this topic, check out the following programs and resources on the CEI website:

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