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Providing skills for resilient youth in the era of C0VID19 #WYSD2020

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

The world as we know is dynamically changing at a fast rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If we were told a year ago that nearly 70% of the world’s learners would be affected by school closures across education levels in 2020, it would most probably be hard to comprehend how. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. More importantly in Kenya, On 7th July 2020, the Ministry of Education led by Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha said the 2020 School calendar will be considered lost and all students would repeat a year as schools had closed in mid-March, three months after the school calendar had begun. This would apply to public and private schools, he said. This means more than 15 million learners will stay at home for another six months as the government assesses the situation before giving the way forward.

15th July marks the World Youth Skills Day, a day set aside for the global community to highlight and promote the importance of developing skilled youth. This year's theme "Skills for resilient youth" is addressing the rising unemployment figures as stated by the latest Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the future of jobs.The report shows that since 2017, there has been an upward trend in the number of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET). Through the Tusome Initiative, Positive Action Kenya has dedicated over 4 years in developing relevant skills in children and youth. The initiative slogan, "Learning today, Leading tomorrow' has been the cornerstone to guiding all of the program's initiatives. To date, The Tusome initiative has directly impacted over 850 children and youth based in informal settlements in Kenya through the following projects:

  • Tusome Clubs: PAK has provided introduced clubs to schools in under-served communities focusing on three thematic areas of development: business, arts and sports. The Business club equips youths aged 13-19 years with relevant skills on how to turn ideas into income-generating small businesses that support them and positively impact their communities. The Creative Arts club helps youth to further develop skills in art, theater and music by providing mentors and tutors as well as enabling talented children to participate in local, regional and national arts and music festival. Lastly, the Sports club that uses sports clinics to engage youth and keep them active after school.

  • Somesha Project: This was an academic support project that provided 24 scholarships for children and youth to further their education. The scholarships centered around high performing secondary students unable to meet financial requirements to attend school and post-secondary youth who are unable to join tertiary institutions due to lack of finances.

This year due to the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, the PAK Team has been forced to rethink the strategy and revise activities while still being true to the mission. Having temporarily stopped the Tusome clubs, the team has worked day and night to continue to provide support for academic learning and skill development. Coincidentally, in line with this year's theme on #WYSD2020 "Skills for resilient youth" we have added two new projects to the #tusomeinitiative program in the era COVID-19. Now more than ever, children and youth need to be equipped with relevant knowledge and skills to help them navigate the dynamic times we are living in.

The Bridge Workbook is designed to bridge the current gap in learning from home with the growing divide of access to digital learning solutions for children and youth in remote and under-served communities. Beginning with the most affected learners, class 8 and form 4 who were set to sit their national examination at the end of the year, The Bridge workbook provides revision past papers as well as robust and applicable soft skills exercises that build capacity in youth to be more resilient.

Our first target is to distribute 2000 copies of the Bridge workbook to class 8 and Form 4 students primarily targeting students in remote communities unable to access digital learning solutions and secondary urban/ semi-urban students.

Another addition is the Bora career preparation program dubbed #Keshoyangu that is designed to equip and guide youth transitioning to adulthood with relevant information, mentorship, and guidance to map out their desired career path and make better career-related decisions. The program is delivered through five 2-hour online sessions spread out over 14 days. The sessions focus on:

  • Exploring learners' skills, personal qualities, interests, values, and the world of work to make out and learn how these can help them make informed education, career, and life decisions for their future.

  • Developing learners' knowledge of self to apply and use them to progress in life.

  • Learning, enhancing, and adopting soft life skills that will help them effectively transition into adulthood.

Now more than ever, we believe this program is crucial to keep youth who are currently out of school engaged and actively involved in mapping out their future. Beginning in August 2020, the program targets youth in the age bracket of 16-21 years who are beginning their transition into adulthood and tertiary learning.

In conclusion, education and training are central to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable development goals agenda. By 2025, it is expected that the working-age population in Kenya will increase by nearly nine million people. A third of this population will be made up of young people between ages 15 and 24 that need to be put to productive use. This indicates that there is an urgent need to create more jobs, that are better (more productive) and inclusive (to vulnerable populations). According to the World Economic Forum report, more than one-third of all jobs across industries are expected to require complex problem-solving skills, social skills, emotional intelligence, and higher-order thinking. PAK is committed to continually innovating and exploring new approaches to education and relevant skills development while putting soft skills at the center of the new designs.

Written by

Diana Ngao,

Co-founder and Executive Director

Positive Action Kenya

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