What problem did it address, where?
Youth employment has become a major concern in many countries around the world. As policy-makers consider measures to help young people make the transition into the labor market and obtain decent work, they are hampered by a lack of information on what their options are and what works in different situations. The rising concern over youth unemployment led to enhanced engagement and effort of the international development community. To address such issue, FAO has introduced the Junior Farmer Field and Life School (JFFLS) approach. The approach was piloted in Mozambique in 2004 and since then has been implemented in Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, Ghana, Gaza & West Bank, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The JFFLS approach has a unique learning methodology and curriculum, which combine both agricultural and life skills. An innovative aspect of the JFFLS is the way youth are encouraged to develop as people; a school timetable includes cultural activities such as singing, dancing, and theatre. This allows the youth to develop confidence while keeping local cultural traditions alive.
Specifically trained extension workers, teachers and social animators use this participatory methodology to pass on agricultural knowledge and life skills to young boys and girls. For one entire school year, a multidisciplinary team of facilitators leads participatory sessions with a group of youth who range in age from 15 to 18. These sessions are given two to three times a week in the field and classroom after regular school hours. The one-year learning programme follows the crop cycle; links are established between agriculture, nutrition, gender equality and life-skills knowledge so that young participants learn to grow healthy crops while making informed decisions for leading healthy lives. Participatory field activities include crop selection and cultivation, land preparation, pest management, cultivation of medicinal plants and income generation; local theatre, art, dance or songs are also integral aspects of each JFFLS day. The schools address a wide range of issues such as gender sensitivity, child protection, psycho-social support, nutrition, health, hygiene, sanitation, education and business skills; ad-hoc modules for child labour prevention and land and property rights can also be included in the curriculum of the JFFLS.
This innovative approach directly contributes to MDG 1 (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger), to MDG 3 (promoting gender equality and empowering women) as well as MDG 8 (develop a global partnership for development, target 16, cooperation with developing countries to develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for the youth). Indirectly the programme contributes to MDG 4 and 2 (reducing child mortality and achieving universal education).
A further innovation in the approach which was tested the first time in 2008 in Gaza and West Bank was the grouping of the JFFLS graduates at the end of the cycle in local youth associations so to form some youth farmers’ cooperatives; in 2009 the same mechanism was also introduced in Mozambique.
The JFFLS have been included as one of the main activities in the UNJPs for ‘’Youth Employment and Migration’’ in Malawi, Mozambique and Sudan, as well as in the UNJP for Peace in Nepal. The Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESWD), leads also a number of other projects aimed at promoting employment opportunities and entrepreneurship for rural youths through the JFFLS and the creation of youth farmers’ cooperatives in Gaza Strip and West Bank, Honduras, Kenya and Uganda.