FAO activities with rural youth
There are a large number of programmes for youth currently In operation In all countries of the region. However, in almost all cases, the programmes reach only a small percentage of their audience. In most countries, the major programmes are conducted through the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry, Education, Manpower and Community development. In addition, a large number of non-governmental agencies throughout the region are involved In youth work such as Young Farmer's and 4H clubs, Scouts, religious, and community development organisations.
Examples of rural youth programmes and projects in development programmes include the following:
a. Formal education with a rural development bias. In some countries of the region, school curricula at the elementary and secondary level have been modified to include practical agriculture, handicrafts, home economics and population education.
b. Non-formal education programmes for out-of-school youth. Generally these are introduced as special training programmes in literacy improvement, leadership development, vocational and productive skill training, youth cooperatives, and population education. Most countries of the region have some experience of these programmes though often on a small scale.
c. Income generating projects that allow individuals and groups to build on the training received, with supervision through youth group activities and credit facilities.
d. Provision of rural services that Include youth as beneficiaries. These services may Include supervised credit for young farmers and rural youth, making available learning and production resources, health care and recreation activities.
e. Organized community development programmes that challenge and satisfy the energies and aspirations of rural youth. Reforestation, community development and community agricultural shows are examples.
f. The organization and guidance of rural youth for leadership development, skill training, service and production purposes. This Includes the formation of youth clubs such young farmers, 4-H, scouts and guides, religious organisations etc.
Considering the nature and interests of youth, much can be accomplished through programmes of recognition for outstanding achievements (in productive work, leadership and service) of rural youth and young farmers. With imagination, these types of programmes can be carried out both at the local and national level with very little resource allocation. Recognising the large number of rural youth in each country, their varied needs, Interests, abilities and problems and the limited resources of governments and NGOs it becomes evident that cooperation and collaboration among ministries in government is a necessity.
Exchange of experiences
Youth development and Investments in youth are one of the best possible investments in human capital.
FAO's work with rural youth programmes is mainly in the following four areas:
FAO assists governments in formulating projects for rural youth and in advising on government youth programme development. Sometimes projects are designed specifically for rural youth - at other times, youth are Included in the target audience as appropriate. Forestry projects with activities for in-school and out-of school youth are examples of FAO's integrated approach to development.
At present, FAO activities include assistance in project formulation and advice on rural youth programmes in many countries in all regions including, in Africa, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe.
Field projects which Include youth in the target audience provide an opportunity for the Organization to expand its commitment to working with rural young men and women. Forestry and fisheries projects with activities for in-school and out-of-school youth are examples of integrated approaches. Nearly all FAO agricultural education projects which focus on strengthening of formal training programmes In educational institutions benefit an audience which can be formally defined as youth.
Comparing youth programmes in different countries is a difficult matter. It may seem attractive to consider the apparent success of one type of project in one country and assume that the model would work equally well when applied to another. In practice however, the success of a model In a given situation is dependent on a complex set of factors, many of which relate to particular socio-economic circumstances, but this does not mean that experience cannot be transferred: It is also possible that a model which seems ineffective in one situation may show better results when implemented in another. In addition, over a period of years, the chances for success may alter significantly.
Rural youth studies to define the problems and needs of rural youth and the adults that work with youth programmes have been conducted in several countries. Most studies continue to identify lack of appropriate education and training and limited employment opportunities as the areas of greatest concern. All reports show that rural youth are well aware of their problems and have specific Ideas for solving them indicating the Importance of planning with youth and not for youth work.
FAO has established a communication network among youth programme leaders in developing countries. A publication 'Youthworks' is produced twice yearly covering youth issues and practical ideas for youth groups. Youth leaders are encouraged to contribute materials and discuss relevant ideas through this information note. Workshops such as this also help to assist in the exchange of experiences of those working with youth In developing countries.
FAO supports out of school population education though existing organisations In a number of ways.
-Through the formal education system of agricultural schools, colleges and universities
-Through the extension system - an inter-regional pilot project has been working with ways to integrate population education into national extension systems.
-Through the youth programme, particularly the inter-regional project for integration of population education into programmes for rural youth.
Through this UNFPA funded project, FAO has developed a set of youth leaders guides covering important aspects of population education as it relates to subjects such as agriculture, employment, health and nutrition and the environment.
The materials were developed in collaboration with youth leaders in several countries and are intended for use with group leaders of rural youth organisations. This approach seems to be an effective way of reaching rural youth who are at the critical age when they begin to make decisions concerning marriage and children but can no longer be reached through the schools.
The materials have been tested on a pilot basis In countries of Africa and Latin America and the English language version revised according to field comments. In each region, considerable changes are made to the text and illustrations to make them more relevant to the region. Ultimately, they need to be adapted to each country but the prototypes are found useful as a starting point to develop suitable materials wherever they have been Introduced. The revised English language version for Africa is presented here at this workshop with the intention that for use in each Individual country, further adaptations should be made to suit the individual country requirements.