Sierra Leone launches vast youth plan to create 1 million new jobs and expand higher education

01 May 2014

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Sierra Leone has unveiled a USD 217 million plan to create one million new jobs by 2018.

 “The nation can only move forward when its youth step forward,” President Ernest Bai Koroma said as he launched the new scheme. “To play in the premier league of development, one must train hard, acquire more skills and be disciplined to benefit from the opportunities that are being provided”.

Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the initiative also aims to provide access to secondary and higher education to 300,000 new students over the next three years. UNDP funded the preparation of the plan and will be helping the government to mobilize resources to help implement it.

“It is my desire to make sure young people positively contribute to advancing this nation. The youth agenda is a top priority for the UN,” said Gon Myers, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone.

The Programme will focus on creating job opportunities and entreprenueurship in the private sector, supporting the Ministry of Youth Affairs and National Youth Commission to deliver on the ambitious agenda, and bolstering the public service’s ability to absorb new recruits.

It is expected that jobs will be created in sectors as diverse as marketing agricultural products and public works.

“With a very young population, if investments are made in their social, economic and political empowerment and inclusion, they can easily become the drivers of a prosperous future,” said Sudipto Mukerjee, UNDP Country Director. 

According to the National Youth Programme, Sierra Leone has 1.7 million women and men aged 15 to 35, with 60 percent of these young people unemployed. Only 37 percent of school-age population goes to high school or university, while half of the country’s youths are illiterate.

The programme is also expected to contribute to peace and stability in a country that has emerged from one of Africa’s most brutal civil wars.

Participants at the launch ceremony, including youth groups and civil society organizations, called on international partners to support Sierra Leone as it fulfills this important promise.

Media contacts:
UNDP Sierra Leone. Abdul Karim Bah : Email abdul-karim.bah@undp.og; Tel+ 23278272315