NEWTON, MA | June 1, 2011
Amid great fanfare, the president of the West African nation of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, launched a new national program to address youth unemployment through education and training. Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), will implement the program known as PAJE-Nièta (“Support to Youth Entrepreneurs Project”), which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the portfolio of youth development programs known as EQUIP3.
“In which family—even my own—in which village, which commune, which region have we not had youth without jobs?” President Touré asked the 300 people in the audience, which included Prime Minister Ms. Mariam Kaidama Sidibe Cisse, and other government officials. The launch of the program was held at the International Conference Center in Bamako.
U.S. Ambassador Gillian A. Milovanovic said the nation’s out-of-school youth, ages 10–24, comprise nearly one-third of Mali’s population. “We have to listen to these youth and their aspirations and offer responses to the problems they encounter in their search for employment,” she said. “Integrating these youth into the economic life of the country is a strategic issue of extreme importance for the future of Mali.”
The PAJE-Nièta program will provide 12,000 rural out-of-school youth, ages 14–25, in four regions—Sikasso, Kayes, Koulikoro, and Timbuktu—with improved basic education, work readiness and technical training, social and leadership development, as well as assistance with livelihood activities. A key focus is agricultural enterprise development, with training in agriculture and animal husbandry, to help youth create successful agro-enterprises to respond to the U.S. food security initiative Feed the Future.
The five-year program has a unique implementation strategy: it will be delivered through a volunteer corps made up of Malian youth who have received a formal education and earned a diploma from secondary school, trade school, or university.
“PAJE-Nièta offers a double advantage for us,” said Cheick M. Coulibaly, who represented program volunteers. “We, the PAJE-Nièta volunteers, salute these efforts that combat youth unemployment, which is becoming increasingly difficult, and help stop the rural exodus slowing the development of our communities. Today, we are ready to help our brothers and sisters who were unable to attend or complete school.”
Two hundred educated youth will commit two years to the project as participants. Their goal will be to prepare other young people for jobs or self-employment across Mali.
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that addresses some of the world’s most urgent challenges in education, health, and economic development. EDC manages 350 projects in 35 countries. Visit edc.org.