The Mission Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Liberia, John Mark Winfield, says youth learning and empowerment are key to the development of Liberia.
Addressing the closing of a national youth summit sponsored by the U.S. Government, Mission Director Winfield recognized that Liberia’s youth are the country’s most important “natural resource,” and challenged them to strive to reach their full potential. Despite facing many challenges, he recognized that the young people participating in the summit have proven their dedication to improving their lives. “You are here today not just as learners, but as leaders and role models from your community who are showing that it is never too late to learn. I want to encourage all of you to continue with your efforts and mutual support – through hard work and collaborating together, you can achieve more”.
He praised the Government of Liberia for its commitment to assisting out of school youth through concrete actions, including having a voice in the national debate on youth issues. Mission Director Winfield said the U.S. Government, through USAID, would continue its partnership with the Government of Liberia and others to ensure broad access to education and employment for Liberian youth.
The summit, which brought together over 100 youth from Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Margibi, Montserrado and Nimba Counties, is part of the USAID Advancing Youth’s Alternative Basic Education (ABE) program.
ABE provides quality alternative basic education, social and leadership development and promotes livelihoods for out-of-school Liberian young people, aged 13-35, who have little education.
During the summit, Assistant Minister for Student Personnel Services at the Ministry of Education, William Gaye, thanked the U.S. Government for its support, and acknowledged the beneficial impact of the Advancing Youth program. He confirmed that youth learning and empowerment is a high priority of the Ministry of Education, the Government of Liberia, and the Liberian people.
Those who attended the summit were the most successful leaders of Youth Clubs supported by the program. The clubs carry out a range of activities to support their communities and to encourage their colleagues to enroll in the program and continue with their studies. Their activities include establishing gardens and growing food for consumption and sale, reading and study clubs, sports activities and community service.
USAID’s Advancing Youth Project is implemented by the U.S.-based Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) in collaboration with the YMCA of Liberia and Mercy Corps. The project is currently reaching more than 10,000 learners with education, livelihoods and leadership opportunities in six counties. The goal is to reach more than 16,000 Liberian youth by 2016.