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International Youth Day: 3 ways UNFPA is Transforming Education in Rwanda to Empower Young People

As envisioned by the Agenda 2063 Framework Document: “Africa’s young people are the principal engine for fostering development at all levels. By 2063, Africa’s children and youth will be fully engaged as the talent pipeline, principal innovators, and indeed the sustainers of Africa’s advantages from transformation”. With the largest young generation in history - in Rwanda, nearly 60% of the population is under the age of 25 - there has never been a more opportune time to invest in youth and their education to harness the demographic dividend as now. 

“Transforming education” is this year’s theme for the celebration of International Youth Day (IYD). Here are three examples of how UNFPA and partners are working towards making education on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) more relevant, equitable and inclusive for youth in Rwanda.

1. Making education more relevant. 

Relevant education closely connects to youth, their needs and interests. As the world is changing rapidly, now is the time to harness new innovations that can provide breakthrough solutions to deliver SRHR education. Through apps like Tantine, developed by one of the winners of the first round of UNFPA’s iAccelerator programme, youth-friendly education on sexual and reproductive health is available to youth in Rwanda in an easily accessible and engaging format.

Tantine mobile application, finalist of UNFPA’s Innovation Accelerator (2017).

2. Making education more equitable. 

Education is equitable when it ensures that personal and social circumstances, such as gender, origin, and background, are not obstacles to achieving educational potential: this is key to leave no one behind, including teenage mothers. By age 19, one in five Rwandan girls are first time mothers. Through the First Time Young Mothers programme, implemented by the Imbuto Foundation since 2017, UNFPA has supported over 400 young mothers and their children in accessing an integrated package of interventions, with the long-term objective of increasing access and information to sexual and reproductive health services. The programme also  reintegrates young women in school when possible and provides skills training for Income Generating Activities to sustain their family.

First Time Young Mother reunites with her family in Rubavu (Imbuto Foundation, 2018).

3. Making education more inclusive. 

Education about SRHR should be inclusive, reaching both in-school and out-of-school adolescents, vulnerable groups including people with disabilities, teenage mothers, Highly Marginalized Populations and those furthest to reach. In July 2019, in partnership with key advocates of SRHR, UNFPA led a Youth Travelling Caravan in Rwanda to mobilise youth through five key districts, reaching over 7,000 community members. Led by young advocates including AfriYAN Rwanda, the Youth Travelling Caravan gathered stories and testimonies on key issues affecting young people’s access to SRHR, including collective creative ideas on how to expand SRHR education in school and beyond.

Youth Travelling Caravan engaging community members (2019).

Aligned with the UN Youth Strategy 2030, UNFPA embraces youth’s diversity and is committed to continue supporting the Rwanda Ministry of Youth and partners through the One UN Joint Programme on Youth to catapult Rwanda’s progress forward through increased investment in young people’s human capital, increased opportunities for employment, expanding access to and availability of youth friendly health information and services, and improving access to financial systems.

This year’s IYD commemoration coincides with double celebrations as 2019 marks the 25th Anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD@25) and the 50th Anniversary of UNFPA (UNFPA@50). From 12-14 November 2019, the governments of Kenya and Denmark and UNFPA are co-convening the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, a high-level global conference to mobilize the political will and financial commitments we urgently need fulfil the Promise of Cairo for young people across the world.

#31DaysofYOUth #Youth2030 #ICPD25