The Youth Division is the division responsible for Africa's Youth Agenda at the African Union Commission (AUC). The Division is in charge of addressing issues concerning:
• Youth policy development: the African Youth Charter;
• Legal frameworks for Youth development;
• Programmatic framework: African Youth Decade Plan of Action (2009–2018);
• Youth capacity building and enhancing employability skills through the African Union Youth Volunteers Corps (AU-YVC);
• Partnership building and resource mobilization;
• Promoting Youth participation through activities such as organizing Youth Forums and Celebrating the African Youth Day;
1. THE AFRICAN YOUTH CHARTER
In July 2006, the Summit of the African Union in Banjul, the Gambia, adopted the African Youth Charter (AYC). The Charter is a political and legal document which serves as the strategic framework that gives direction to youth empowerment and development at the continental, regional and national levels. The AYC aims to strengthen, reinforce and consolidate efforts to empower young people through meaningful participation and equal partnership in driving Africa's development agenda. The document refers to the rights, freedoms and duties of Young people in Africa
As of 23 June, 2015,
1) 42 Member States have signed the Charter;
2) 37 Member States have ratified the Charter; and
3) 3 Member States are yet to sign and ratify.
Domestication and Implementation
Work needs to be done to domesticate and implement the African Youth Charter. Law makers should align national laws and policies with the provisions of the Charter, and the rights and responsibilities of young people should specifically be made enforceable in the respective constitutions and other laws of Member States.
The specific duties imposed on Member States in the African Youth Charter vis-à-vis observing the rights of young people may involve huge financial implications. However, to prevent non-implementation after ratification, Member States should include in their constitutions and other relevant laws a provision to impose an obligation on governing bodies to embark on the progressive execution of their duties under the AYC, by committing fixed percentages of their national budgets to implementing the provisions of the Charter.
All member states are thus encouraged to take appropriate steps in ratifying and implementing the Charter. This would further strengthen the youth to play their inevitable roles in sustainable national and continental development. Member States are expected to have Youth Ministries which shall be strengthened to execute the legal and policy frameworks aimed at empowering the young people.
2. THE YOUTH DECADE PLAN OF ACTION
The African Youth Decade Plan of Action (DPoA) 2009-2018 is a framework for multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional engagement of all stakeholders towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of the African Youth Charter. The DPoA also facilitates more coordinated and concerted actions towards accelerating youth empowerment and development. The plan of action provides a context that explains the background and reasons behind the declaration of a Decade for Youth by the African Union Assembly in January 2009. This Plan intends to support the development of national and regional plans of action, while simultaneously providing a framework to allow coordinated activities at the continental level.
The DPoA is intended for use by a broad spectrum of stakeholders including African Union Member States, development partners, the AU Commission and other AU organs. Having reached the middle of the decade, the Youth Division embarked on a mid-term review (MTR) so as to track the progress of implementation of the Plan of Action and recommend a set of priorities for the remaining five years of the DPoA in line with the post 2015 Agenda, Agenda 2063 and other instruments pertaining to Youth development .
The 5 key priority areas identified include:
1. Education and Skills Development
2. Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship
3. Governance, Peace and Security
4. Youth Health and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights
5. Agriculture, Climate Change and the Environment
3. TVET CONTINENTAL STRATEGY
The Heads of State and Government Summit of the African Union held in Malabo, in June, 2014, adopted the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) Continental Strategy. It is based on the fundamental principle that there is a need for a paradigm shift in the perception of technical and vocational education and training. It is therefore important to set up or restructure a TVET system that;
• Restores the image of TVET, which should not be considered as the last option when all the others have failed;
• Addresses all the levels: from primary to higher education, informal and formal sector as well as public and private sector;
• Ensures adequate linkages between Training and the Labour market needs ;
• Acts as an enabler of youth empowerment on the continent in order to meet the challenge of making available human resources capable of meeting Africa’s developmental needs.
For an efficient implementation of the TVET Continental Strategy, there is a need to mobilize Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Member States. Regional and national plans and programs on this matter should include a consistent approach in combination with the continental strategy by taking the following into consideration:
• Quality trainers’ trainings
• Tightening of the relationship between training institutions and the industry in all aspects
• Encouraging and promoting innovation, which should become part and parcel of youth culture
• Encouraging skills development for job creation rather than job seeking
• Fully self-confident Africans believing that the future depends on what their achievements are today
• Ensuring and making available financial support
• One of the key sectors important for the success of the continental strategy is communication, for which a strong and aggressive policy is yet to be formulated.
4. AFRICA YOUTH DAY
When the African Youth Charter was adopted through an Executive Council Decision of the Banjul Summit of 2006 (DOC.EX.CL./292 (IX), the 1st of November was proclaimed as “African Youth Day (AYD).” The celebration of African Youth Day aims to increase awareness of, commitment to and investment in youth; increase and strengthen youth participation and partnerships, as well as increase intercultural exchanges and understanding among young people. The AUC through consultation with partners determines a theme for the Day annually.
5. SPECIALISED TECHNICAL COMMITTEE (STC) ON YOUTH, CULTURE AND SPORT
From 2014, the African Union Conferences of Ministers of Youth, Culture and Sport, previously organized by each sector separately, were phased out and replaced with the Specialized Technical Committees (STCs), as provided for by the African Union Constitutive Act, Article 16. The Specialized Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sport is one of the 14 STCs, and is defined as an Organ of the African Union in accordance with Article 5 (1) (g) of the AU Constitutive Act. The STC on Youth, Culture and Sports will meet once every two years.
6. AU DECISIONS WITH A BEARING ON YOUTH
7. AFRICAN YOUTH VOLUNTEER CORPS (AU-YVC)
The African Union Youth Volunteer Corp (AU-YVC) is a continental development program that recruits and works with young professionals to work as volunteers from across Africa and the Diaspora. It brings young people together to share skills, knowledge, and innovation to build a more integrated continent and strengthen Africa’s position in the globalized world. The AU-YVC concept is in line with the African Youth Charter, as well as the Decision of the AU Summit in Assembly/AU/Dec.274(XVI) January 2010, Decision EX.CL/Dec. 566(XVII), February 2009 and Decision EX.CL 292 (IX), July 2006. .
The AUC seeks to promote the establishment and harmonization of youth volunteer initiatives and schemes at Member State, Regional Economic Community and Continental levels. In line with the AU’s vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent, volunteer schemes at national levels need to feed into sub-regional programs, which in turn feed into continental initiatives. AU-YVC was officially launched on the 3rd of December 2010 in Abuja, Nigeria, in the presence of H.E the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ministers of Youth from across Africa, high level AU officials, partners, volunteer organizations and Africa’s young people at large. Since its launch, the AU-YVC has recruited and trained 200 young professionals and deployed more than 115 professionals to various Member States. Deployment consists of the following major sub-processes: Application, Sorting and Selection, Training and Deployment. Since its launch, five AU-YVC trainings have been organized.
H.E the Commissioner for HRST Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga and Acting Head of the Youth Division Dr. Beatrice Njenga with the 5th Batch of African Union Youth Volunteers
8. AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION (AUC) AND UNITED NATIONS VOLUNTEERS (UNV)
The AUC Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr Martial De-Paul Ikounga (left), and UNV Executive Coordinator, Richard Dictus, sign a project document on enhancing the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps for peace and development in Africa.
On the 30th of September 2014, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) signed a project document on enhancing the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps for peace and development in Africa. The project is based on a previous understanding in which both organizations committed themselves to harmonizing efforts to promote volunteering as a catalyst for advancing socio-economic development. The project specifically focuses on enhancing the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC) to efficiently respond to the developmental needs in skilled labour on the African continent. It also aims to support Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and African Union Member States in developing an understanding of volunteerism as a socio-economic resource for the development of the continent, and work to strengthen and harness this resource. As a result, the AU-YVC is expected to boost its capacity to deploy more volunteers as well as provide technical assistance to Member States and RECs in setting up their volunteer initiatives.