JA Africa is honored to be a 2019 recipient of the UN King Hamad Prize for Youth Enablers in Achievement of the SDGs. This Global award comes as an expression of the firm faith His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain has in young people’s potential to lead their countries and the world. The vision is for youth contributions towards a better shared future of peace and prosperity for all people on a healthy and renewable planet envisioned by the world’s most ambitious plan to transform the world – The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This award is a reassuring reminder that JA Africa’s mission to empower young people is important and still relevant. The youth are the future and empowering them is key to building a solid foundation for that future. The award recognizes the hard work of the 15 country offices where JA works in Africa and the achievements of JA Africa’s students and Alumni.
JA Africa’s contribution to the SDGs seeks primarily to substantially increase the number of youth who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. JA works through government education ministries and schools, in collaboration with almost 3,000 professionals across Africa who volunteer from the private sector to provide experiences, mentorship and coaching to youth to bridge the gap between education and work.
JA’s efforts seek to firstly address the reality that Africa’s economies are not creating as many jobs as we are graduating youth from schools and secondly bridge the skills gap that exists where between demand and supply for the jobs that do exist in the marketplace.
The innovativeness in JA’s approach lies in the fact that 1) Our approach focuses on experiential learning, rather than theory, so that young people gain real hands-on understanding of what it takes to succeed in the workplace and 2) delivery of learning relies primarily on experienced professional volunteering in Africa’s classrooms to teach students drawing from real-world experience.
For JA Africa, the Award is a testament of the relevance of its mission on the African continent. It endorses the efforts of JA Africa staff for the incremental inroads made towards expanding JA Africa’s visibility and brand for its stakeholders. It affirms the organization as a thought and impact leader for youth skills development in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness. The Award is also a reflection of JA’s response to the needs and challenges of the African youth by providing essential opportunities in areas of start-ups, financial education, career development, mentoring, education and leadership, among others.
Working with like-minded partners and donors, JA Africa graduates 240,000 African youth every year. These students graduate with the skills and mindset of change makers.
As the challenges of youth unemployment and the skills gap continues to grow on the continent, there is a great need to expand JA programs to reach more young Africans. Youth potential can be harnessed if they are given the exposure, education and empowerment they need to succeed in the 21st century.