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Plan International Australia has been supporting a Youth Economic Empowerment program (YEE) with Plan International Sri Lanka since 2014. The project is currently entering a third phase, from July 2019 – June 2021.
Employers in Sri Lanka are recognizing a critical skills mismatch between competencies of entry level workers and the competencies required in the work place. One out of five youth (15–24 years) is unemployed, and the youth unemployment rate is five times higher than the overall unemployment rate in 2016.
Comparison of annual data from the last few years show that women enrolment in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is decreasing.
The underlying reasons for lower female TVET completion rates, and significantly higher levels of unemployment for women include:
This project aims is to empower 2,505 young people, especially young women, to reach their full education and career potential in Mullative district of Northern Province in Sri Lanka.
By actively engaging the community at the secondary school level this project will promote young women’s empowerment and enrolment in public TVET courses of their choice. It will also promote the benefits of enabling young women to reach their full potential in making informed and supported choices about their education and training post-secondary school. This will enable their access to government-funded public TVET education which all young people are entitled to receive in Sri Lanka.
Over the course of the 24-month funding period, through community engagement and training of school teachers, school principals and committee members, the project is creating a supportive, empowering environment for future female students to follow in the footsteps of their peers.
Specifically the project will work to overcome some of the underlying barriers which are preventing young women and marginalized young men from enrolling in, and completing their vocational training. The project will:
The contribution from the Footprints Network can provide support in the following ways:
The project will conduct awareness raising campaigns in target communities, working with parents and community members to promote the positive benefits of TVET courses. The campaign will also target fathers and community leaders, who are often the key decision-makers in the household and community, and can therefore act either as gate-keepers or champions for young women’s empowerment. By targeting fathers and male leaders, the campaign will seek to build a groundswell of male champions for women’s empowerment, and a sense of pride within the community for driving positive changes in the lives of young women living in their communities.
School principals and teachers will be engaged with to raise awareness about the project, its objectives and explain the project approach within schools. Plan will provide training to teachers, principals and school development committee’s on effective career counselling for their school students.
The project will also work with schools/TVET Centres to promote public TVET amongst students in their final years of schooling. Where possible, students will also be supported to participate in an exposure visit to public TVET centres, or as an alternative, Plan will organize a ‘TVET fair’, in which students can be supported to speak with and learn about the courses on offer in the district provided by the public TVET centres.
This project is part of Plan's larger strategy to demonstrate inclusive access of public TVET services to government stakeholders.
The government of Sri Lanka has prioritized increased youth access to public TVET, as a core component of their education and training policy, with public TVET funded through their high profile ‘Skills Sector Enhancement Program’. Whilst the government funding to TVET centres is a very welcome and positive development in Sri Lanka, the underlying factors which prevent young women and students from poor and marginalized households from accessing public TVET are not directly addressed at a government policy or service delivery level, resulting in inequitable access to TVET.
This project will seek to demonstrate low-cost and effective strategies at the high school and community level, which can enable increased access and inclusion of poor, marginalized young women and men, in the public TVET system.
The project also contributes to objective of The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Aid Investment Plan (AIP) in Sri Lanka to expand economic opportunities for the poor. By empowering young people especially young women to follow TVET will open avenues to increase their income by engaging in prospective gender equality. There will be an emphasis on targeting women and young women and addressing their barriers to participation in TVET through both 'principle' and 'significant' gender.