National Youth Service in Sub-Saharan Africa

National Youth Service (NYS) in Sub-Saharan Africa

Strengthening NYS as a strategy for youth employability, entrepreneurship, and sustainable livelihoods in the region

Program Overview

In November 2012, ICP joined forces with The MasterCard Foundation and Volunteer Service Enquiry Southern Africa (VOSESA) to undertake a year-long research study to assess how National Youth Service (NYS) programs in Sub-Saharan Africa can better prepare young people for the workforce. The study serves as a resource on how NYS programs can be designed as a youth development and employment tool, build a network of NYS staff, policy makers and practitioners focused on youth employment, and provides recommendations for private sector engagement.

This project stems from an existing tradition of NYS programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, which were originally designed to cultivate a sense of national identity and mobilize skills for development in post-independence nations. Today, NYS programs operate in the context of a deepening regional youth unemployment crisis, which averages over 20 percent, according to African Economic Outlook. NYS programs engage hundreds of thousands of young people each year and have the potential to equip them with strong civic skills and prepare them for employment and livelihood opportunities. Despite its potential as an economic strategy, little is still known about how effective NYS programs are at increasing youth employability.

This report, for the first time, sheds light on the prevailing role and potential for NYS programs in Sub-Saharan Africa to foster youth employability, entrepreneurship, and sustainable livelihoods.ICP also completed three in-depth case studies will focus on NYS programs in Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana. These findings were presented at the National Youth Service Learning Forum in South Africa held November 25-26, 2013. The Learning Forum was sponsored by The MasterCard Foundation and the National Treasury and Jobs Fund of the Republic of South Africa. The Forum wasco-hosted by Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) and Volunteer and Service Enquiry Southern Africa (VOSESA).

Resources

Overview of the National Youth Service Landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa 

National Youth Service Project on Employability, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa: Synthesis Report 

National Youth Service Project on Employability, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa: Synthesis Report (FRENCH)*

*Translated through the assistance of United Nations Volunteers by Patrice Brizard and Marianne de Taeye

This report is the culmination of the National Youth Service Learning Forum, held in Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2013. The report is the result of the joint efforts of ICP and VOSESA, and summarizes the program’s research on the benefits of national youth service on youth employability in Sub- Saharan Africa. In addition, it provides insight on how to strengthen NYS programs in in the region for the future.

  • Case-studies of NYS program design and implementation in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa:

                    Kenya (796 Kb)
                    Ghana (875 Kb)
                    South Africa (682 Kb)

Measuring the Impact of Youth Voluntary Service Programs (2009) (1.74 Mb)
This report, prepared from a youth service experts meeting held at the World Bank in 2008, discusses the methodologies used to measure the impact of youth service programs.

Partners

The MasterCard FoundationThe MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 49 developing countries (as of August 2012), it is creating pathways out of poverty for people—particularly young people—by expanding access to learning, employment, entrepreneurship, and financial services. It is an independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada.

VOSESA Volunteer and Service Enquiry Southern Africa Volunteer and Service Enquiry Southern Africa (VOSESA) was founded in 2003 to support the growth of knowledge about civic service and volunteering in Southern Africa through research, publishing and evidence-based advocacy. Currently, VOSESA is working in partnership with ICP on a research study on National Youth Service in Sub-Saharan Africa. Learn more about VOSESA >