Many children and adolescents in Niger have no access to education. They often grow up in poverty and within communities marked by insecurity. With its alternative youth education programme, Swisscontact is building an educational programme in collaboration with Swiss NGO Enfants du Monde, which is helping young girls and boys aged 9 to 14 to acquire basic skills. They will use these skills to integrate more effectively into society and as a stepping stone to an eventual vocational education. The educational facilities also include a workshop that helps these children to learn basic technical skills.
The Centres for Alternative Youth Education (centres d’éducation alternative des jeunes, or CCEAJ) that the delegation visited take in children from local municipalities, and in at least one case from a nearby refugee camp as well. The objective is to strengthen the resilience of refugees, who are mostly victims of violence, and promote their societal integration.
The regional authorities have lauded the achievements of Swiss development cooperation. They also highlighted the great challenges the region faces, particularly in regards to scholastic and vocational education, as well as young people’s socio-economic integration.
In response to the matters presented, President Cassis emphasised how the schools are a good example of the perfect interconnection of schooling, vocational instruction, and socioeconomic integration. Furthermore, through the successful integration of refugees into professional life and society, they exemplify the link between education, peace, and development. According to Cassis, it is successful projects such as this one that have strengthened Switzerland’s commitment to the people of Niger in various fields since 1978. The visit to the various facilities and dialogue with beneficiaries helped the delegation to gain understanding of the importance and effectiveness of project activities.