13 July 2020

Five reasons nurturing youth skills is important for cocoa communities

The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) works to ensure cocoa communities can thrive and protect their children from the hazards of child labour. Through community development and Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS), ICI works with its partners to help young adults into apprenticeships. To mark World Youth Skills Day, we’re sharing five ways that nurturing youth skills can help tackle child labour.

Offering opportunities beyond cocoa

Mariam, a young girl from Petit Guiglo in Cote d’Ivoire, did not see a future for herself in cocoa farming. She wanted to learn and do something else. Enrolled in an apprenticeship with a tailor, she developed a passion for her work. This opened up other opportunities in her eyes and she dedicated herself to learning with the hope of one day being able to work for herself. In a similar way that offering alternative livelihoods to farming families is important, providing these opportunities to children can help them to provide support their families in the future.

Protecting children from harmful situations

Birago Augustina began working for her mother’s friend with the promise of learning to become a hairdresser. Instead she was forced to beg on the street. When she returned home she began working on her family’s farm. The local Community Child Protection Committee helped her into an apprenticeship programme to begin learning to be a hairdresser as she had always wanted. “I had no skills when I was staying at home,” she explains. “Now I know how to braid and style hair and fix weave-ons. I have come to realise how lucrative the hairstyling profession can be.”

Providing support to out of school children

Young adults who do not attend school are often at greater risk of becoming involved in hazardous child labour. Many cocoa-growing families do not have the means to send their children to school. Many older children may also not want to continue studying. Providing opportunities for out of school children is crucial if they are to be protected from engaging in hazardous work. Leticia, a young girl from Duekoué, struggled in school and her mother explains that it was not right for her. She enrolled as an apprentice mechanic, offering her an alternative to working on her family’s farm.

Inspiring role models for other children

“My goal is to learn to sew very well,” says Shaibu Abubakar, from Afriseni Camp in Ghana. “So that I can make a living out of it and also take care of my family.” But he also has other ambitions. He hopes to one day become a master of his trade and use his skills to teach others in his community. By introducing young adults to new skills they can become role models for others their age, and other families. This can in turn help to create empowered communities who are protective of their children and their futures.

Shaibu (front left) with his fellow apprentices in 2019.

Realising aspirations

In 2017, Maria Sawadogo from the community of Zatta dreamed of becoming a hairdresser with her own shop, her own tools, her own clients. After taking part in training with a professional hair dresser, she was able learn the tricks of the trade and launch herself into her new profession only two years later. Her success enabled her to begin working for herself, as she set out to do.

Maria perfecting her skills in her chosen trade.

Over the past five years ICI has learned from what works through implementing our Community Development Programme and the CLMRS. These programmes have benefitted over 380,000 children since 2015. In the months and years ahead, we will be focusing on scaling this impact up with our partners to reach even more children and cocoa communities. Find out more in our 2019 annual report or watch a short film on the impact of apprenticeships in Ghana.

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