The Sustainable Development Goals in The Gambia
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth's environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in The Gambia. The Resident Coordinator leads the UN Country Team (UNCT) and ensures that the UN agencies support the national development priorities through three UNDAF outcome areas. These are: (i) Governance, Economic Management and Human Rights supporting initiatives aimed at strengthening national institutions responsible for economic and financial management and oversee reforms to guarantee people their human rights; (ii) Human capital development supporting access to education and health care services, improving equitable quality and access to water, sanitation and hygiene, social protection and gender and youth empowerment; and (iii) Sustainable agriculture, natural resources, environment and climate change management covering agricultural production and productivity, food and nutrition security, environmental management, mainstream climate change in environment and disaster risk management. The UN Country Team coordinate their work through joint Work Plans.
24 November 2020
The world needs solidarity. Join #UN75
The UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. Will we emerge stronger and better equipped to work together? Or will distrust and isolation grow further?
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03 February 2022
A new social contract for education to address the youth unemployment crisis in Africa
Besides being a fundamental right for each human being as enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, quality education boosts youth employment, reduces inequalities, closes the gender gap, promotes well-being, and contributes to sustainable development. Still, millions of people around the world do not have access to quality education and are facing poverty, violence, and other forms of exploitation and abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the closures of many educational institutions and programmes exacerbated the situation. As Africa commemorated the fourth International Day of Education on 24 January, under the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education”, the lack of quality education in many African countries continues to contribute to the continent’s high rates of youth unemployment. This scourge is impacting the optimistic “Africa Rising” narrative and undermines progress towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An urgent need to turn the tide by fulfilling international commitments on education In 2012, the African Union (AU) set a goal of reducing youth and women unemployment on the continent by 2% annually between 2012 and 2022. In essence, AU member countries committed to creating 8 million new jobs annually during the next decade. This year marks the end of that decade, and little has changed on the ground. Indeed, according to the International Labour Organization's 2019 World Employment and Social Outlook Trends report, Africa continues to have the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world. Data from the Afrobarometer Network – a partnership platform bringing together researchers surveying democracy, governance, and society – as well as UNESCO appears to similarly suggest that a significant number of young people in the region do not have the same opportunity to complete their education and/or get a decent job, particularly women and girls in rural areas. Promoting quality education as a pillar of sustainable, just, and peaceful societies Education provides the key for young people to enter the labor market and become financially independent while contributing to their personal well being and that of their communities as a whole. As a 2011 study of WHO global maternal and perinatal health data, for example, shows, there could be a correlation between the level of education that a woman achieves and her risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes. Promoting education has therefore the potential to be an effective tool for catalyzing social and economic change in Africa. And several UN programmes in the continent focus on boosting access to quality education, including what UNICEF does in Mozambique on primary schools and a UNHCR initiative that supports refugees in Tanzania. Activities that provide access to quality education can also be leveraged to provide support on other issues, such as food security. That is the case for initiatives to provide healthy and nutritious meals to primary school children. The way forward: Pathways to success A new social contract that addresses the on-going education crisis is essential to move forward. This vision is outlined in the 2021 UNESCO report on the Futures of Education and echoed by the call of UNESCO’s Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, on the occasion of this year’s International Day of Education: ''Glaring inequalities, a damaged planet, growing polarization and the devastating impact of the pandemic present us with a generational choice: continue on an unsustainable path or radically change course. […] If we are to transform the future, if we are to change course, we must rethink education. This means forging a new social contract for education […].” In Africa, this new social contract should focus on boosting collaboration between Government, UN teams, non-governmental organizations and other development partners to prioritise urgent investments towards providing access to high-quality education for all. Actions should target key groups, including people living in remote areas, underprivileged neighbourhoods, communities speaking indigenous languages and other vulnerable population. We should also encourage youth-led initiatives to facilitate access to learning resources, including volunteering and cost-sharing. Addressing the education challenges hampering Africa’s development can no longer wait. The UN should continue to lead the way, with country teams in the region re-affirming our commitment to supporting Africa as the continent mobilizes a whole-of-society approach to “change course” and “transform education” to make it accessible for all. Young people must be empowered to lead the charge towards a future that is sustainable, prosperous, and equitable – a future that leaves no one behind. Written by George Lwanda, Senior Development Coordination Officer and Team Leader, Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in The Gambia. Editorial support provided by the Development Coordination Office (DCO) team. For more information on the United Nations’ work in the Gambia, please visit Gambia.UN.org.
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