The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is one of the foremost regional economic communities (RECs) championing for peace, stability and sustainable development in Africa. IGAD has used all available platforms to build peace, prevent and resolve conflicts and support its member states in reconciliation processes, post-conflict reconstruction, good governance, and transition towards democracy.
A very large portion of the population is the IGAD region is youth under the age of 25.
Education in general and skills development in particular are seen as important interventions in fostering durable peace, gainful employment and socioeconomic transformation in the region.
This is one of the reason why IGAD adopted a regional education policy framework that aspires to promote quality, relevant, affordable, accessible and inclusive education in the region. This policy framework emanated from the Djibouti Declaration on Education for Refugees, Returnees and Host Communities adopted by IGAD ministers in charge of education in line with the commitments made by the IGAD Heads of State and Government under the Nairobi Declaration in 2017.
Since then, IGAD has been implementing a number of projects and initiatives in the education sector. One of this is a regional scholarship scheme launched by the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, during the First IGAD Universities’ Forum held in Jigjiga, Ethiopia, on 5-6 April 2021.
The rationale behind the IGAD scholarship scheme is to facilitate inclusive access to scholarship among the youth in displacement and refugee situations, since higher education and skills development opportunities are extremely inaccessible for this category of people. Moreover, IGAD considers scholarship for young people as a cornerstone of regional integration, people-to-people interaction and mutual understanding; all of which are building blocks for peace and stability in the region and beyond.
IGAD will continue to work with a wide-range of bilateral and multilateral partners to ensure equitable access to education and to inculcate the spirit of solidarity and fraternity among the youth so that they will continue to play constructive roles in society.
Another aspect of IGAD promoting Youth for the wider agenda of peace and prosperity for the IGAD region, the IGAD Peace and Security Division launched the IGAD Youth Forum for Peace on April 29, 2021 in Entebbe, Uganda in the presence of the IGAD Executive Secretary, Minister of State for Youth of Republic of Uganda, representatives of National Youth Associations and Youth Ministries of IGAD member states.
The IGAD Youth Forum for Peace is a regional platform to give youth an opportunity to express their ideas, opinions, and needs to decision makers, and mobilise the youth community for peace at national and regional level. The regional platform will create opportunity for the youth of the region to play their role for durable and sustainable peace. The initiative aims at inspiring young people to be change makers and to take responsibility to make a difference in their community. It will also encourage the youth to commit personal responsibility in their respective countries in promoting, peace building, social cohesion and actualisation of respective development agenda. The forum will be instrumental to link the policy space and the voice of the youth, and to mobilise the Youth for peace, security and stability in the region.
The forum is expected to provide the institutionalised platforms for deliberations and communications to enhance understanding of youth’s aspiration, priorities and concerns, and shared values. It will also serve as a platform for youth to engage with IGAD and the Member States on regional peace and security agenda and enable to enhance a better understanding of how the youth can contribute to peace in the region. The next step will be operationalising of the Forum mainly in developing institutional instruments and training of selected youth leaders of the Region. IGAD will also appoint IGAD Youth Envoys in collaboration with member states’ relevant institutions.
Kebede Kassa Tsegaye, PhD
Senior Program Coordinator
Education, Science, Technology and Innovation
Political Affairs Programme