By Njemo Naomi
Youthkonnect is a Cameroonian youth-based SDG4 initiative designed to empower youth through education on global citizenship and sustainable development by creating a society with enhanced economic growth and social well-being. We strongly believe in transformational education as a means to achieve sustainable development.
Cameroon is home to over 27.22 million inhabitants as of recent statistics in 2021; however, due to the upsurge created by the Anglophone crisis in 2017, over 855,000 children in the affected regions have been deprived of education according to recent statistics pulled by UNICEF. This has led to an increased vandalism rate amongst youths, minimal engagement in community development, an unsafe environment masked with insecurity, and an increased infantile death rate. Accessibility to “quality “ education in these affected regions became a far-fetched dream.
Just when our community was almost recovered from the crisis, we were hit yet again by the most dreaded global pandemic— COVID-19—which caused schools to be shut down for months, further breaking the bridge towards education.
Youthkonnect came in as a response on how to bridge this existing gap and to provide a “safe learning space” where youths remain informed, educated, trained, and engaged in innovative thinking to rebuild our community. At YouthKonnect, our passion is to serve youths through virtual leadership-oriented development education with the right knowledge and skills to create the Africa we want.
The SDG Academy helped provide me with clarity on how to further impact my community through the course “Transforming our world.” Our flagship programs include: The Next Elites, YouthLevel Up, and the Global Citizenship and Sustainable Leadership seminar. We were inspired to begin a Global Citizenship and Education hub to inspire and train youth volunteers in our local community, in partnership with other local organizations. We have been able to create solid partnerships at local levels to impact and revolutionize our community. Thanks to this program, we were able to partner with the Ninitemban Foundation to mobilize over 50 local organizations and 300 volunteers in the first edition of the National Volunteers Conference.
All our programmes focus on achieving SDG Target 4.7 by supporting youth in making smart decisions and choices in the 21st-century economy. We virtually educate them on the right career choices, financial freedom, leadership, and educational development. Each year, we train over 50 youth in local communities. So far, we have partnered with 10 local organizations to have a wider influence and create more impact.
We also funded mentorship opportunities to youths in our communities through our Next Elites programme in partnership with other African youth organizations. Through this initiative, YouthKonnect has adopted a design thinking approach to provide SDG education to over 300 local youths to date. Additionally, we have proposed the introduction of the SDGs into some local school curricula, provided blueprints and virtual idea conferences, and inspired a community of aspiring leaders who are committed to their civic responsibilities. Through our programs, we have been able to successfully expose youths to how to make informed decisions and advocate for the Goals. This has allowed them to serve their communities and inspire other youths to action. Our long-term goal is to reach 3,000 youths in local communities by 2025.
Naomi is an SDG4 enthusiast and works in the education development sector as an education administrator. She is passionate about providing transformational education to empower the youth of her community to harness relevant leadership and provide sustainable solutions. She believes that youth education stands as the bedrock to any community’s development. She is the Founder of the Youthkonnect initiative which is aimed at providing transformational education on Global citizenship and sustainable development. She is actively seeking to revolutionize the educational landscape in her community through collective efforts to propose the introduction of the SDGs in local school curricula and virtually train young proactive leaders. So far, through her initiative, 300 youths have been mentored on sustainable leadership thanks to the flagship programmes: YouthLevel Up, the global citizenship, the sustainable leadership seminar, and the Next Elites.