The project aims to support youth inclusion in Bukedea District in Eastern Uganda and to foster democratic reforms and youth civic engagement. The project will build the capacities of youth centers, youth community organizations as well as schools. Via an inclusive approach, young women and men will gain competencies necessary for their pro-active involvement in social and decision-making processes. Volunteerism will be promoted and practiced as a tool for achieving local development goals, particularly those identified by youth. Capacities of volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations will be strengthened.
The project will address the issue of youth inclusion, a new concept for Bukedea Secondary Schools, with the introduction of innovative approaches such as: using volunteerism as a tool for achieving local development goals; bridging the gap between young people from rural and urban areas; introducing ICT as a tool for youth social activism; creating an environment for social community projects for learning; and fostering inter-generational dialogue. A particular emphasis will be placed on working with marginalized, socially-excluded young women and men who, due to geographic, economic, gender and/or cultural barriers, are disadvantaged in today’s Bukedea society. The project will empower young women and men and increase both the number of volunteers as well as the number of meaningful volunteerism opportunities in rural and urban communities throughout Bukedea District.
The process of transition in Uganda has presented challenges, opportunities and new roles for the youth of Bukedea. It has also exposed development-related pressures and problems that previously were not so acute or did not exist. Youth in Bukedea amount to nearly 11 million individuals, of whom about 30% reside in urban areas and 70% in rural areas. Youth hold the key to the demographic, social-economic, political and cultural progress of Uganda. The degree of satisfaction with existing opportunities for personal and professional development directly influences the behavior and expectations of young women and men. In turn, their potential to reach an acceptable quality of life – materially, healthily and behaviorally – is greatly diminished. Due to limited opportunities, youth are often turning to other, less constructive, alternatives.
Within the interventions the following are the major challenges are still faced by the youth in Bukedea:
1. Lack of competencies in organizational management/schools, volunteer management, financial management and gender inclusiveness of Youth Centers and volunteer-involving organizations.
2. Underdeveloped social competencies and skills in young women and men to actively engage in shaping their own and society’s future.
3. Lack of ICT skills, ICT usage models as well as access to information and education, including on-line learning through up-to-date information and communication resources.
4. Lack of social solidarity between youth and elderly generations, leading to a breakdown in community.
5. Insufficient understanding of the beneficial role of volunteerism among local community members and young people specifically.
6. Insufficient understanding and lack of capacity in governmental, private and non-governmental organizations to effectively utilize volunteers.