In Kenya, youth ages 15-24 make up 20% of the total population, above the world’s average of 15.8%. Out of an estimated total of 10 million youth, it is estimated that 2.5 million are unemployed, and only five percent enter the formal labor market each year. Unemployment then becomes a critical enabler to the cycle of poverty, social vulnerability and risk especially prone to youth.
In the year immediately following high school graduation where young people await their examination results and subsequent eligibility for continuing education, there is an increased likelihood for them being lured into high risk activities, unhealthy relationships or similar which can easily compromise their futures. To further accentuate the long term implications of such high-risk coping mechanisms, Kenya has been raked as the third highest country for new HIV-infections among young people in the East and Central African regions combined. Currently in Kenya, there are no mechanisms in the formal education system to engage youth during this formative stage that affects the rest of their adult lives.
Furthermore, where lower academic performance in High School closes out the possibility for higher education via scholarships or government loan programs which guarantee continuity of schooling, already disadvantaged youth are left with no other alternative but to turn to these risky coping mechanisms as their only tangible means for survival.
Still, these vulnerable youth are valuable lives and the future of the country. They are deserving of opportunities to thrive, succeed and contribute positively to the communities they live in. Still to date there have been limited opportunities to meet the sheer volume of demand providing options to steer youth in a positive direction and remain active contributors to their communities and society as a whole.