EU Invests E557 million towards Eswatini Youth and Civil Society Organizations

By Phiwa Sikhondze

The European Union (EU) has donated £27 million (E557 million) to the Kingdom of Eswatini as part of the EU’s Multi-Indicative Programme (MIP) for Eswatini for the period 2021-2027.

The MIP for Eswatini focuses on market-driven vocational education and training (TVET) and the empowerment of disadvantaged youth and women in vulnerable situations.

The gesture is based on an extensive and inclusive consultation process and aims to improve access to formal and non-formal education and the quality and relevance of the TVET system in close partnership with the private sector and civil society organisations (CSOs).

When making her remarks, EU Ambassador, Dessislava Choumelova, highlighted the EU’s commitment to transforming lives through education, as the EU and its 27 Member States are the single largest global investor in education, representing 55% of Official Development Assistance education grants globally.

She also stressed the importance of investing in education as an essential strategy in pursuit of peace, prosperity and the wellbeing of people and the planet, in achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“I always remind the youth that the most precious asset they have is their education and skills. It is the only possession that no one can take away. Education is the smartest, most powerful investment in our future, a cornerstone to economic and social development and its transformational power is the strongest social equalizer,” she said.

She further revealed the action plan for 2023 which focuses on empowering the disadvantaged youth and women via skills, income generation and employment, and promoting a holistic approach to empower vulnerable groups among youth, including school drop-outs, teachers, people with disability, and victims of gender-based violence (GBV).

“The first component of the action will support capacity building and facilitate public-private collaboration and in particular focus on strengthening the capacity of  TVET providers and private sector organizations to offer inclusive and quality training in priority growth sectors such as the agri-food sector, hospitality and tourism, renewable energy, manufacturing, ICT and the creative industries. By strengthening the TVET system within Eswatini economic opportunities would be unlocked and enabling the successful and inclusive transition of young people into the labour market,” she said.

“It will include school – dropouts and their reintegration, support to teachers, linking informal/non-formal and formal education, raising GBV awareness and prevention, providing mental health support, and social inclusion of people with disability. Also important will be the empowerment of these groups, with an attention to women, supporting their economic opportunities through training, mentoring and funds,” she added.

Choumelova added that the action will be building on previous and ongoing programmes (EU and non-EU) in collaboration with local authorities and CSOs, to have a bigger impact and sustainability.

She concluded by saying that the next phase of the partnership with Eswatini will reflect both the country’s national priorities as well as the EU’s priorities, values and interests and that the EU’s wish is to see young people and women in Eswatini empowered to build a better future for themselves and the country.

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