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Young people

Young people


UNFPA Sierra Leone’s key interventions to empower adolescents and young people cover a range of services that include providing life skills to young people, youth-friendly health services and safe spaces and girls’ clubs. These measures are designed to support livelihoods and develop capacity, as well as to build personal knowledge and social environments that promote good health and personal safety.

Sierra Leone has a population of 7,092,113, of which approximately 2.7 million are youth aged 15−35 years. According to the Sierra Leone Labour Force Survey,[1] the unemployment rate is higher among youth than those aged 35 and above. A lack of skills and experience is cited as one of the main reasons for the high youth unemployment rate.

As a measure to reduce the high youth unemployment rate in the country, UNFPA supported the Ministry of Youth Affairs in implementing the National Youth Scheme. This scheme was designed to equip young graduates with the necessary skills and work experience to make them attractive to employers. UNFPA supported the launch of the National Youth Scheme which was officially launched by the Vice President in September 2018.

National Youth Service

The National Youth Service Scheme deploys a select number of volunteer service corps to different organisations for one year to build their skills and knowledge. While serving and supporting the different organisations, the volunteer service corps also undertakes community service such as conducting health advocacy and campaigns in the localities where they reside.  During their one-year service, the volunteer service corps benefit from trainings that build their skills and make them self-reliant and employable. In 2019, UNFPA supported the orientation of 371 service corps through training in life skills, sexual and reproductive health, gender and GBV response and prevention to support them in carrying out their community service.

Supporting out-of-school adolescent girls

In 2019, UNFPA continued to implement the Girls Access to Education and Services (GATES) project with financial support from Irish Aid. The GATES Project focused on addressing the needs of out-of-school adolescent girls participating in community learning centres across the country, supported by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. It targeted in-school adolescents to prevent dropouts due to teenage pregnancy. To implement the project, UNFPA collaborated with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, the MoHS, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and two NGOs, the Fambul Initiative Network for Equality (FINE)  and Rainbo Initiative. The GATES Project was launched in September 2018 and ended in November 2019.

In 2019, the GATES project achieved the following:

  • 1,760 out-of-school girls were reached with life skills, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and GBV prevention and response information in 40 community learning centres;
  • 1,165 girls were provided with back-to-school kits and supported for re-entry into the formal education system;
  • 61,760 students in 196 schools were reached with SRHR and GBV  prevention and response information, and referrals where required;
  • 4 community learning centres were rehabilitated and 10 centres provided with additional seating accommodation;
  • Over 10,000 people were reached through student-led GBV and comprehensive sexuality education awareness-raising events completed in six districts;
  • Ninety-two newly appointed guidance and counselling teachers received induction and good practices training;
  • 60 guidance and counselling teachers in Port Loko and Tonkolili districts participated in GBV prevention and referral training;
  • 93 healthcare workers were trained in clinical management of sexual assault;
  • 24 communities were reached with outreach sensitization sessions on GBV and referral pathways to create demand for the Rainbo Initiative services in Bo and Makeni districts;
  • 505 survivors of GBV accessed medical and psychosocial support services. One hundred and nine survivors were supported with access to justice, of which 26 cases were successfully prosecuted;
  • 2,155 men, boys and community stakeholders were engaged in building positive gender perspectives and promoting positive messages on SRHR and GBV within their communities;
  • 4,615 adolescents were engaged in community awareness-raising of GBV prevention and response through events lead by boys’ clubs supported by FINE SL;
  • 2,158 female caregivers were engaged to build support for adolescent well-being through 40 mothers’ clubs.

Integrating comprehensive sexuality education


In June 2019, UNFPA with funding from Irish Aid, worked with Marie Stopes Sierra Leone to support the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education in reviewing the 2015 basic education curriculum using the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Sexuality Education Review and Assessment Tool. UNFPA supported a number of multi-stakeholder workshops and field consultations to collaboratively assess the strengths and gaps within curricula, institutions, and legal and policy frameworks. As a result, a report on the integration of comprehensive sexuality education in primary and junior secondary schools was produced.

In December 2019, UNFPA seized the opportunity of the establishment of the Sexual Reproductive Health Taskforce in December 2019 to spearhead the integration of comprehensive sexuality education into the primary and junior secondary school curriculum. The Sexual Reproductive Health Taskforce – co-chaired by the Chief Education Officer of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and the UNFPA Sierra Leone Country Representative – is made up of a selected group of education practitioners, donors, partners, civil society, local council, religious and community leaders. The Taskforce was established to identify bottlenecks that restricted girls’ access to education, establish a curriculum for comprehensive sexuality education, and harmonise the disparate, ongoing activities of the various partners under a single umbrella for girls’ rights.

[1]. Margolis, David , Nina Rosas, Abubakarr Turay, and Samuel Turay, Findings from the 2014 Labour Force Survey in Sierra Leone, World Bank Group, Washington, D.C., 2016, <>, accessed 14 June 2017.