The VAD Foundation program will provide vocational training along with S.T.E.M. and business classes to 200 young adults over the course of 3 years from September 2016 to November 2018. Each individual enrolled in the program will be paired with a mentor in a specific field to gain a technical skill through the course of the program. The enrolled students will receive sustainable agricultural training; complete a financial literacy course, and a micro-enterprise business course. Program participants will be supported through developing an individualized plan for their stipend that will be issued after program completion. After a program participant completes their training, they will receive a $300 stipend and be placed in a job with a partner organization or create their own micro-enterprise in the area where they have gained training and developed a financial plan.
The VAD Foundation will construct a green building with solar power that will serve as the facility for the training program and also a community center on weekends creating 12 permanent and 250 temporary jobs. The program will pair students with mentors, instructors, and masters within specific fields that will benefit the community at large. They will create small enterprises and address needs like creating sustainable local food sources, renewable energy, and manufacturing items that are needed by the community, using local resources, such as soap, chalk, and candles.
Students in the vocational training program will learn sustainable agriculture skills including irrigation and water conservation from rainy to dry seasons, crop rotation, and pairing animal husbandry and soil nutrition. They will also learn solar installation and maintenance through the existing and growing solar grid at Marial Bai Secondary School, in addition to new projects. This will be of great benefit as electrical engineers and technicians in the solar field have great employment potential throughout the region. Additional S.T.E.M. training will be given and will train students how to manufacture personal hygiene products from local resources.
Northern Bahr el Ghazal, the South Sudanese state where the VAD Foundation project will take place, struggles with ongoing food insecurity and unreliable access to electricity which is mostly provided by gas generators throughout the region. The geography of Northern Bahr el Ghazal makes it a perfect candidate for large-scale farming and solar power. All the vocational training fields are areas of great potential growth in the region due to its immediate needs.
However, ongoing political conflict within the country serves as a major challenge in implementing this commitment. Halted infrastructure development, displaced persons, and rising costs and risks of transporting supplies and individuals all caused by the current conflict have been planned for. The VAD Foundation believes it has set a reasonable commitment with the current political conflict in mind, but a resolution would expedite and perhaps widen the reach of the programs impact.
Vocational training in South Sudan through the Northern Bahr el Ghazal Employment Initiative will begin in February 2016 and be completed in November 2018. Plans for a pilot program and preliminary internships will begin with less than 25 students in October 2015. These students will help to create partnerships with local companies and find where the most successful apprenticeships can be fostered. The first class of 50 students will enroll at the beginning of next year to participate in at least 6 months of vocational training, business management classes, and community leadership programs that address pressing local problems and fill a void in the local market. The following 6 months will scale appropriately based on interest and meeting the goal of 200 young adults receiving job skills related to sustainable food sources, renewable energy, and developing use of local materials to wane dependence on imported items.
October 2015 - Pilot program of 25 students paired with internships and recruited to participate in construction field training. Begin building classroom facility and workshops.
January 2016 - Complete training facility building, end and evaluate pilot program.
February 2016 - July 2016 - First class of 50 trainees paired with mentors and enrolled in field specific job training along with general STEM Education and business classes.
August 2016 - January 2017- Second class of 50 trainees paired with mentors and enrolled in field specific job training along with general STEM Education and business classes.
February 2017 - November 2017 - Third class of 50 trainees paired with mentors and enrolled in field specific job training along with general STEM Education and business classes.
February 2018 - November 2018 - Fourth Class of 50 trainees paired with mentors and enrolled in field specific job training along with general STEM Education and business classes.
The civil war in Sudan killed two and a half million people and displaced nearly six million South Sudanese between 1983 and 2005. The infrastructure in South Sudan was completely devastated leaving the citizens of the newly independent country to rebuild all of the education, agriculture and community systems. Although South Sudan has accomplished much in the years since independence, widespread poverty, unemployment, inter-ethnic clashes and conflict with Sudan remain chronic issues. According to Oxfam, only 12% of women and 11% of men in South Sudan are formally employed, making the average unemployment rate 89.5%, which is often even higher in rural communities.
In 2007, The Valentino Achak Deng (VAD) Foundation made a CGI commitment, to build the first secondary school in the region. Since its opening in 2009, Marial Bai Secondary School has served approximately 1,450 students, created hundreds of temporary jobs and 45 full time positions in Marial Bai, South Sudan. It is the highest ranking Secondary School that is free for students to attend, and currently has 500 students, 300 of whom board on campus. In addition 100 of the students are female, all of whom live on campus. The school has the largest girls secondary school operation in the country of South Sudan and focuses heavily on gender equality and delaying marriage.
Drawing from the students who could not commit to four years of secondary school, or are a better candidate for vocational training due to lack of primary training or the pressing need to generate income for their family, the VAD foundation realized it was necessary to develop an apprenticeship and vocational program in South Sudan that would prepare young adults for the local workforce and create small businesses at the local level.