The Ministry of Internal Affairs Youth Development Division in the Kingdom of Tonga and the Pacific Community (SPC) launched a new three-year pilot project today to give 40 young people a second chance at education and training in Tonga.
The Pacific Youth Engagement, Empowerment, and Economic Pathways (PYEEEP) project – funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme (MFAT) – aims to empower young Pacific Islanders who are not engaged in education, employment, or training (NEET) to improve their social and economic well-being. This pilot project is currently being implemented in Tonga and the Solomon Islands with the intention of expanding it to other Pacific Island Countries.
The project is designed to strengthen national systems and the national bodies supporting youth-based policies and activities to supplement conventional approaches within the formal education system and provide alternative pathways to decent work and meaningful engagement in society. It intends to support Pacific Island governments to establish inclusive services that empower, engage and employ young people, particularly those who have fallen out of education. The strategic goal of the project is that Pacific Island countries improve sustainable development outcomes for youth excluded from mainstream development.
Honourable Minister for Internal Affairs, Lord Vaea, said: "The Ministry of Internal Affairs endorses the partnership with the Pacific Community to deliver this realistic pilot programme, which will create new opportunities for our youths, merged into mainstream development efforts."
“Today is a milestone as we not only officially launch the project but, we also welcome the 40 youths who will be the first to pilot the chosen pathways. SPC looks forward to working with the Tongan government and partners over the next two years to build a Pacific-customised youth economic pathways project that can be replicated across the region” said Miles Young, Director of SPC’s Human Rights and Social Development Division (HRSD).
New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner, Ms Leitu Sa, said, “The pilot is designed to bring Government, non-government, youth and private sector stakeholders together to test out how pathways can be created and can work within national systems. The engagement of all partners and especially the youth participants is the key to the success of this pilot, and to understand how it can be scaled up in time to come.”
In Tonga, youth unemployment stands at 18.7 per cent according to the International Labour Organization, while the average rate for the region is 23 per cent. In every Pacific Island country and territory, the unemployment rate for young women is higher than for young men. The project, therefore, responds to a critical need to support and empower Tongan youth.
SPC is partnering with the Ministry of Internal Affairs Youth Development Division in Tonga to deliver the project. Other project stakeholders in Tonga include the Tonga National Youth Congress, Tupou
Tertiary Institute, Ahopanilolo Technical Institute, Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development.