This project sought to respond to the problem of the exclusion of the formal secondary education system in Cape Verde, which leaves many young people lacking in skills and competences, and hinders their capacity to integrate the labor market, placing them at the margins of society and fostering juvenile delinquency. Based on the experience of the Brazilian NGO AfroReggae in some of the most violent favelas in Rio de Janeiro and in other countries, the project has developed a series of initiatives aimed at investing in the potential of disadvantaged children in three pilot neighborhoods of Praia. education, culture and art to environments marked by urban violence.
The population of Cape Verde is mostly urban (urban centers concentrate 62% of the population) and young (with an average age of 26.2 years). About 192,000 children and adolescents between 0 and 17 years old (corresponding to almost 40% of the population) live in the archipelago. Although basic education is practically universal in Cape Verde, with the great majority of students enrolled in public schools, secondary education continues to be one of the challenges for education in the country. Despite the strong expansion of secondary education between 2001 and 2009, school drop-out rates remain very high, particularly for students over the age of 14 from disadvantaged social classes. The fact that the secondary study is not gratuitous and tends to be perceived by the families as an expense and not as an investment favors the exit of the adolescents from school before the end of the secondary level, some looking for work (although of precarious nature), others looking for easy money in less desirable activities. It is estimated that in every five 17-year-olds two are out of school.
The official unemployment rate in the country was 16.8% in 2012, being highest in the urban area (19.1%). With a rate of about 21%, young people aged 15-24 are the hardest hit by unemployment. This situation in which the urban and youth segments of the population are the most affected contributes to the perpetuation of the cycles of poverty, with a potentially significant impact on school drop-out, migration and street violence, one of the problems that have been growing strongly in the last years.
In addition to unemployment and low schooling levels of youth, several other factors have been advanced as possible causes of the emergence of street gangs and the increase in urban violence in Cape Verde, in particular: the growth of social inequality among the layers of society; the expansion of the supply of consumer products and the low purchasing power of the vast majority of young people; and the process of urbanization without planning, leading to the expansion of peripheral informal neighborhoods without adequate equipment in terms of basic services.
In the environment of the marginalized neighborhoods of Praia (a city that concentrates half the urban population of the country), there is a deficit in the articulation between civil society movements and public policies, dependence on financing, especially international, for the survival of the actions of development, embryonic network of cooperation among social movements, and lack of access to information on existing public policies directed to the low-income population, mainly related to youth and education. This limits the coordinated access of young people to social services, education (secondary - especially technical and vocational - and higher) and employment opportunities.
The project for the Promotion of Social Inclusion of Young People through Culture was implemented in the Cape Verdean capital between 2013 and 2015, with the general objective of combating school evasion and social precariousness, and promoting the social participation of young people. Funded in part by revenues collected through the "Football Match Against Poverty", organized in Brazil by UNDP in December 2012, the project aimed to provide young people who are victims or at risk of social exclusion with alternative, viable and beneficial life paths for the society, through the promotion of cultural and artistic manifestations, reconciliation with the school universe, approaching the labor market and the development of social skills.
Through the transfer, with appropriate adaptations, of the social technology of the NGO AfroReggae, agents from four local organizations were trained in three districts of Praia to work in mobilization networks aimed at: return of evaders to school education; the strengthening of cultural and educational policy; and the development of debates that contribute to improving the quality of life of disadvantaged young people and to positive changes in their lives.
The project promoted cultural and artistic workshops as strategies to combat violence and social mobilization in favor of inclusion, integrating and training 70 young local multipliers in cultural expressions (such as circus, music, percussion, theater and graphite) in order to continuity to the initiative after its formal implementation period and to extend it beyond the three pilot communities initially focused. Through research involving the application of UNDP's Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) methodology, the project also included the social monitoring of the families of at-risk youth, in order to direct them to existing public policies and improve their access to public services and basic rights.
The project was recognized as the fourth most innovative of 54 initiatives evaluated on the African continent within the framework of the "Innovation Knowledge Fair", organized by UNDP in December 2013.
UNDP, UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
On the Brazilian side: AfroReggae
On the Cape Verde side: Ministry of Youth, Employment and Human Resources Development, and four local organizations: Association of Disabled Children (ACRIDES), Zé Moniz Association, Current Activists and Hope Foundation
Joint UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF Office
Head of the Human Capital Development Unit