Seeking to improve the transition from school to work among some of the country’s most vulnerable youth, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) has launched the Tanzania Youth Scholars initiative that aims to increase access to quality vocational and entrepreneurship training and secondary education opportunities for 1,800 orphans and vulnerable children through educational scholarships.

The five-year program is funded by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). IYF will work in partnership with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training as well as local implementing partners to carry out the initiative and track and report results. Last week's launch event and panel discussion attracted top representatives from the Tanzanian government, the USAID Mission, IYF, implementing NGOs, the broader development community, and a cohort of youth leaders.

Orphans and other vulnerable children are estimated to make up nearly 10 per cent of Tanzania’s youth population. The Tanzanian Youth Scholars initiative seeks to address the challenges facing this under-served group by offering them the life skills, vocational training, and employment opportunities necessary to improve their health and well being and enable them to make positive contributions to their families, communities, and the local workforce.

“The International Youth Foundation is grateful to USAID for its ongoing commitment to youth development here in Tanzania and across Africa  and for this opportunity to work together to ensure more vulnerable youth gain access to the training and education they need to be successful,” said Peter Shiras, IYF’s Executive Vice President. “The only way to improve the future of today’s youth is through partnerships like this one—where all sectors of society, as well as the international community, are mobilizing their resources to improve young lives,” said Robert Cunnane, USAID/Tanzania’s Mission Director.

The Tanzania Youth Scholars program is directly linked to the PEPFAR goal of providing care and support to people affected by HIV/AIDS and improving data collection and coordination.  It is implemented locally by the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA), Kiwohede Women's Center, and Camfed. The initiative is funded through IYF’s Youth: Work Leader with Associates Award, which allows overseas USAID Missions and Bureaus to access the Foundation's youth employment programs and services.