Country Highlights


The UN Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, began her mission to Africa with a resonating speech at the Financing Conference of the Global Partnership for Education(GPE). She called for access to free and quality education, which is one of the biggest challenges young people in Africa are facing. The conference was jointly hosted by Senegalese President, H.E. Macky Sall, and French President, H.E. Emmanuel Macron and attended by ten current and three former Heads of State and Government, over a hundred Ministers, as well as officials, representatives of the UN System, Civil Society working in the education sector, with a total of some 1200 participants. At the Conference over 50 developing countries announced commitments to increase public expenditures for education for the period 2018 to 2020 to a total of US$110 billion, compared to US$80 billion between 2015 and 2017. Furthermore, donor countries pledged US$2.3 billion in financing to GPE until 2020, which is a substantial increase in funding compared to the US$1.3 billion contributed over the past three years. Several donor countries also indicated their intention to pledge further funds over the course of the financing period.


Photo credit: Sarah Kenyi – UNFPA

On the same day, the Envoy rallied support for a UNFPA-led demographic dividend pilot project in FASS County in Dakar. She attended the launch of the innovative project at an event that hosted the UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mr. Mabingue Ngom, the Mayor of Fass, a representative of the Minister of Youth and Sports and other dignitaries, alongside a large number of Fass community members in attendance. The project is an innovative initiative that aims to operationalize the demographic dividend in a disadvantaged urban neighbourhood that is marked by a large youth population, by focusing on the investments in young people, in their empowerment, in particular that of girls and young women and in their health, education, and employment. “This pilot project should serve as an example to other communities across Africa, and be replicated in other parts of the world,” Ms. Wickramanayake noted.

During her visit, the Envoy also met with young people at Outreach Center in Mbour, located some 85 kilometers from the capital Dakar. The center offers a range of services including comprehensive sexuality information, HIV/AIDS testing, family planning services, and awareness raising on the need to end harmful practices, particularly child marriage and female genital mutilation through the “Don’t Touch My Sister” Campaign. It also serves as a center for arts and culture, and is a platform where young people can get counselling services, on-site. The center also promotes a highly popular and anonymous telephone hotline.  The Envoy enjoyed a tour of the center and engaged with local young people in a dialogue, while also participating in a dynamic radio interview that was aired live from the center.

Another highlight of the Envoy’s mission to Senegal was the visit to Al Hadj Ibrahima Thiaw School in a local neighborhood in Dakar where she was warmly welcomed by the school leadership and pupils and attended an event with interactive role-play, dance and performances, that students creatively use to learn and raise awareness about the need to prevent child marriage and avoid teenage pregnancies, that often lead adolescent girls dropping out of school.  “We need to stand in solidarity for the rights of young girls to education,” the Envoy addressing those in attendance. “Young boys and men also have a responsibility to stand against child marriage, promote education for girls, and stand in solidarity with their sisters,” she added.

Photo Credit: Sarah Kenyi – UNFPA