Monrovia, June 4, 2019: The Youth Opportunities Project (YOP), a Government of Liberia youth development initiative that is jointly implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS), and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), has launched a new media platform in Monrovia. The platform is a radio program known as YOP Time for the young people of Liberia to now seek better information on how to advance their skills and gain social support to boost self-income, and freely participate into the design of services intended to affect them. The program now airs on Capitol FM 89.7, a local radio station in Monrovia, owned by Matrix Media. A total of 15,000 youth are targeted under the YOP which aims to increase opportunities for young people to raise self-income and enhance their capacity in various life skills and business management support, and job readiness trainings. Launched on Thursday of the week, YOP Time will serve as a major avenue through which public information activities will be sustained going forward for the project. Currently, the awareness approach of the YOP is characterized by community mobilization and stakeholders’ engagements; television, radio, print, and social media awareness initiatives including dramatized short messages and radio jingles. The production of the project’s magazine is at the verge. According to the presenter of the radio show, Zazay Kolubah, the new platform will accelerate more knowledge about the project, and obtain feedback and facilitate interaction with the public in most parts of the country where foot awareness is not possible in time. By this, the former UNMIL Radio broadcaster said, there will be a broader space where local residents, especially prospective and current beneficiaries, can engage relevant stakeholders of the project. Both urban and rural youth are targeted in the 15 counties of Liberia under the YOP. The project operates under three major subcomponents; namely the Pre-employment Social Support (PESS) for youth, 15-17 years, and aims to provide job readiness skills training for beneficiaries; the Household Enterprise Support (HES) seeks to promote youth, 17-35 years, into financial management skills and business support while the Productive Public Works (PPW) Component targets similar age range of HES beneficiaries, but particularly in rural communities, providing farming inputs, tools and financial grants to youth to engage into farming.
Deputy Youth and Sports Minister for Youth Development Isaac Doe in his capacity as the focal person for the YOP implementation at the Ministry of Youth and Sports reported on the first edition of the radio show that the project is empowering a significant number of the vulnerable population of the youth community in Liberia. According to the Deputy Minister, 7,224 rural youth were earlier recruited and supported with simple farming tools and cash subsidies to engage in communal farming in 258 rural communities across the country. In Monrovia, 786 youth were recruited last year and an additional batch of recruits, 1,500, are currently be enrolled from 15 communities to receive start-up grants to establish and run their group businesses.
“There are a lot more happening within the project. For more update, I encourage the public, especially the young people, to not only be regular listeners to YOP Time, but rather, usual participants on the show; share views and concerns about the project and other youth related issues,” the deputy minister intoned. On that note – Doe continued - let me, on behalf half of Minister of Youth and Sports Zeogar Wilson, the Executive Director of LACE Quiwu Yeke, and the entire Project Management Team (PMT) of the YOP launch the YOP Time that will air on Capitol FM 89.7 every Thursday for one hour beginning at 5:00pm. “Moving forward, this radio program would serve as the official radio broadcast platform for programmatic and public awareness initiatives by the YOP where youth can seek career opportunities, social and financial support to transform their lives,” he concluded.
The Senior Program Officer of the YOP Jerry Zangar reported that the June 2019 recruitment of youth, aged 15-17, into job readiness training under the PESS component of the project will be the first campaign initiative that will take over the radio show, soon. The overall target for PESS is 2,000 urban youth, but for the first round, only 500 youth will be recruited. Zangar expressed gratitude to the World Bank for providing the financial support upon which the five years’ YOP is being implemented. Quite recently, a US$3.5m grant was signed between the Governments of Liberia and Sweden as additional finance to support youth agriculture activities until December 2020.