Youth unemployment is a nationwide problem in Tanzania. Although available government statistics show unemployment in Tanzania at 12.7 per cent, studies have indicated that unemployment among young people is higher than 50 per cent,2 particularly in urban areas. The Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT ) FUSION initiative is an innovative response to what has been described as an unemployment crisis.
The initiative integrates two acclaimed DOT programmes that both use a unique youth-led social learning model to embed change in schools and communities; TeachUp! brings innovative use of technology, new learning methods and digital skills content to the classroom; and ReachUp! brings digital skills, workforce skills and entrepreneurial empowerment to out-of-school, out-of-work young people nearby.
The FUSION initiative is a collaborative effort, bringing together the expertise of DOT Tanzania and the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA), and operates in VETA centres and communities in Dar es Salaam, Pwani and Morogoro Regions.
The FUSION pilot aimed to transform five VETA centres into community learning hubs serving both students in the formal vocational education system and out-of-school youth in the surrounding communities. Prior to the project, VETA only served youth who were in the formal setting and registered as VETA students.
Digital skills were taught by integrating ICT exercises into the teaching of business skills, and these lessons took place in VETA IT labs instead of the normal classroom. The community-based component of FUSION served as a motivating gateway for disadvantaged youth to appreciate the opportunities that vocational training offers. Importantly, a social learning platform facilitated peer-to-peer networking and encouraged collaboration and the sharing of experiences among the young users.
Initially planned as a two-year pilot, in 2017 the FUSION initiative was extended by 14 months, in order to increase and sustain the programme’s impact. Following the successes of the pilot phase on the skills and abilities of youth and VETA tutors, DOT used the extension to leverage learning from the pilot to adapt the programme’s design. Through the pilot and extension phases, FUSION targeted 3,000 young people (800 VETA students and 2,200 out-of-school youth), and 170 VETA tutors who would be engaged through 29 youth interns and teacher facilitators.