Every year, throughout Latin-America and the Caribbean, hundreds of thousands of young people drop out of secondary schools. Most of them do so with limited skills, qualifications and experience to enter today’s competitive job market. Most of them (70% according to A-Ganar) end up “unattached” (outside school and unemployed). A Ganar works with these young people and through an innovative program, which combines soccer, life skills and job training, and helps them become productive citizens and pursue their dreams.
The A Ganar program started 10 years ago out of a powerful idea from soccer player Pelé and former IDB President, Enrique Iglesias, to use soccer as a vehicle to channel the energy and passion of youth to help them develop life skills and find a way to maximize their full potential and become productive citizens. The program was originally supported by a Multilateral Investment Fund (www.fomin.org) grant and has expanded to 16 countries, benefiting about 14,000 young people over the last decade.
The A Ganar – Barbados Program has expanded this success story to the English Caribbean, with the support from the IDB-funded Skills for the Future Program, a $20 Million investment loan that focuses on improving the quality and relevance of secondary and post-secondary education and aligning the supply of technical and vocational programs to the demands of employers and the economy.
The program is targeting 400 “at-risk” students from six public secondary schools and two post-secondary training institutions. Out of the first cohort of 176 students (80% male), 61 graduated in December 2015, after having completed the program’s three modules, including: 100 hours of “sport and life skills coaching”, 150 to 360 hours of “technical training” and a short (1-3 week) internship. Of these graduates, more than half went back to continue their education and 10% more found a job. Overall, 66% found a way to continue to pursue their dreams. This success rate is particularly significant considering that participating youth were chosen among students who were at risk of dropping out or being expelled from school. Some of them are even at high risk of ending up in juvenile detention or in prison. Furthermore, this was achieved in a context of economic crisis and job reductions in Barbados.
Beyond the numbers, the program has managed to change the lives of several youth, among them Romario Thorne, age 17. Romario could neither finish school nor pass any CxC tests, which in Barbados are a requirement for any formal job or for pursuing tertiary education. The program gave him the opportunity to enroll in the Digital Media program, through the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, and was later chosen to film important interviews and to work part-time in a digital media company. His leadership, discipline and work ethics won him a scholarship to the University of the West Indies to study Motion Picture Arts.
Other two examples that represent well the ideal of this project are Asha Farrell from Barbados and Guido Rivera from Honduras. They had the opportunity to speak before the United Nations Nations as a part of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace celebrations. Asha declared: “We are a generation that requires continuous leadership, innovation and change. I am here today because I wish to be a catalyst of change and positive leadership among my youth. However, we can’t do it alone.” To see her full speech click here. Her presentation begins around the 2:30:45 mark.
For more information, visit A Ganar Barbados in Facebook.