“The youth centers must be managed by the youth themselves, a committee composed of available youth with various profiles and skills, among them young entrepreneurs with a proven level in management, others with proven knowledge in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), in sexual and reproductive health (SRH), young people with exemplary behavior in the community … “. These are some of the ideas proposed by the youth of the communes Itaba and Giheta, in the province of Gitega. This was on December 15 and 16, 2021, during the final of an innovation hackathon on ideas for solutions for the sustainability of youth centers in their management and services and especially how to integrate social impact programs in these centers. This competition of best ideas was organized by care international in Burundi within the framework of the Tubakarorero project.
According to Mr. Rumbira Jean, Junior Consultant Associate at the HUB of Innovation Care / Nawe Nuze and one of the organizers of the competition, the idea of organizing this hackathon is to have a methodology and tools adapted to the needs of youth that can sustain the management and services of Youth Centers. “The best ideas for solutions collected will serve as prototypes and will be tested in four pilot Youth Centers first, if the results are positive, the same methodology can be adapted in other youth centers throughout the country. Mr. Rumbira explained.
The young people who participated in the said competition thank care International and the Association Iprosarude which implements the Tubakarorero project in the Gitega province, for giving the freedom to the young people to propose their ideas. They say that the competition helped them to think about the importance of youth centers and what these centers can help them if their proposals are integrated.
“I thank Care International in Burundi and its implementing organizations, who thought of us young people. We are the ones who know what can help us in life. Often it is the older people who think for us and their proposals are not adapted to us. This competition helped me to realize that my voice counts and that youth centers are our spaces, that we must manage them well but also propose ideas that will benefit others. In my presentation I insisted on the good management of the youth center and especially integrated in the center trainings that will help the youth to acquire knowledge to create small income generating initiatives, training on leadership, but also integrated programs to fight against SGBV, SRH and entrepreneurship”. Said Niyomwungere Anitha, 23 years, commune Itaba.
For Ndayisaba Grégoire, 32 years old, Kibogoye hill, Giheta commune, the youth centers should not only be considered as leisure centers, to play theaters for students, but as meeting centers to be trained to be responsible adults, to learn how to use their talent well. For him, several topics can be addressed such as: entrepreneurship, the use of computer tools, dance, art, mechanics, etc..
Niyorukundo Lameck, 25 years old, from Itaba commune, said that the youth centers will be useful to young people if the programs are well chosen and if they are in line with what recruiters ask for when they apply for a job. He proposes in addition to SRH, entrepreneurship and the fight against SGBV, the integration of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). For him, new technologies are gaining ground today and many young people in remote areas of the country don’t have the opportunity to learn computer skills and miss several opportunities because recruitment tests are often done on computer.
Several young people have proposed that training in youth centers could begin in the afternoon hours to allow students not to miss the lessons. But also to put at the disposal of the young people a calendar of the themes that will be developed per week. In addition to the face-to-face trainings, the youth have proposed video or audio pre-recorded learning by specialists in entrepreneurship, SRH, and SGBV. This will help youth benefit from the experience of experts who may not have time to travel to the provinces. Hence they proposed that the centers should have a flat screen TV, writing board, toolbox, internet connection, and other materials that facilitate learning.
It should be noted that at least 221 young people from the youth centers Kabezi, Bujumbura Province, Gihanga youth center in Bubanza, and the youth centers Itaba and Giheta in Gitega province, participated in the competition. And the first three candidates, who obtained more points per center, will receive prizes as an encouragement.