Photo Credit: MOYS P.A.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) recently released its first quarterly report highlighting speedy progress it has made thus far, under Minister S. Tornorlah Varpilah, who took over the ministry last February. The summary report, which covers February, March and April, also outlines activities the ministry will undertake in the next three months, along with critical challenges.
Youth Empowerment, Employment and Job Creation
In the areas of youth empowerment, employment and job creation, the ministry, through the Youth Empower Skills Program, awarded six contracts, valued at US$875,000, to six organizations to conduct 4-6 months intensive vocational training for 1,300 youth various trade disciplines.
The training will be conducted at Klay Vocational Training Center in Klay, Bomi County; Tumutu Vocational Training Center in Salala, Bong County; Bassa Community College in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County; Monrovia Vocational Training Center, Business Domestic Occupational Training Center in Monrovia, Montserrado County; and Center Songhai Liberia Initiative Agricultural Training Center in Bensonville, also Montserrado County.
Meanwhile, the ministry completed the construction of five housing units for 10 instructors at Klay Vocational Training Center, established a technical working committee (comprising representatives from Ministries of Finance, Public Works, Education and MYS itself, to coordinate the renovation of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center, and developed a scope of work to enhance the contracting of a competent private construction company to refurbish the eight buildings in need of renovation at the center.
The ministry also drafted the national Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) Act for submission to the Liberian Cabinet for official endorsement, and submitted the revised draft terms of reference for the national youth advisor to the office of the president for action.
It trained and graduated 323 young women in cosmetology, tailoring, hotel management, and interior design, and certificated 127 young farmers (89 boys and 38 girls) during the first graduation ceremony of the MYS-run Center Songhai Liberia Initiative.
Under its National Youth Service Program, the ministry recruited 160 young university, college and professional school graduates to be deployed shortly in the 15 counties of Liberia to provide one-year service in agriculture, education, health and peace-building.
With support from UNFPA, MYS hired one international expert and three national consultants to provide technical assistance to the National Youth Policy Revision Process, which has been taking place around the country during the last two weeks. The process will end with a youth summit in Monrovia on June 14.
In collaboration with Search for Common Ground, American University and LISGIS, the ministry conducted a national youth engagement study. Findings of the study will be used to produce the National Youth Situation Analysis Report, the Liberia Youth Development Index, to measure investment in the youth sector, revise the National Youth Policy, and carve the National Youth Development Plan.
In sports development, MYS facilitated the participation of 17 athletes in the Under 18 ECOWAS Solidarity Tournament for Junior Athletics, held from March to April 5 in Yamoussoukro, Cote D’Ivoire, in which Liberia won a gold medal, in high jump; hosted the Milo Under 13 Soccer Tournament in Monrovia, From March 3-16, with 39 schools participating, and facilitated Liberia’s participation in the Milo Under 13 African Soccer Championship Tournament, held in Accra, Ghana, on 8-15 April 8 – 15.
It also conducted a national basketball baseline assessment in six counties: Bong, Margibi, Lofa, Nimba, and Montserrado, to determine the status of basketball development in the country. The goal is to re-start the UP Country Basketball Tournament. The tournament will be renamed the McGown Basketball Tournament, in honor of Herald Emmet McGown, a former American Peace Corps Volunteer, who dedicated 20 years of voluntary service to the development of basketball in Liberia.
Peacefully, the ministry negotiated a lingering leadership crisis within the National Taekwondo Federation, resulting to the election of a new corps of officers for federation.
In order to carve a roadmap for the development and promotion of sports in the country, the MYS organized a one-day partnership meeting with former national players of Liberia’s Lone Star Teams and Sporting Federations. Participants at the meeting expressed commitment to meaningfully contribute to sports development, while the agency set up a national planning committee to oversee the revision of the draft National Sports Policy and develop a national sports plan.
It organized the 2012 Inter-Ministerial Sports tournament in Kickball, volleyball and football, with 35 ministries and public corporations participating in the ongoing competition, and hosted a friendly soccer match between the Lone Star Amputee Team and the Ghanaian National Amputee Team, in Monrovia, which ended 0-0.
Improving Policy and Institutional Development
To guarantee a higher level of efficiency, the ministry conducted a leadership and team-building retreat for senior staff, including the minister, deputy ministers, assistant ministers, directors, and supervisors, from April 19—20. The retreat ended with the adoption of the MYS 2012 Annual Work Plan and 10 core values to guide performance at the ministry: Accessibility, Accountability, Commitment, Equity, Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for others and the Rule of Law, Team work, Tolerance, and Transparency.
In the same vein, it conducted a rapid institutional capacity gap diagnostic assessment, which identified inadequate trained professional staff; weak internal financial management, internal audit and procurement control systems; lack of research, monitoring & evaluation and program capacities, as critical areas that urgently need to be strengthened within the ministry, and at the same time concluded negotiation with the National Internal Audit Secretariat to deploy certified auditors to strengthen its internal controls.
Additionally, the ministry submitted an institutional capacity development request to the World Bank to conduct a financial risk management assessment that will provide empirical information to facilitate the submission of a 3-year capacity development proposal to World Bank.
Beyond that, it secured a year’s funding from UNICEF and the World Bank to fill the needed positions of director for research, monitoring & evaluation, director of procurement, two project finance officers and a program manager.
Moreover, the ministry established one national coordination mechanism for youth and sports development at two levels: (i) National Youth Steering Committee, consisting of line ministries and agencies with youth related functions and development partners responsible to provide policy guidance and resource mobilization, and (ii) National Technical Working Group to provide technical guidance.
It held the first inter-ministerial National Youth Steering Committee Meeting to adopt a common agenda for youth empowerment and employment. Outputs were the agreement to adopt and support the principles
of one national youth development program, one partnership coordination mechanism, and one national
monitoring and evaluation system to track performance, submit the draft TVET Act for discussion to the Liberian Cabinet, and conduct a national comprehensive labor demand study that will cover research concerns of the Ministries of Education, Labor, Gender and Development and Youth and Sports.
Priority Actions for May-July 2012
Youth Empowerment, Employment and Job Creation
The Ministry of youth and Sports will, during the referenced period, implement a number of projects and
activities, including the official dedication of the Klay Vocational Training Center, Commencement of the Youth Employment Skills-funded Vocational Training at Center Songhai Initiative, training at the Business Occupational Training Center, Bassa Community College Buchanan, and at Tumutu.
The ministry will also complete four regional youth policy consultations by 30 May, host a national youth policy conference by June 26 and provide scholarships for 1,700 youth to enroll in vocational training programs nationwide. MYS will deploy 160 youth in the 15 counties to provide a one-year national voluntary service in agriculture, education, health and peace-building, and commence the renovation of Monrovia Vocational Training Center.
It will celebrate the International Scout Week and re-launch the National Scout Movement in Liberia. In partnership with the International Youth Federation (IYF), the ministry will also organize Liberia’s World Youth Camp for 700 youth at the SKD Sports Complex in Monrovia and attend the World Youth Camp in Korea in July. MYS will collaborate with the Ministry of Labor to commence the drafting of the National Youth Marshall Plan for Employment
MYS will complete the National Inter-ministerial Tournament by June 30, conclude a national sports assessment by May 30, begin revision of the sports policy and development plan in July, facilitate Liberia’s participation in the London Olympics and assess the capacities of sporting federations and associations in the country.
Major challenges facing the ministry include inadequate budgetary allocation to cope with increasing demands from youth and sports organizations to carry out program interventions; inadequate trained professionals to provide the much needed quality public services, and weak management internal control systems.