ChildFund International, NetHope and Intel Corp. are working together on a netbook pilot project in Brazil to develop a “Graduate Program” aimed at preparing youth in current ChildFund programs to enter the job market as “digital citizens.” The pilot aims to streamline sponsorship processes, while also enhancing child-centered programming so children can develop and grow into productive adults. Another goal is to enable youth to enter promising job markets and to create their own jobs.
This initiative comes at a critical time as nations place high demand on innovative and effective solutions to the social and economic issues that impact youth across the globe. In 2008, the global unemployment rate in the 15-25 age group was 12.2 percent, nearly three times higher than the unemployment rate for adults. And youth unemployment is expected to increase in the coming decade.
“With such a high unemployment rate for youth, we need to find ways to accommodate them,” says Anne Scott, vice president of Global Programs for ChildFund. “In order to do that, they need to be digital citizens and they need to be prepared to navigate as businesspeople.”
The program intends to enable disadvantaged youth by helping them obtain government-issued identification, electronic banking capabilities, job skills training and education on the use of technology for business and marketing activities. By equipping youth with access to services such as Kiva and eBay, enabling them to transact electronically through e-banking and obtaining other necessary credentials (such as a passport or driver’s license), the initiative will help youth build their own futures through entrepreneurial skills and innovation.
“This type of technology solution is in high demand across our NetHope members and its Developing World programs,” states Dr. William Brindley, CEO of NetHope. “Technology can be a significant enabler for the data collection and training needs of our NGO members, especially those working in rural remote areas. We at NetHope are pleased to partner with the ChildFund and Intel teams to bring the true power of the Public Private Partnership.”
The initiative was unveiled at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in May.
At WCIT, Chris Thomas, chief strategist and director of architecture for the Intel World Ahead Program, discussed the strategic relationship and how the project will work. “Key to economic success is enabling a populace of digital citizens through access to technology and connectivity,” Thomas said. “In working with NetHope and ChildFund International, we are supporting digital citizens to shape their local markets and contributing to economic growth and development.”
“We’re at a turning point globally,” Scott adds. “If we don’t empower these youth with the necessary skills and connect them to positive job markets, the youth could go into hidden economies where they are exploited. And they also aren’t contributing to the revenue base of their countries.”