The refugee crisis is one of the most pressing issues around the world, including Finland. Thousands of refugees cross oceans in search of a better life and safety, some even come as far as here. Right now, it is crucial that we look for sustainable solutions together to prevent the spread of radicalisation.
Easier said than done?
The refugee crisis is often mentioned in the same breath with the term development cooperation. There is a lot of debate around what this ‘cooperation’ really means. An open and honest approach to doing development is essential. Support should be targeted to those areas and people that need it most. It is also more important than ever to build cooperation efforts together with the private sector, across industries. To make a real change, we need to question existing models and create new ones.
Finn Church Aid has kick-started a new cooperation pilot in Uganda, called Learn to Earn. It began with building a vocational school in the middle of a refugee settlement on the Congolese border, where refugee and local Ugandan youth will be studying to gain new professions. But the school is also much more than that. Local entrepreneurs offer hands-on work experience to students and come in as visiting lecturers to provide invaluable knowledge.
Partners from Finland are also on board. Omnia, a vocational education development centre, will develop educational materials for the school. Finnish-Kenyan education startup Fuzu will bring a digital platform to help students find jobs with local employers.
These efforts will provide students with a fast-track to employment opportunities. Students will become mechanics, agriculturalists, construction experts and catering professionals. These are the future entrepreneurs of Uganda. Learn to Earn aims to bring a brighter future for thousands of youth.
All of this is made possible through a collaboration between the private sector, world-class experts in education and local stakeholders.
Marketing and communications experts are also on board from the start. Often, communication is done way too late, at a stage when everything on the ground has already happened. In this project, Måndag and Write This Down are telling the story from the word go. We help design engagement strategies for diverse audiences, whether they are in Finland, or in Uganda.
The pilot is being implemented together with local authorities so that it can create lasting impact. If this model proves successful, it can be scaled to other parts of Uganda too.
Learn to Earn is an example of a unique collaboration that many other countries can learn from. Education and employment opportunities are sure to bring long-lasting change in Uganda and beyond.
Arto Sivonen the founder of Måndag and a marketing designer who believes that marketing (among other things) can change the world.