The forum was held at Bilingual Madrassa High School in Soma. It was funded by the European Union and Trust Fund for Africa. Organisers encouraged youth to venture into entrepreneurship.
Joanna Mendy, Social Cohesion Manager at IMVF explained that,IMVF is a Protugése project working closely with Tekki-Fi Project and partners in The Gambia to discourage young people from using the sea to Europe.
According to her, they recently shifted the project’s focus to Arabic schools because majority of Arabic students find it difficult to secure jobs after completing Grade 12, noting that, this mostly prompts them to embark on that perilous journey.
She added that, the forum was meant to discuss the dangers associated with the journey with students as well as show them available opportunities in the country for young people.
She said IMVF started working with Arabic schools in the country in 2020, noting they have already engaged 13 Arabic schools in Central River Region but hope to engage 2500 Arabic schools in Central River North and South, Lower River, North Bank and Upper River Regions.
Mrs. Mendy pointed out they have been supporting young people with mini and agro grants to venture into businesses of their choices based on their requests.
She added that her office does not only stop at discouraging young people to desist from the back-way but have also been encouraging them to venture into skills useful to their lives and livelihoods.
She explained that the agro grant is equivalent to two hundred and fifty thousand dalasis while the mini grant is fifty thousand dalasis.
Fabakary Sanneh, regional youth coordinator for Lower River Region described the forum as vital and timely.
Abdoulie Ceesay, a returnee hailed IMVF and European Union for engagingArabic schools.According to him, it was a pleasure for him to face students and share his experience on the dangers associated with irregular migration.