4-H provides positive youth development opportunities around the world – Part 2

The 4-H Global Network is helping youth build skills for life in developing countries in Africa.

The Global 4-H Network  is working to train the next generation of farmers and entrepreneurs in developing countries. Food security is a global issue with the projection that food production must double by 2050 to meet the estimated population growth. The network is looking at “youth as the solution” based on the belief that youth can change the world.

The National 4-H Council has partnered with National 4-H Headquarters and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension and private sector partners to link 4-H programs around the world. Partners in the project include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Cargill, DuPont Corporation, Motorola Foundation and Nike Foundations.

In the United States 4-H got its start by teaching youth new agricultural practices through 4-H corn clubs. With the youth willing to try new things, this was a way to also reach adults. The “smallest farmers are youth” with 60 percent of children and adolescents worldwide working in agriculture. The 4-H Global Network’s efforts will help prepare young people around the world to help with the global issues of hunger, sustainable livelihoods and food security.

Michigan State University Extension says that the network is working to give technical assistance to improve practices in agriculture and positive youth development. They are working to create web resources that are culturally relevant and easily accessible to 4-H partners around the world. They are also working to build a network that links 4-H programs around the world.

A pilot was conducted in Tanzania in 2010-11. Hubs of Excellence have now been established in Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya. 4-H program capacity building is also taking place in Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa. The Tanzanian 4-H motto is "Learning by Doing" and “Earning while Learning.” The Ghana 4-H pledge is similar to the U.S. pledge with a few wording changes. “I promise to work towards becoming a youth with a Clear Head, an Open Heart, Clever Hands and Good Health, so help me God.”

4-H Global Knowledge Center, a virtual repository of agriculture and positive youth development has been created, along with Kenya 4-H providing leadership. It offers learning toolkits in English and Swahili, including: Agricultural project learning tools on rabbits, caring for chickens and gardening. Youth development learning tools, including life and livelihood skills, life skills learned in 4-H and Agricultural Professions and career awareness. Gender equality education is another issue 4-H is addressing with Gender toolkits. These gender kits provide tools for 4-H organizers, leaders, volunteers, members, or parents, to build knowledge and awareness of gender equity.

The 4-H Global Network initiative has a goal of expanding 4-H membership to one million youth outside the US by 2015. Engaging more girls and women is an important emphasis. The intent is to help these young people and their families build a better future for themselves, address global issues and enable young people to reach their full potential.

Read 4-H provides positive youth development opportunities around the world – Part 1 for more information.

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