In Cameroon, promoting entrepreneurship among young women in crisis areas

About FEREFAN, a dynamic federation addressing the need for youth training

Faced with the lack or inadequacy of public training opportunities in this region marked by the presence of terrorist groups, FEREFAN has been working since 2006 to make vocational training more adaptable to the needs of rural populations called upon to carry out different activities, depending on the season. For the 2019-2020 school year, 392 learners have benefited from FEREFAN's training offers, 80% of whom are girls.

Initially, the Family Schools provided very localized training assistance with few resources available. Faced with the difficulty of providing an adequate training service that could benefit a maximum number of young people, the schools organized themselves into a federation, which became the Fédération régionale des Ecoles Familiales Agricoles du Grand Nord (FEREFAN). This same federation was later supported by other organizations, including IIEP-UNESCO Dakar. The creation of FEREFAN was thus a response to the need to adapt training systems to local realities, by designing an alternative system to the traditional TVET system.

Through this project and the support of IIEP-UNESCO Dakar, the objective was to strengthen the sustainability and attractiveness of the vocational training system for rural producers belonging to the federation.

Alternative training for young girls and boys in rural areas

The innovation that characterizes this project is illustrated through a double aspect:

  • The trainings are conducted in rural areas, sometimes dangerous (Boko Haram's area of action), where the State is often absent and the populations are left to their own devices. The pedagogical teaching is thus transmitted under the tree (theoretical courses) and the trainers travel directly to the learners' homes, in the family farms, for the practical part. There are no fixed structures that can serve as training centers. The organization thus adapts to its environment;
  • The project is aimed at target populations living in a crisis context, especially women, most of whom are illiterate. The training content is adapted to their environment and profile. FEREFAN ensures that the training modules are adapted to the needs of each learner.

The link established between the training context in crisis areas and the adaptation of the offer to the needs of rural, isolated and illiterate populations engaged in seasonal activities thus constitutes the heart of the innovation of this project.

In 2020, FEREFAN had 10 associations in the three northern regions of Cameroon, reaching more than 200 families and 320 young learners, including 265 girls and 55 boys. FEREFAN has listed more than 1000 young people in its register of former learners.

Purpose of the technical support provided by IIEP-UNESCO Dakar

The financial and technical support of IIEP-UNESCO Dakar consisted in accompanying the actors from July 2018 to December 2020 in formalizing the training offer set up by volunteers in order to raise awareness among the ministries on this atypical training offer and succeed in having it recognized by the competent authorities through a national certification. More specifically, IIEP-UNESCO Dakar's support was based on the following three objectives:

  • Finalization of technical and pedagogical resources (reference materials and learning sheets);
  • Strengthening the anchoring of the practice in the national training system;
  • Strengthening the visibility of the practice.

IIEP-UNESCO Dakar's support has made it possible to take stock of the practice of the Ecoles Familiales Agricoles, to present FEREFAN's work-study training practice, to develop job-competence and training guidelines for rural producers, training booklets for crop and animal production, and practical learning sheets, and to identify ways of anchoring FERAFAN's offer in the national training system. The support also allowed for the development of communication tools for the visibility of the experience.