Seychelles represented at Global Shapers’ regional conference | 11 July 2019
‘Africa needs its youth to seize opportunities to better its lot’
Two young Seychellois adults represented their country at this year’s annual Global Shapers regional conference which took place in Kenya recently.
Representing the youth NGO, the Global Shapers Victoria Hub (GSVH), Craig Francourt and Jeremy Raguain travelled to Nairobi to participate in this year’s conference, where the theme was ‘Africa’s Youth: Survive, Scale and Celebrate’.
The event was attended by 127 Shapers from over 40 countries worldwide, with a specific focus on whether the continent’s growing youth population provides a dividend of opportunity or a bulge of challenges on existing infrastructure and resources.
The conference included thematic discussions and knowledge exchanges on: democratising access to quality education, the ‘Future of Work’ (i.e. positioning people to thrive in a changing labour market) and mobility and access (i.e. making Africa’s growth story more inclusive).
Mr Francourt and Mr Raguain attended a high-level roundtable discussion with other delegates on Africa’s youth bulge/dividend with Kenya’s deputy President, Dr William Samoei Ruto, at the United Nations Office in Nairobi. They also participated in workshops and discussions on the Future of Work and Education, as well as Gender Equity in the workplace and in Education.
On the final day of the conference, with specific reference to the topic of democratising climate action, the duo participated in field visits to participatory community projects on water conservation outside of Nairobi with the charitable environmental organisation, The Nature Conservancy.
Mr Francourt and Mr Raguain – who, like many of their colleagues within GSVH are involved in a number of voluntary opportunities outside of Global Shapers – also took the opportunity to present to delegates on the outcomes of the Aldabra Clean-Up Project, in which they were both involved.
The purpose of this presentation was to showcase the transformative role that members of GSVH are playing in society, both through hub projects and through collaborating outside of GSVH on other notable causes in the country.
Mr Raguain and Mr Francourt were financially assisted by self-raised GSVH funds and the British high commission to subsidise the costs of flights and accommodation, in order to guarantee that Seychelles was represented at the event.
Commenting on the financial assistance provided by the British high commission, Caron Röhsler, the British high commissioner to Seychelles, said:
“The British high commission was happy to help Global Shapers with funding so they could focus their efforts on doing what they were set up to do, rather than spending valuable time raising money to do it! We want to help the youth of Seychelles fulfil their potential, whatever they aspire to, and to be in a position to shape their world. Global Shapers members are setting a great example to others in this country, and the region, as they act to influence the world around them – whether social issues of inclusion, environmental issues like ocean plastics, or existential issues like climate change – all of which are vitally important in the islands that make up Seychelles.”
Mr Francourt and Mr Raguain commented that they felt better equipped to bolster and scale the work that GSVH is already undertaking on Education and Social Inequality in the Seychelles. They are keen to undertake more research into ‘The Future of Work’ in the Seychelles, by better understanding the soft and hard skills that future generations would need in order to thrive in the local labour market, as well as understand the opportunities and limitations of Seychelles’ current education system in meeting these key human resource needs.
Commenting on his experience at this year’s SHAPE Africa, Mr Francourt said:
“The theme of this year’s SHAPE Africa event aligned perfectly with the work that GSVH has been conducting this past year on Education and Social Inclusion. As we think about the opportunities and challenges presented by a growing youth population in the Seychelles, we need to ensure that our young people are equipped with the knowledge and skills to thrive and embrace this new age. Innovative technologies and sectors will ultimately shift our job market and move our country forward. Our future workforce needs to be ready for this revolution.
“As a starting point, however, we need to ensure that our young people are emotionally resilient, empowered and focussed in school settings. We also need to ensure as a society that we do not leave marginalised groups behind, and that the opportunities that open through new technologies and sectors are inclusive and accessible to all. Our work this past year – whether with marginalised public school-educated girls or with academically able but under-pressure private school-educated young people – has been focussed on equipping the next generation with the soft skills needed to thrive in education and in life. Attending this conference has allowed me to start thinking about what the future landscape of work in the Seychelles will look like, where the deficits lie in terms of soft and hard skills for our young people, and how within GSVH we can mount projects to help build their capacities.”
On his first experience of SHAPE Africa, Mr Raguain said:
“This was the first time that I truly appreciated the global network of people I was connected to through Global Shapers. That realisation was as empowering as it was instructive. I got the chance to engage with and learn from trailblazers across the continent and the rest of the world. Discussing the future of work and education in Africa was particularly apt, given the theme of this conference. With a median age of 19, Africa needs its youth to seize opportunities to better its lot.”
With a background in conservation, Mr Raguain also commented on the recurring theme of democratising climate action and the relevance this has to the Seychelles:
“With climate change, young African islanders like me have the power to frame the issue around national and international security; ultimately making it a social justice problem. As a generation set to inherit an unprecedented global challenge, it is essential that we illustrate climate change not just as an existential threat to our own country’s survival, but to the continent’s too. Africa is the least responsible but most vulnerable continent to the effects of climate change. Issues such as poverty, famine, disease and conflict – which have seen some progress in the last couple of decades – will have this headway erased if we do not use our voice and act on climate action. In the most recent Global Shapers Annual Survey completed by 30,000 young people worldwide, the climate crisis was identified as the most pressing issue facing our generation. This empowers us to have serious discussions that not only inform the actions of larger (and more liable) countries, but also to ensure that we lead by example.”
Mr Raguain – the incoming vice-curator of GSVH – was duly elected as part of GSVH’s incoming curatorship team alongside the incoming curator – Nandita Nair – in February this year. They will be succeeding the outgoing curator and vice-curator – Craig Francourt and Zara Pardiwalla – whose one-year terms came to an end on June 30.