Empowering for change

ACT is pleased to announce the launch of its latest project, the El Kef Youth Empowerment Project (EKYEP). It will seek to provide at-risk teenagers with better opportunities in both life and work, through offering specialised training and reintegration programmes run with both our partner centre staff and teenagers.

In the north-west of Tunisia, marginalized and vulnerable at-risk teenagers have few opportunities for adequate social integration. There is a great need for efficient and strong reintegration programmes for those who drop out of school, teenagers in conflict with the law or those who have been victims of some type of abuse. ACT wants to see these needs addressed.

We want these young people to have greater opportunities for a more hopeful and positive future. We believe this will, in turn, contribute to a healthier and more equitable society in Tunisia.

Excitingly, a new agreement was signed on March 8th 2021 with CDIS El Kef which has kick-started the EKYEP. The Center for Defence and Social Integration in El Kef (Centre de Défense et Intégration Sociale – CDIS El Kef), amongst other things, is responsible for the follow-up and support of teenagers who have dropped out of school or been expelled due to poor performance or disruptive behaviour. CDIS provides psychological support, specialized education, and legal support to teenagers when needed.

ACT is developing training programmes to be implemented at CDIS El Kef, in order to build capacity and to equip CDIS staff. ACT will also implement vocational training workshops for teenagers in order to pique and fuel their interest in being trained to carry out in-demand professions throughout Tunisian society.

The project

ACT has had the opportunity to work with CDIS El Kef throughout 2019 thanks to the North-West Prison Project. Over the course of the project, ACT covered two areas of training with CDIS staff: a life skills programme and a session on the dangers and risks of drugs and addiction. At their request, a programme was carried out with the parents of the adolescents to improve their communication skills.

“The staff recognised the importance of these topics not only for their work with prisoners but also with the teenagers they support,” says Project Manager Jessica. “CDIS voiced an interest in receiving more professional training.” Training which would seek to improve the quality of the service they provide to many from amongst the poorest areas in the region.

After a time of conversation and planning – complicated by navigating the restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic – they came to an understanding that their greatest need was to build their capacity to better serve those they work alongside from the poorer areas of El Kef with a long term perspective.

CDIS staff play an important role in supporting these vulnerable teens. A project which seeks to improve the capacity of CDIS through a specialised training programme such as this one, where they will learn how to work with teenagers at risk, will benefit not only CDIS staff but the lives of the people helped by them, their families, their neighbourhoods and cities.

Some of the brainstorming to have gone into the workings of EKYEP.

All the current active CDIS staff participated in the planning process for this project. For the first time they felt they were heard and cared for, which encouraged them to work hard in this process. Through reflective questions they were able to understand how positive influence can make a change in their life and the life of the people they work with.

As an outcome of this project, CDIS staff will be able apply the knowledge acquired during the training and develop strategies that are realistic to their context. These will help to promote long lasting change for the teenagers they support.

ACT is grateful for our on-going partnership with the CDIS El Kef team. It is a privilege to work with staff who are dedicated to meeting need in an impactful, responsible and caring way. We are excited to see the fruit these roots will bear!