The life of youths in Sierra Leone
By:  Bashiru Koroma

Youth in Sierra Leone is defined as those between 15 and 35 years of age (The Sierra Leone National Youth Policy and the National Youths Commission Act 2010). Sierra Leone population is made up of approximately 1.7 million young people between 15 and 35 years which is about 34 percent of the estimated population, 42 percent of Sierra Leoneans are also under the age of 15. The growth rate of the Sierra Leone youthful population is placing a complex challenge for the Government of Sierra Leone and her Development partners as the educational systems are failing young people.

The untapped and unproductive increasing youthful population in Sierra Leone is leading to a serious socio-political problems resulting to the increasing formation of cliques and their participation in political violence. According to the New Guardian analysis of the most recent World Health Organization data, the most dangerous country in the world to be a young person between the ages 15 to 29 is Sierra Leone. Half of all the young people in Sierra Leone are illiterates and 60% unemployed making it very difficult for them to meet their basic needs. This is leading young people to engage in dangerous, illegal and violence activities for them to survive.

Key among the challenges facing young people in Sierra Leone are: lack of access to quality education, unemployment and under employment resulting from inadequate and inappropriate training for the job market (mismatch between demand and supply of labor), high incidence of drugs and substance abuse, teenage pregnancies, gender issues, high level of transactional sex among young girls, partly as a coping strategy against poverty, vulnerability to disease especially sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS and exclusion of young people in decision making on issues affecting them.

The high level of poverty, unemployment and underemployment among young people in Sierra Leone call for an extra ordinary measure to tackle them with the youths and their representatives in the forefront of formulation of strategies, and interventions designed to uplift their status. There is need to strengthen literacy level of the youths, addressing identified gaps in basic education and training, from primary, secondary education through to more advanced training and qualification, higher education, technical vocational education training and apprenticeship training, based on the labor market realities of the country, adoption of innovative approaches to human resources and skills development. Other practical measures also need to be taken to boost the creation of decent employment for young women and men.

The large number of unemployed and under-employed young people represents both a threats and an opportunity. Many of the pre-conflict condition that helped fuel the young people’s participation in the civil war (joblessness, marginalization, living under oppressive traditional and cultural system, substance abuse) still exist today. Addressing youths challenge goes hand in hand with achieving the sustainable development goals through poverty and hunger eradication, empowering young people access quality education, equal justice and economic opportunities, increasing young people participation and representation in decision making, prevention and response mechanism in violence among young people, creation of a conducive business environment for young people among others.

@ Bashiru Koroma
National Focal Point
Network of African Youths for Development


  1. Good article, That allow me to know a litle about SL. But I would like if exist any good things that are Happening there, for youth. Thank you

  2. Yes of course, good things are happening. There are a lot of potential in the youthful population. There is the willingness, passion and drive for the youths to be involved in different developmental activities such as sport, entertainment, entrepreneurship, agriculture, tourism, education, skill training, health etc, but the opportunities are limited. We therefore, The youths therefore need capacity building program, projects, cooperation, collaboration and partnership in Government, Non-Governmental, Civil Society and the private sector. Thanks so much Helen Deise Barbosa, I hope this fully answered your question.


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