Vocational Education and Training Give New Hopes for Young Returned Cameroonians
After attempting to get to Europe through Libya, Georges (25) and Cédric (24) decided to return to their native Cameroon in November 2017. Upon their return, they enrolled in vocational training courses with support from IOM. Organized across West and Central Africa, vocational education and training allow returned migrants to quickly regain a place in their communities, by providing them with in-demand skills, thus opening doors to better employment opportunities.
In a small room on the third floor of the Siantou Institute of Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital city, more than 100 family members and friends have gathered to celebrate a special day. The air is thick with anticipation as Georges, 25, stands up to defend his internship report, the final step before earning his technical diploma in Logistics and Transport Management.
Like many young Cameroonians, Georges dreamt of a good education, and he was ready to get it whatever the costs. His family encouraged him to seek it outside the country, and to leave Cameroon for Europe, especially since his sister was already in France.
“When I left Cameroon in June 2017, my mum and I hoped that once in Europe, my sister who has been in France for seven years, would take care of me and that I would continue my studies there”, Georges remembers.
But everything did not go as planned. Georges decided to travel via Niger and Libya but in the face of the abuses he encountered while in Libya, he had a change of heart and decided to return home.
Georges returned home on-board the first IOM chartered flight from Libya to Cameroon in November 2017. Despite what he had endured, he was determined not to give up.
Upon his return, he enrolled in a Logistics and Transport Management course at the Siantou Institute, a Yaoundé-based higher education institution, with the support of IOM in the framework of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for migrant protection and reintegration.
“He has always been a good student”, his aunt said when they both met with IOM to discuss his reintegration plan. For her, Georges’ decision to further his studies was only obvious.
Georges after successfully defending his thesis. Photo: IOM
Like Georges, Cédric, 24, left Cameroon in 2017 as an enthusiastic and talented football player, whose only dream was to become a professional football player abroad.
“In 2017 I left Cameroon for Morocco after an agent offered me a contract. I paid him to obtain a visa” Cédric recounts. “But, when I arrived in Morocco I discovered that it was a scam and that the ‘agent’ had stolen my money”.
Disappointed, Cédric decided to attempt crossing to Europe, but he was stopped in Libya. With the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration’s support, he returned home in November 2017, and enrolled in a two-year program in Business Administration and Accounting at the Higher Institute for Services and Industry (ISTTI) in Douala.
“I understood that it would be better for me to improve my qualifications, rather than to continue looking for opportunities on the football pitch, so I decided to earn a specialized technical diploma”, he says.
Cédric (left) poses with IOM Douala Head of Sub-Office (Dr. Diallo) after successfully defending his thesis. Photo: IOM
With their newly acquired skills, Georges and Cédric hope to find decent and productive jobs and build the future they dream of.
Since June 2017, more than 3,000 Cameroonians stranded in Libya or Niger have returned home with the support of IOM in the framework of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.
They are eligible for individual, community or collective reintegration packages, an approach by IOM to address, to the extent possible, the drivers of irregular migration.
Like Georges and Cédric, 35 of the returned migrants in Cameroon have opted for vocational education and training for their reintegration. In Georges’ and Cedric’ cases, IOM paid all of their tuition and exam fees to enable them to lessen the financial burden of their education.
This article was written by Serena Pescatore, Communication and Awareness-Raising Officer at IOM Cameroon. For more information on the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, please visit www.migrationjointinitiative.org.