Following the successful hosting of a 2-day start-up and onboarding meeting by the University of Pretoria in South Africa on April 9th and 10th, 2024, with partners from around the world in attendance, the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria) and partners have formally commenced an innovative new international collaborative study on youths who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET).

The study, which is being carried out in Nigeria and South Africa over a period of five years (2024–2029) titled “Protecting African youth who are NEET against depression: An investigation of differentially impactful, multisystemic resilience enablers,” is funded by Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom, with £5 million (about N8 billion or South African Rand 119 million) under the Wellcome Discovery Awards.

The international collaborative research, the first of its kind on the African continent, is being undertaken by some of the world’s top universities, colleges, institutions, and organisations from Nigeria, South Africa, and around the world. The research consortium led by the University of Pretoria, South Africa, includes Harvard University USA, the University of Dalhousie, Canada, Nottingham University, UK, China, and Malaysia; The New School, USA; the University of Leicester, UK; the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Others are the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), the Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative (MHEI), Nigeria, the Regional Psycho-Social Support Initiative (REPSSI), South Africa, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), and Shout Out UK (SOUK). 

Speaking at the event, Prof. Linda Theron of the University of Pretoria and the leader of the research consortium welcomed partners on board and commended the team for their support, which made the study a reality from the period of grant application in 2022 until date. The Professor of Educational Psychology particularly commended the community partners, including YEAC-Nigeria, saying that the grassroots presence and works of the organisations were instrumental to the approval of the grant application by Wellcome Trust, as the community partners were seen as strategic in the research process to give the study its true meaning of quantitative findings outside the usual academic arm-chair analysis and publications.

L-R: Prof. Olanrewaju Olaniyan (University of Ibadan), Prof. Olufunmilayo Fawale (University College, University of Ibadan), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface (YEAC-Nigeria) and Abba Zion (MHEI) at the event in South Africa on April 9, 2024

Represented at the start-up meeting by its Executive Director, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, the organisation calls on youths in the Niger Delta, especially those in Rivers and Bayelsa States, where the study will focus, to brace up to participate and benefit from the study, which targets 10 Youth Advisory Council (YAC) members and 600 general participants, as it has the potential to put their names on the global academic map and contribute to knowledge on African youths, among others.

Mr. Fyneface also thanked the international partners and professional colleagues for recommending and including YEAC-Nigeria as a community partner in the international collaborative research consortium, which also aims to study 1,000 NEET youths in South Africa and form the Youth Advisory Council of 10 youths in the country.

Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface,

Executive Director, YEAC-Nigeria.

April 10, 2024.