Definition of Youth

The national youth policy (2003) and the draft revised policy (2012) define youth as being between ages of 15 and 35. It also provides for flexibility to accommodate young persons below 15, depending on the nature of programmes.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 18
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • 18
  • XX

  • Male homosexual acts illegal. Female homosexual acts legal. Male homosexual acts carry a punishment of up to life imprisonment. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Child Right Act of Sierra Leone

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 75.84% Male (15-24) %
  • 59.29% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 20.30% Male (13-15) %
  • 24.10% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The National Youth Commission announced a review of the 2003 youth policy in 2012.  The draft version is available.

The national youth policy (2003) established the Ministry for Youth and Sports – now Ministry for Youth Affairs, and outlined the definition, rights and responsibilities of young people, the state, parents, and other stakeholders The vision of the draft national youth policy (2012) is of: "Nationally conscious and patriotic youth empowered to contribute positively to the development of Sierra Leone." The policy has 15 intervention areas, including: Employment; Youth sensitive policies; Entrepreneurship; agriculture; education; ICT; Gender; Health; The environment; Participation; Volunteerism. The policy outlines a mainstreamed approach to implementation, through various actors (youth organisations, NGOs, the private sector) and complimentary policies.  The implementation structure is also outlined.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Youth Affairs (MOYA) – once Ministry of Youth Employment and Sports - is responsible for youth matters. It supervises the National Youth Advisory Council, which supports the policy implementation and connects government and youth clubs. According to the National Youth Commission Act (2009), the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) is a governing board made up of youth representatives and delegates from MOYA and Ministry of Finance and Development. Its programmes include the Career Advisory and Placement Services and District Youth Councils.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Sierra Leone established decentralised representation in the form of District Youth Councils (DYC), elected from Chiefdom Youth Council (CYC) members. A report by Restless Development highlights issues such as DYCs reporting to the Ministry rather than local government, appointed not elected Youth Officers, a lack of resources. More on this in the additional background section. As described in this article, the Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organisations represents the voice of youth associations and is registered at the National Youth Commission.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
No documentation on the budget for youth in Sierra Leone could be found online. According to the World Bank, Sierra Leone spent 14.12% of its government expenditure and 2.88% of its GDP on education provision in 2012.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed May 2014).

Additional Background

From BBC Sierra Leone country profile:
Sierra Leone, in West Africa, emerged from a decade of civil war in 2002, with the help of Britain, the former colonial power, and a large United Nations peacekeeping mission. More than 17,000 foreign troops disarmed tens of thousands of rebels and militia fighters. A decade on, the country has made progress towards reconciliation, but poverty and unemployment are still major challenges.
One of the main employment schemes is Youth Employment Support Project (YESP), founded by the World Bank. It seeks
  • to improve technical capacity and promote creation and/or expansion of small youth owned enterprises in economically viable activities;
  • to improve the skills base of young people to make them more employable;
  • to provide a safety net and income supplement for the most vulnerable youth through;
  • public works;
The 2012 National Youth Commission´s Framework for a National Youth Service provides a national structure for youth participation in the country´s development. Its objectives are:
  • Promoting positive perceptions about young people;
  • Bridging social and cultural;
  • To instill values of volunteerism and working towards toward the collective good through participation in activities that contribute to reducing poverty and transforming society;
  • Instilling discipline and work ethic;
From Restless Development´s 2013 report on youth participation:
  The widespread participation of young voters in the 2012 elections and the significant proportion of candidates under 35 years elected to office, is very encouraging evidence that young people are embracing democracy and have both the will and the ability to play a central role in governance. However, neither the National Youth Policy nor the National Youth Commission Act specify mechanisms or processes through which active participation in governance, decision-making and democratic processes should be realised. It is not clarified how, for example, the District Youth Councils or any other structure created by these instruments, should interact with local councils, ministries or other decision-making bodies when it comes to drawing localised youth issues to their attention, participating in planning processes or holding those bodies to account. Neither does it clarify how to avoid duplication with existing structures, for example whether the Youth Advisory Committees created under the National Youth Commission Act should interact with or supersede the Youth and Sports Committees which already exist at local council level