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The Future of Youth in South Sulawesi, Indonesia:

An exploration of youth development assets, empowerment, engagement & implications for sustainability, and cocoa farming

Mars Foods Inc, in collaboration with Swisscontact and the Millennium Challenge Account, is implementing a pilot program as part of a broader initiative to engage the next generation of young people (18-35 year old) in the Indonesian cocoa farming ecosystem. The NextGen Project is conceived on the principles of positive youth development and envisages a STEM-Agriculture based participatory design curriculum in three Sekolah Menengah Kejuruans (SMK) in rural cocoa communities of Bone Bone, Tomoni, and Walenrang as a way to strengthen engagement of youth and contribute to professionalization of cocoa farming in the province of South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The NextGen Project utilizes the principles of positive youth development, as well as a STEM-Agriculture based participatory design curriculum in three SMKs (mentioned above). The project’s goal supports local communities’ socio-economic resiliency via capacity building of the next generation of professional cocoa farmers capable of delivering a sustainable supply of cocoa. The project also provides a platform for the establishment of collaborative relationships between vocational schools, youth, cocoa farmers, and community members; and was designed to be highly participatory and allow active engagement and collaboration with the community and local stakeholders throughout the project cycle to ensure continuous adaptive management and validation of the NextGen intervention strategy.

In 2018, the Institute for Development Impact (I4DI) was commissioned by Mars Foods Inc, in and Swisscontact to carry out a baseline study for the NextGen project to inform its design and implementation. The purpose of the study was to identify, collect, analyze, and document the existing developmental assets of youth in and around cocoa farming communities. The study was carefully designed to provide gender disaggregated, in-depth insight into the developmental assets of youth in cocoa farming communities. These assets include their hopes, aspirations, motivations, and resilience. The study also aimed to understand their perceptions on evidence-based science, STEM teaching and learning process in vocational schools, cocoa farming, and the drivers of youths’ future involvement in cocoa sectors.

Based on data collected for the baseline study described above, this report has been further developed and refined for a broader audience interested in youth development, sustainability, agriculture, and cocoa farming in Indonesia and has been released in May 2019.

Respondent Profile

604 technical school students in South Sulawesi were surveyed. What follows is a breakdown of respondents’ basic demographic information (gender, age, year in school) and plans post-graduation and five years later.

Average Age


Age Range




This report provides gender disaggregated data so you can understand the differences and similarities in perspectives between girls and boys. Gender filters are located in the navigation bar at the top of your browser screen. Apply a filter to see results by gender.

Respondents were asked to share their plans both immediately after completing vocational school and 5 years down the line.

After Graduation

Click the button above to interact with the data

Household Profile

Students came from a variety of diverse backgrounds, and the figures and charts below represent the profile of their households and family composition.

Wealth Ranking Perception

Wealth Ranking was determined by asking respondents to share their perception of their household’s wealth on a six-step ladder- with the bottom rung (Step 1) being very poor and the top being very rich (Step 6).

Parent's Education

What are your parents’ highest levels of education?

Parent's Occupation

What are your parents’ occupations?

Digital & Internet Access

Students were also surveyed on household ownership of digital devices and internet access- providing a snapshot of the digital divide and insights on how and where students are accessing the internet.

Have a computer

at home

Own a


How do you access the internet?

Youth Development Assets

Youth development assets are “positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed.” (Source: Search Institute) Furthermore, youth development assets have been broken down into two categories- internal and external.

Internal assets represent factors contained within an individual (social-emotional strength, values, etc), and external assets represent factors that reside outside an individual’s direct control (families, schools, communities, etc). You can drill down further and view the individual components and responses used to create this study-specific youth development asset snapshot. Scores for each aggregate and individual components range from 0-100, with 100 representing the highest possible “score.”

Click the buttons and circles below to interact with the data.

Youth Development Asset Ratings

Internal External

Youth Empowerment

For this study, youth empowerment has been defined as a young person’s perceptions on their ability to be heard, make a difference in their communities, and be taken seriously by adult members in their community. Taken with youth development assets, this further paints a picture on the readiness of youth to positively engage their communities.

Students were asked a series of questions about their perceived influence and impact in their local communities to determine overall levels of youth engagement potential.

Civic Engagement & Youth

While the results on youth development assets and empowerment suggest youth are well-resourced and ready to positively engage their communities, this section explores the actualization of those perceptions and confidence in community engagement.

Civic Action

Have you ever discussed or taken action regarding problems affecting your school or community?

Selected Yes

Community Voice

In the last year, has the village or sub-district government asked for your opinions and ideas

Selected Yes

Ideas to Action

The last time the local government asked for your opinions and ideas, do you feel your ideas were put into practice?

Selected Yes

Youth Perceptions of Cocoa Farming

Cocoa plays a big role in not just the local economy in South Sulawesi, but also in Indonesia and in the global market for chocolate. Here’s a deeper look at youth perceptions on cocoa farming, future success, and difficulties associated with cocoa farming.

Youth Interest in Cocoa Farming

Perceptions of Difficulty in Farming

Perceptions of Future Prosperity

Here is a look at data on perceptions of prosperity starting with the individual and extending to family and Indonesia at large.


The following suggestions offer considerations for youth development and cocoa sector stakeholders in South Sulawesi and reflect responses provided by students, analysis, and key findings outlined above.

Local government officials, community leaders, and NGOs in South Sulawesi

Opportunity: Create opportunities to engage youth in community actions. Youth is a valuable community resource. The conditions for positive social action exist, especially as youth report high levels of trust, positive perceptions from adults and eagerness to make an impact in their communities. 

School administrators and teachers in technical schools in South Sulawesi:

Opportunity: Cultivate critical thinking to foster creativity, enhance capacity, and prepare students for the future. Focus on training teachers and employing innovative teaching methods that incorporate critical thinking skills in every lesson and subject.

Local businesses and corporations, such as cocoa sourcing and processing companies, in South Sulawesi:

Opportunity: Businesses seeking to professionalize smallholder farming should curtail the barriers to entry into commercial supply chains and catalyze innovation and enterprise development in communities. Although some youth fear obstacles to entering the cocoa sector, a sizable proportion intend to remain in South Sulawesi and feel optimistic about success in cocoa farming as a profession. 

International development professionals and social impact investors (youth and agriculture):

Opportunity: International development professionals and social impact investors seeking to secure sustainable agriculture through engaging the next generation should consider the importance of youth development assets and utilize this study’s data collection instrument. In addition to internal strengths, the instrument explores the conditions and weaknesses of youth support systems, helps reveal the constraints that youth face in smallholder reliant agricultural communities, and creates programming that addresses the complexities and leverages evidence-based insights. This methodology can help design related future studies and develop learning agendas to explore changes to these or similar indicators over time. The report appendix includes the data collection instrument for the related baseline study.

Study Methodology and Scope

Three important factors influenced I4DI’s methodological approach utilized in this study. In discussion with Mars Foods Inc, and Swisscontact, I4DI incorporated theories related to Positive Youth Development. Embracing the foundational thesis that young people inherently possess countless positive assets that can be channeled toward improving their own lives, their families, and the lives of those residing in their communities, this study and the NextGen project approach youth as valued and recognized assets that are part of the solution and not a problem.

Second, I4DI utilized a participatory, human-centered design approach, where youth and the members of their communities are not considered objects of development, but active protagonists. This shared understanding among Mars Foods Inc, Swisscontact and I4DI is based on the conviction that these youth and community members are recognized as capable and respectfully engaged in the research process.

Finally, I4DI integrated concepts from developmental evaluations to inform the methodological approach in this study and the corresponding Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for the NextGen pilot. Development evaluation approach lands itself well to this context as it offers implementing partners a platform for understanding the activities of a program operating in dynamic, novel environments with complex interactions. This approach allowed for a continuous feedback loop between Mars Foods Inc, and Swisscontact as implementers and the communities as partners in the development process, enabling innovation and strategic learning.

To maintain methodological rigor throughout the study process, I4DI worked with, Payo-Payo, a local research and data collection agency located in Makassar, local and international Mars Inc. staff and Swisscontact. This highly collaborative process ensured the high fidelity of research approaches, instruments, and corresponding analysis to accomplish its purpose and objectives. Data for this report and companion set of interactive visualizations were collected in August and September 2017 by Payo Payo, a local data collection firm in Indonesia. Quantitative surveys were conducted with 604 students from 3 technical high schools (SMKs) in South Sulawesi Indonesia. Technical high schools are an alternative education path in parallel to traditional high schools in Indonesia (SMAs). For additional context and triangulation of analysis findings, 57 focus group discussions and interviews were conducted with pertinent stakeholders including teachers, farmers, parents, and youth.

For the youth development asset contained in this report, the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) framework developed by the Search Institute was drawn from to measure and better understand youth developmental assets among technical school students surveyed in South Sulawesi. Contextualization and adaptations to the standard DAP instrument were made through a participatory process and in collaboration with the community, school and youth representatives. Furthermore, while generally there were no statistically significant differences by gender or age, the ability to filter by gender has been included throughout the interactive visualizations presented in the companion site and provided raw data set here.

Mindful of the privacy of students and institutions who participated in the study, results contained in this report have been aggregated across locations and schools. Personally identifiable information has been removed from data collected for the accompanying publicly shared dataset.


This publication was produced by the Institute for Development Impact (I4DI) with the support from Mars Foods Inc, in collaboration with Swisscontact and the Millennium Challenge Account. Several members of the I4DI team worked on and contributed to this report and companion set of interactive visualizations:

Samuel S. Lee
Azra Kacapor Nurkic, PhD
Michael Ferris

In addition to the lead team above - Steven Lichty, Bridget Lavin, and Peter Blankenship contributed to a previous version of this report. All data were collected by Payo Payo, a local partner firm in Makassar, Indonesia with Karno Batiran and Nurhady Sirimorok leading the Payo Payo field research teams in South Sulawesi.

The authors would like to thank Mars Food Inc., and Swisscontact teams for their insights and effort in providing feedback to draft versions of the document, which informed the development of this report.

Suggested citation

If you decide to cite this report, the recommended citation is:

Institute for Development Impact. “The Future of Youth in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.” 2019.

If you decide to utilize underlying data provided above, the recommended citation is:

Institute for Development Impact, Millennium Challenge Account, Mars Inc., Swisscontact. “NextGen Project Baseline Study: Youth in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.” 2018.

Key contacts

Institute for Development Impact Mars Foods Inc Swisscontact
Manny Sanchez Andi Fitriani

May 2019


At I4DI, we believe that data on development should be open and free for re-use with the caveats that respondents understand and have consented to such use and that personally identifiable information has been removed from publicly-shared datasets. Additionally, local respondents and stakeholders have received a separate readout of the results that pertain to their schools and locales translated into Bahasa.

Along with this, we believe that data collection instruments and analysis logic should also be transparently shared and open for re-use. You can find a more detailed write-up and set of resources in the downloadable report.

If you decide to utilize underlying data provided above, the recommended citation is:

Institute for Development Impact, Millennium Challenge Account, Mars Inc., Swisscontact. “NextGen Project Baseline Study: Youth in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.” 2018.