MEETING GLOBAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT NEEDS THROUGH QUALITY EDUCATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
Rising youth unemployment and restiveness has been a major global challenge since the start of global financial crisis in 2008 which came with thousands of job losses and liquidation or collapse of big corporations. As economies worsened with deepening hardship and high youth unemployment, the Arab Spring was birthed and is currently sustaining protests in Egypt, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Brazil, Turkey, Syria and other parts of the world. According to International Labour Organization’s report ‘Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013’, 40% of world’s unemployed are young people which represents 73.4 million – 12.6% unemployment rate in 2013, which is an increase of 3.5 million between 2007 and 2013. This figure represents 1 in 8 of young people are unemployed according to ‘Be Skilled Be Employed Be the Changed Generation’, the youth version of ‘Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work’, 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report published in November 2012. This report by UNESCO EFA GMR was a successful outcome of thoughts, efforts, and consultations among hundreds of young people around the world using various social media platforms (Blog, Twitter, Facebook) and coordinated by Peace Child International, UK.
It reveals the extent of the global education crisis especially in developing countries and the consequent effect on young people to acquire relevant life and workplace skills (foundation, transferrable, vocational and technical skills) to get decent productive employment or to effectively run their own entrepreneurial ventures. The most affected are young women, young people with disabilities among the rural and urban poor including young people in conflict zones. It indicates that 200 million of young people in low and medium income are yet to complete primary education, 1/8 of young people are not employed due to lack of skills, ¼ of young people earn less than $1.25 dollars per day among other very unfortunate and unacceptable revelations.
As we mark this year’s International Youth Day, Young people around the world in response to this report are reminded to raise their voices in the continued global campaign for all governments to PUT EDUCATION TO WORK and also to take action in implementing the UN System Wide-Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP).
Youth-SWAP which was produced by the Interagency Network on Youth Development (IANYD) is a plan that derives its mandate from the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) and other intergovernmental agreements will guide the work of the whole UN system, governments, and the private sector to promote young people’s human rights and development needs. These needs include employment, entrepreneurship, education, political inclusion, civic engagement, protection of rights and comprehensive sexual education.
This global campaign by young people demands:
1. More governments, intergovernmental agencies, and development stakeholders to,
a. Understand why education is critical to development and renew their commitment towards it; the time of playing politics with education is long gone.
b. Recognise the importance of second-chance education for young people who missed out on primary education the first time around.
c. Support initiatives that enable smooth transition from education to labour market.
d. Make education more affordable and promote non-formal and formal education.
e. Increase entrepreneurship training and vocational education.
f. Provide easier access to financial services.
2. To see specific mentions of ways governments plan to include girls and the poor in rural and urban areas in skills training plans.
3. Education systems to become more relevant to work, providing general education combined with actual work experience.
While these demands are very important to be met, it is equally very important for governments to direct enormous resources in ensuring that every child has access to quality education that will provide him/her with skills to lead successful self reliant successful lives. 2012 UNESCO EFA GMR reveals that 61 million children are out of school globally, with Nigeria – 10.5, Pakistan – 5.1, Ethiopia - 2.4, and India – 2.3 topping the list in millions. It further reveals that 53% of these 61 million are girls, 250 million of the children who are in school are unable to read and write at grade 4. This brings to 500 million of this generation of girls that will never complete secondary education.
These are very disturbing situation as all of these impacts negatively on the future generation of young people to acquire relevant work and entrepreneurship skills and also find decent employment, future women’s capacity to earn good income, take proper care of their children and families; all of which are pivotal to meeting MDGs and indeed the Post 2015 goals. Meeting the educational, entrepreneurship and employment needs of young people are pivotal to meeting other needs of young people as contained in WPAY, Youth-SWAP and other action frameworks on youth.
As young people, we must not lose hope, we must continue in our striving to acquire the right education, skills and knowledge we require to live our dreams. Let’s continue to build bridges of cooperation that fosters global citizenship, negotiation for peace building and be driving forces for positive social change in our communities and the world as a whole.
Guest blog by Okafor Akachukwu, Head of Programmes at Rural Water & Sanitation Initiatives.