Young people in the developing world

Young people all over the world face challenges, but in the developing world there are additional pressures.  According to UNESCO 20% of young people in developing countries fail to finish primary school and consequently lack the necessary skills for finding employment and improving their lives. Despite this, many young people are forced to work to survive and end up working for very little money. Many are essentially self-employed.

The 2013 meeting of the International Labour Organization found that even though apprenticeships are available in developing countries, they are frequently unpaid with no certainty of employed work after training is completed.

In contrast, the World Bank note that it is becoming easier for entrepreneurs in the developing world to set up businesses, but only, according to the Wall Street Journal, if they are prepared to be flexible and innovative, compared to traditional developed world business strategies. Acting on this, communities like Business Fights Poverty aim to provide a framework so that the youth in developing countries, who are self-employed, can become self supporting.

In an article in BMC International Health and Human Rights, author Caroline Kabiru discusses the difficulties many young people face in their daily lives, and the lack of research into their health and well being. She points out that while we know the long term impacts of low education levels, there is a lack of research into how to increase access to education and keep children in school.

However, Caroline Kabiru also points out that education is not just a ‘heal-all’ plaster.  The impact of urbanization, with its overtones of poverty and overcrowding, negatively affects health. While globalization increases expectations and exposes youth in developing countries to western values and culture which they are not prepared to deal with. Other everyday issues include the impact of health care which often treats young people as adults while, oppositely, a lack of sex education increases the threat of HIV. Not least are the challenges of growing up in a war zone.  Young people are not only victims of war but frequently have to fight. The reintegration of these people back into society is an under researched topic both in terms of their social and economic needs.

African Economic Outlook predict that things are getting better, and that by 2030 more young people will not only be able to finish primary school but will be able to finish secondary school and even go on to further education. They envisage that 59% of 20-24 year olds will have had secondary education in 2030, compared to 42% today. Along with research and implementation of evidence into policies affecting youth this can only help in increasing employment and improving lives, while simultaneously addressing the health issues and well being of the young.

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