When my team and I started working on the World Development Report 2013, slightly more than a year ago, we were puzzled. We had been asked to write about jobs, and there was no doubt that they were a major concern around the world. Events such as the global crisis or the Arab spring had put jobs center stage. In developing countries, finding employment opportunities for massive numbers of youth entering the labor force was urgent. Middle-income countries were struggling to move up the value-added ladder in production and to extend the coverage of social protection. Technology and globalization were changing the nature of work worldwide. In all cases, jobs were at stake. And they were clearly one of the main preoccupations of policy makers everywhere.
Last week, we launched a global conversation on what will it take... to end poverty? ....for your family to be better off? .... for all to get an education? This week, people from around the world joined the discussion with their own question: #whatwillittake for youth to get better jobs?
For me, one of the most fruitful aspects of ‘field trips’ such as last week’s visit to see Oxfam’s work in the Philippines is the exchange it sets up in my head between the academic literature and debates I’ve been ploughing through in the UK, and the reality of our work on the ground. A good trip confirms, improves or adds to your thinking, and occasionally shows you that you have got it all wrong. This was particularly true on this occasion as our staff and partners in the Philippines are both real thinkers (one guy passed a long car ride by listening to a lecture on Hegel on his laptop ‘for fun’) and activists (more on that tomorrow). The quality of discussions in a Manila seminar on active citizenship and food justice was truly impressive – nuanced and open minded, with no sign of the dogmatic, fissiparous Left I saw on my last visit in 1998 (when I had to give the same lecture twice because different fractions refused to sit in the same room). First some (relatively minor) new insights from all these interactions:
A few months ago, there was an interesting news story on National Public Radio (NPR) about the experience of “first globals,” a generation of 20 to 30 year old public service oriented Americans that are increasingly living, studying, and working abroad. John Zogby, an American political pollster, was credited in this news piece as having chronicled this trend in his book, The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream. In Zogby’s description of first globals, a term he coined, he described this generation on NPR by stating:"Two out of three of them have passports. They are well-traveled; technologically they have networks that include people all over the world. They have a desire to be nimble, to go anywhere and to be anywhere. They also have a desire to change their world and feel like they're in a position to do that."
This phenomenon has a lot of promise in the area of development, where the combination of shared experience, youth networks, and strategic engagement has the potential to address some of the most complex global challenges.
Sirikarn, a Thai university student, opted for a bachelor's degree taught in English. English language skills open more job opportunities and make further education abroad possible. Photo: Gerhard Jörén / World Bank
Welcome to the new blog for Youthink! -- where youth from around the world can share ideas and stories on global development.
As you can see, we’ve made some changes from the previous Youthink! site. With our new blog home, we hope to increase engagement with you and make it easier than ever to share ideas and learn about development.
As we drive along the semi-paved roads leading out of Juba, I wonder somewhat despondently how this one-year-old country that has been so deeply affected by conflict can prosper and grow with a literacy rate of just 27 percent. When we reach our destination—a tiny school that caters to poor children who are orphaned or with no family support, we are greeted by a loud welcome song. Children chant in a colorfully decorated hut led by a swaying young teacher whose baby sleeps peacefully on her back.
The vibe in the hut energizes me, and I begin to realize what the resilience of this nation is all about. Some of the facts in a new report on education in South Sudan start to come alive to me. This country has come a long way within a short period of time, but still has a very long way to go to catch up with the rest of Africa. Some of the children in this hut are among the 700,000 more students who were able to enroll in school between 2005 and 2009.
Thousands of schoolchildren in the northwest region of Cameroon are benefiting from a co-investment schoolbook program established by Knowledge for Children (KFC), a Cameroon-Dutch based non-governmental organization (NGO).
-Despite high enrollment rates, one in two students in Cameroon leaves school without basic literacy skills, a metric that is significantly worse among students without access to textbooks
-In the northwest region of Cameroon, a local development project has made school books available to more than 27,000 children in rural primary schools, which provides the potential to hugely enhance a student’s academic performance
-Since 2005, the number of primary school students in the northwest region with access to books has increased from 15% to 25%
“if you think education is expensive, try ignorance” Manjong Sixtus, Delegate for Basic Education, Donga-Mantung
During the 2010 – 2011 academic year, 95 schools participated in the program that has made school books available to children in rural primary schools. But, thanks to a US$20,000 (XAF 10,470.900) grant awarded during the 2011 Development Marketplace competition in Cameroon, KFC has been able to extend the program to 15 new schools during the 2011-2012 academic year, bringing the total number of participating schools to 110 and reaching 27,500 children.
Do you want to learn more about development issues and how they impact the world? Are you ready to get involved? The following organizations can help you find information on how to volunteer or meet others who share a passion for making the world a better place:
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Work is central to people’s lives and identity. For many, participating in the labor market is important beyond its obvious economic rewards as it also provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Conversely, labor deprivation impedes economic growth and leads to a feeling of emptiness and exclusion.
Yet, it is not uncommon to see large differences in attitudes towards employment across social groups. Urban residents, for example, are typically louder in voicing their labor market complaints than rural residents, even though living conditions in rural areas are known to be worse.
Available in: français
In my country, Haiti, the agricultural sector represents 25 percent of GDP and accounts for over 50 percent of jobs. However, agricultural occupations are extremely insecure and do not permit farmers and their families to live in a dignified manner. Over two-thirds of the inhabitants of rural regions are poor, and agriculture is their main source of income. (Source in French: Haitian Institute of Statistics and Information Technology)
Cities are often violent places – a social, ethnic and religious tinderbox of people piled up together with competing needs for space, housing or cash. Mostly the tension is contained, but not always - when and why does it spill over into bloody mayhem? That’s the question at the heart of a fascinating research project run by Caroline Moser, one of my development heroes, and Dennis Rodgers. The research team fed back on its findings in Geneva last week. They have a draft overview paper here and welcome any comments by the end of June (as comments on this post, or if you want to get really stuck in, emailed to urbantippingpoint@Manchester.ac.uk). Here’s a summary of the discussion in Geneva.
The Urban Tipping Point scanned the literature and identified four ‘conventional wisdoms’ on the causes, not always based on much evidence: they are poverty; ‘youth bulges’ (demographic, rather than waistlines); political exclusion and gender-based insecurity. It decided to test these with empirical research in four very dissimilar cities - Nairobi (Kenya), Dili (Timor-Leste), Santiago (Chile) and Patna (India).
Imagine you are a poor child from Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, and have a dream to become a soccer star. Some young players come close to this dream when the International School (ISK) in Nairobi hosts its annual “Nairobi Mini World Cup”.
The Mini World Cup started after ISK’s Principal of the Elementary School, Patricia Salleh Matta, introduced a Saturday sports program three years ago and opened the school not just to its own students but to many communities around the school.
My 11-year-old son Marco and I have a passion for soccer (we call it football). In order to advance the game at ISK, where he goes, I got involved in coaching and eventually became the school’s “Soccer Commissioner.” As such, my main task is to organize soccer tournaments. The highlight of our year is the annual "Nairobi Mini World Cup," which has become a fixture for many schools and soccer clubs in the city.
In preparation for Sri Lanka’s next Country Partnership Strategy with the World Bank, we’ve been consulting with numerous groups, including those representing youth, for their ideas and feedback. Traveling to all corners of the country and interacting with many youth groups in Sri Lanka, it is clear that youth want more -- more opportunities, more facilities, more acceptance, more inclusion.
In contrast, discussing the same issues with the older generation, their view is that youth are unskilled, lack exposure to real-world challenges, are not dependable, and are too picky about available jobs.
The gap between the perceptions and aspirations of the two groups seems like the two rails of a railway track that are never destined to meet.
We have all heard the buzz: How the Internet has changed the world; how social networks are allowing young people to voice their aspirations and organize to bring real changes on the ground; and how the developing world is awash in mobile phones and hyper-connected youngsters.