Saturday, August 13, 2011


I wish to refer to the content of the World Development Report which featured much on the youth. It identified three policy directions for helping the youth develop themselves and contribute to society: expanding opportunities, enhancing capabilities and providing second chances. Paul D. Wolfowitz President World Bank Group, in hid forward wrote, “The time has never been better to invest in young people living in developing countries—that is the message of this year’s World Development Report, the twenty-ninth in the series. The number of people worldwide aged 12–24 years has reached 1.3 billion, the largest in history. It is also the healthiest and best educated—a strong base to build on in a world that demands more than basic skills. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s workers, entrepreneurs, parents, active citizens, and, indeed, leaders. And, because of falling fertility, they will have fewer children than their parents as they move through adulthood. This in turn may boost growth—by raising the share of the population that is working and by boosting household savings. Rich and poor countries alike need to seize this opportunity before the aging of societies closes it. Doing so will enable them to grow faster and reduce poverty even further. This Report examines five pivotal phases of life that can help unleash the development of young people’s potential with the right government policies: learning, working, staying healthy, forming families, and exercising citizenship. Within each of these transitions, governments need not only to increase investments directly but also to cultivate an environment for young people and their families to invest in themselves. The Report identifies three policy directions for helping youth develop themselves and contribute to society: expanding opportunities, enhancing capabilities, and providing second chances.
Investing in young people strongly contributes to the Bank’s overarching mission of fighting poverty At the same time, investing in young people is a challenge for governments in all countries, rich and poor. It is my hope that this Report contributes to addressing this challenge by sharing the experiences of countries where young people, supported by good policies and institutions, have been able not only to cope but to flourish—and in the process, contribute to a future of hope and opportunity for all generations.

Most policy makers know that young people will greatly influence the future of their nations. Trying to help, they face dilemmas. When primary school completion has gone up so dramatically, thanks to public investment, why does illiteracy seem so persistent? Why do large numbers of university graduates go jobless for months or even years, while businesses complain of the lack of skilled workers? Why do young people start smoking, when there are very visible global campaigns to control it? What is to be done with demobilized combatants, still in their late teens, who can barely read but are too old to go to primary school? Tough questions, these, and there are many more. The answers are important for growth and poverty reduction. This World Development Report offers a framework and provides examples of policies and programs to address the issues.
Decisions during five youth transitions have the biggest long-term impacts on how human capital is kept safe, developed, and deployed: continuing to learn, starting to work, developing a healthful lifestyle, beginning a family, and exercising citizenship. The report’s focus on these transitions defines our choice of whom to include as “the next generation.” Because they take place at different times in different societies, the report does not adhere to one defined age range, but it takes 12–24 years as the relevant range to cover the transitions from puberty to economic independence.
Young people and their families make the decisions—but policies and institutions also affect the risks, the opportunities, and ultimately the outcomes. Putting a “youth lens” on these policies, the report presents three strategic directions for reform:

• Opportunities. Broaden the opportunities for developing human capital by expanding access to and improving the quality of education and health services; by facilitating the start to a working life; and by giving young people a voice to articulate the kind of assistance they want and a chance to participate in delivering it.
• Capabilities. Develop young people’s capabilities to choose well among these opportunities by recognizing them as decision-making agents and by helping ensure that their decisions are well informed, adequately resourced, and judicious.
• Second chances. Provide an effective system of second chances through targeted programs that give young people the hope and the incentive to catch up from bad luck—or bad choices.

Invest in young people—now
The situation of young people today presents the world with an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate growth and reduce poverty. First, thanks to the development achievements of past decades, more young people are completing primary school and surviving childhood diseases. However, to succeed in today’s competitive global economy, they must be equipped with advanced skills beyond literacy; to stay healthy, they must confront new disease burdens, such as sexually transmitted diseases and obesity. Second, lower fertility rates in many countries mean that today’s youths will enter the workforce with fewer nonworking dependents, and thus fewer to support. If they remain unemployed for long periods, though, they could be a drain on the economy.

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