“Change Our World,” UN Secretary-General Ban Says On International Youth Day
By Juliana Chan | Academia
August 10, 2011
International Youth Day this year is a reminder that much more has to be done to support Asia’s youth, says UN Secretary-General Ban.
AsianScientist (Aug. 10, 2011) – “You have the opportunity to change our world. Seize it.” These are the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for International Youth Day, to be observed on August 12 this year.
August 12 also marks the end of the International Year of Youth, and the 25th Anniversary of the first International Year of Youth. Its theme, Change Our World, was chosen to express the level of impact that young people strive to achieve, and also to inspire youth towards these goals.
However, the United Nations World Youth Report 2010 presents a sobering report on Asia’s youth.
Individuals aged between 15 and 24 currently number 1.2 billion and approximately 18 percent of the global population. The vast majority of them, or 62 percent, live in Asia. By 2050 however, the proportion of youth living in Asia is expected to decline to 53 percent.
Of these youth in Asia, approximately 84 percent of them live in countries where at least one third of the population subsists on less than US$2 per day, based on World Bank 2007 statistics.
Unemployment is a pressing issue among this demographic. Globally, youth unemployment stood at 12 percent in 2007, or three times the adult rate. Worryingly, in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, youth unemployment rates was six times those of adults.
For the vast majority of youth living in developing countries, unemployment rates tell only part of the story. Jobs, when available, are non-secure, low-wage, and in agricultural industries.
Education is another essential element in the transition to adulthood. Although the global youth literacy rate increased from 84 percent during the period 1985-1994 to 89 percent during the period 2000-2006, progress has been uneven, with UNESCO reporting youth literacy rates below 80 percent in parts of Asia, and secondary enrollment levels as low as 16 percent in parts of Asia.
Large disparities in educational quality and access also exist within countries owing to factors such as income, location, gender, and ethnicity.
Recognizing these issues, the UN Secretary-General urged private organizations, governments, and the international community to “invest in our youth”. He also recognized the ability of youth to rise up to meet the challenges they faced.
“Far too many of the world’s more than one billion young people lack the education, freedom and opportunities they deserve. Yet, despite these constraints – and in some cases because of them – young people are mobilizing in growing numbers to build a better future,” he said.
Source: United Nations; Ray Witlin / World Bank.
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