A new report shows that South Africa lags behind in the ranking of countries that have improved youth development.
Youth participation in politics has also fallen globally, prompting the ANC Youth League to call for greater youth participation in the country’s political life and development.
This was featured in the Global Youth Development Index 2020 released this week by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The index, a three-year ranking of youth development in 181 countries, ranked South Africa 131st, which was only 50 places above the last bottom country, Niger.
The survey ranked countries on progress in youth education, employment, health, equality and inclusion, peace and security, and political and civic participation.
It looked at 27 indicators, including literacy and voting, to present the state of the world’s 1.8 billion people between the ages of 15 and 29.
ANC Youth League ‘concerned’
The ANC Youth League has welcomed the fact that the Global Youth Development Index 2020 has shown an improvement in the situation of young people across the world.
“While the improvement is marginal in most developing countries like (our) country, we also take stock that the Covid-19 disease has affected young people the most, as opportunities for development have been affected by the global pandemic,” said Nonceba Mhlauli, ANCYL National Task Team Leader.
Mhlauli said, “We are also concerned that youth participation in politics is the only area to register a decline in most parts of the world. The African continent is the youngest continent with an average age of 19 years.
Mhlauli said that South Africa’s population being predominantly young, this necessitates that young people participate in the political life of their country as they are the sole beneficiaries of such a country.
“As the Youth League, our task is therefore to mobilize young people to become active participants in the development process of their country.”
The index further revealed that conditions for young people improved by 3.1% globally between 2010 and 2018, but progress remains slow. The index showed that of the 181 countries, 156 saw at least slight improvements in their scores.
At the top of the list was Singapore, followed by Slovenia, Norway, Malta and Denmark.
In Africa, South Africa, at number 131, managed to beat Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Niger, who were at the bottom.
Afghanistan, India, Russia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso were the top five countries, advancing their score by an average of 15.74%. In contrast, Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Jordan and Lebanon recorded the largest drop in youth development between 2010 and 2018.
Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland QC said: “Young people are essential to delivering a more just, inclusive, sustainable and resilient future. By measuring their contributions and needs with hard data, our advocacy for their development becomes more powerful, and we are then able to incrementally increase the positive impact and benefits that young people can bring to building a better future for all of us.
“As we strive to recover and rebuild from the many consequences of the pandemic, we must make the most of the energy and idealism of youth so that new opportunities for social, economic and politics are open to present and future generations. young people equipped and empowered to realize their potential.
In terms of global trends, overall the index showed progress in youth participation in peace processes and in their education, employment, inclusion and health care since 2010.
Health recorded the largest gains of 4.39%, due to a 1.6% drop in global youth mortality rates and a 2% drop in HIV, self-harm, alcohol abuse and smoking.
Sub-Saharan Africa has made the greatest progress in improving the health of young people.
The report says levels of underemployed youth and those not in school, training or work have remained constant.
Advances in equality and inclusion have been led by improved gender parity in literacy as well as fewer instances of child marriage and pregnancies among girls under 20. Yet no progress has been made on women’s safety.
The overall education score increased by 3%, with South Asia achieving the greatest improvement of 16%, followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 10%. Peace and security improved by 3.41%, thanks to a decrease in the number of young people dying as a result of direct violence.
Youth participation in politics is the only area to register a decline in most regions of the world, reporting a deterioration in 102 countries.
However, Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a 5% improvement in the average regional score.
Among its recommendations, the index called for more investment in lifelong digital skills training for young people, mental health services, apprenticeships, road safety and young people’s participation in decision-making in order to reverse trends that have a negative impact on them.
He further urged governments to improve education data collection and diversify how they measure young people’s digital skills and online engagement.