Increased participation of youth, and recognition of their education and employment needs in national development and planning processes are important steps in order to turn a country’s youth bulge into a demographic dividend.

The importance of engaging young men and women in national development is receiving increased attention, especially in those regions of the world where youth are a country’s most abundant asset. The existence of abundant youth energy in emerging and developing economies is undeniable. But this ‘bonus’ will likely go unrealized if today’s youth are denied decent work and livelihoods. The growing population of NEETS (not in education, employment and training) is a concern for many countries.

Limited access to relevant learning opportunities, combined with a lack of employment opportunities is likely to continue to lead to social unrest among the youth population. Similarly, the lack of ‘voice’ in policy and decision-making processes can exacerbate young people’s frustrations. Education systems need to respond to these challenges by expanding opportunities for young people living in uncertain economies to acquire the relevant knowledge, skills and competencies for their effective transition to the world of work.  This implies allowing young people to have a genuine seat at the table in participatory educational planning processes.

Examples of participatory education policy and programme development which have included young people as a stakeholder are limited. In many countries, there is a lack of awareness within the education sector of the benefits and unique insights that young people can bring to the process, and the system still lacks the structures to effectively engage young people in the design, implementation and monitoring of education plans and policies.

Planning education with and for youth

IIEP will focus efforts on supporting ministries in charge of education to plan more effectively with youth at different levels of formal and non-formal education and training sectors. This will entail working with constituencies of policy-makers, planners and young people to identify promising strategies that help plan for meaningful youth engagement as well as to build the capacity of planners to translate these strategies into concrete actions.

IIEP will also encourage and support ministries in charge of education to plan education systems for youth; that is education systems which address the particular educational and employment needs that directly affect young people in a given context.