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Agencies set plan of action for youth

Agencies set plan of action for youth


by Carlos James in London

Youth participation is of critical importance to the formation of the Youth Development Index. That’s the word coming from Deputy Director of the Youth Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Andrew Simmons.

His comment comes after a two-day consultation, which ended last week Tuesday, focussed on formalising a plan of action for youth through the development of a youth index. {{more}}

The index, which will allow policy makers to measure and shape the direction of youth development in various countries across the commonwealth, is currently being compiled and agreed upon by a number of international development agencies.

The YDI forum took global prominence last week, bringing together participants from the United Nations, World Bank and other youth development agencies. The grouping compiled a list of indicators that will allow the pooling of information on youth, which will provide a standard guide for governments and development agencies to use in addressing youth issues.

But the deputy director maintains, while all these indicators are relevant, youth participation must take priority in the formalising of the index.

“It would be extremely easy to quantify the other indicators from the YDI, but how do we measure the quality of participation from young people in developmental and political processes‚ in terms of the qualitative aspect of it, how do we measure whether young people are being empowered to participate?” Simmons questioned.

Simmons, a past director of the St. Vincent Teacher’s Credit Union (SVTCU) and founding member of the JEMS Progressive Community Organisation in Enhams, noted that in most developing countries 60 per cent of the population are youth, and while young people represent two-thirds of the population of the commonwealth the current Human Development Index (HDI) does not capture the majority of the issues pertaining to young people.

“The problem with the HDI is it gives you a general outlook of people itself while the youth index will give governments and development agencies an indication of how young people are performing and what steps can be taken to improve their lives,” Simmons said.

He stated that there is a strong indication of commitment from partnering agencies in putting the index together. He said a coordinating committee will be formalised, spearheaded by the Secretariat, to further refine the processes for the implementation of the youth index which will focus on youth unemployment, health, education among other socio-economic issues.

“After developing and testing the various indicators of the index it would be available for global use within the next three years,” Simmons told Searchlight.

Opening the session last Monday, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon said setting up such an index will fulfil key aspects of youth development. The Secretary-General noted that in order to improve what we can do for young people we need to know accurately what are their needs and opportunities.

“Youth are very much the challenge we have to face all the time, as some 30,000 young kids die everyday from preventative diseases around the world and half the world’s population are young people. In order to help improve young people we need to see where they fit into our picture.” McKinnon said.