As Nigeria joins other countries around the world to celebrate the International Youth Day, an increasing number of Nigerian youths struggle to face economic uncertainty and social exclusion, resulting into majority of them into gambling and crimes while the rest continue to live in penury and deprivation.
Whereas the number of youths entering the labour market yearly, earlier estimated at 1.8 million, has continued to increase, while the economy’s job-creating capacity is on the decline, economists have suggested.
Nigeria is ranked 161st on the 2020 Global Youth Development Index which reveals the conditions of young people in 181 countries around the world, according to the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The triennial rankings report released by the Commonwealth Secretariat shows that 156 out of 181 countries recorded slight improvements in their scores. The index ranks countries between 0.00 (lowest) and 1.00 (highest) a cording to the development in youth education, employment, health, equality and inclusion, peace and security and political and civil participation.
Furthermore, it looks at 27 indications including literacy and voting to showcase the state of the world’s 1.8 billion people between the age of 15 and 29.
Singapore ranked top for the first time followed by Slovenia, Norway, Malta and Denmark. Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Niger came last respectively.
Afghanistan, India, Russia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso were the top five improvers, advancing their score, on average, by 15.74 per cent. On the other hand, Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Jordan and Lebanon showed the greatest decline in youth development between 2010 and 2018.
Overall, the index shows advances in youth’s participation in peace processes and their education, employment, inclusion and health care since 2010.
Health made the largest gains of 4.39 per cent driven by a 1.6 per cent decline in global youth mortality rates and a 2 per cent drop in each HIV, self-harm, alcohol abuse and tobacco use. Sub-Saharan Africa made the greatest strides in improving the health of young people.
However, the level of underemployed youth and dropouts remain constant. Advances in equality and inclusion are led by improved gender parity in literacy as well as fewer child marriage cases and pregnancies in girls under 20. Yet no progress occurred in women’s safety.
Youth participation in politics is the only domain to record a decline in most parts of the world, reporting a deterioration in 102 countries.
Globally, Sweden leads on education, Luxembourg on equality and inclusion, Indonesia on political and civic participation while Singapore tops the employment, health, and peace and security domains.
According to the Commonwealth Secretary General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC “Young people are indispensable to delivering a future that is more just, inclusive, sustainable and resilient.”
Youth development is a vital tool in enhancing the capacity to assess the extent to which youth engage to contribute beneficially in their societies and empowered by enabling policies and tools, she said.
She added that the findings indicate areas where progress was being achieved and where it was not, and that urgent action is now needed so that pre-pandemic gains are not lost but sustained and developed further, more broadly and more inclusively.
Commonwealth countries’ average youth development score improved by 2.8 per cent, slightly behind the global average of 3.1 per cent. Of the 48 Commonwealth countries included in the index, 40 improved their scores.