Voice of the youth rises to be heard

Experts note that the level of secondary education across the CIS remains high, while literacy levels among those aged 15-24 years has reached almost 100 percent
Experts note that the level of secondary education across the CIS remains high, while literacy levels among those aged 15-24 years has reached almost 100 percent. In Belarus, for every 1,000 people aged 14-31 years (an age range which covers more than 23 percent of the population — about 2.2 million people), 169 have higher education, and 245 have specialised secondary education. Interestingly, 82.7 percent of those aged 14-31 years live in cities, while just 17.3 percent live in rural areas.

According to the new United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report for 2014, Investing in Youth, the world has more ‘young’ people than ever before: 1.8 billion: a quarter of the total population. However, too many lack high-quality education, restricting their ability to find worthy work and participate in the political life of their countries. The report stresses that we must support conditions allowing young people to participate in decision-making and helping them to fulfil their potential.

The Executive Director of UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin, notes, “Our shared future depends on how young people’s needs and desires are met. Capital investments into solving their problems (via professional training, education and sexual health) create a reliable foundation on which to oppose the problems associated with an ageing population.”

Improving youth policy aims to attract young people into political life at state level, as well as supporting other aspects. The share of those aged 35 years or less is low among CIS national parliamentary representatives: barely 6 percent, on average. Of these, women under 35 comprise less than 1 percent.

“The United Nations Population Fund in Belarus aspires to involve young people. The Youth Advisory Council has the power to present recommendations to the United Nations concerning youth issues, as well as participating in the work of UN agencies involved in this sphere,” emphasises Elena Kasko, Assistant Representative at the UNFPA. In order to join the Youth Advisory Council, applications must be made by December 15th. Applicants must be aged 14-31 years, have good command of English, and be motivated to take part in meetings.

The Youth Advisory Council comprises 15-20 members, aiming to include representatives of different social strata and interests, as well as varied educational and professional background, and from all regions of the country. They represent a spread across gender, ethnicity and religion, and may be connected with local youth or professional groups.

2015 is the Year of Youth in Belarus, aiming to promote creative, scientific and professional potential, as well as participation in social and economic transformation, fostering of feeling of patriotism and civil responsibility in young citizens. State policy aims to tackle problems facing young people, to improve the social and economic, cultural and national development of the country.

By Veniamin Mikheev
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