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Survey: Young People Desire Education, Knowledge and Skills

FILE - A man reads a book while other one takes a nap, at a makeshift 'library' under a bridge, at the Luanda surburbs in Angola, August 22, 2022.

NAIROBI — On the eve of the annual United Nations International Youth Day, marked on Aug. 12, preliminary findings from a new survey reveal that most young people desire to be skilled in preparation for the future.

The survey reports that 40% of more than 700,000 respondents, asked to answer the question: “To improve my well-being, I want …,” identified education, skills and employment as pathways to future security.

Dubbed "What Young People Want," the survey was undertaken by the World Health Organization’s Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, PMNCH, a global alliance for the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.

The PMNCH is aiming to obtain responses from at least 1 million young people by October, when it convenes the Global Forum for Adolescents — a virtual gathering focused on adolescent well-being.

The virtual event aims to mobilize political and financial commitments to meet the needs of 1.8 billion adolescents and youth.

Helga Fogstad, executive director of PMNCH, says the alliance is explicitly including the voices of young people in developing the Agenda for Action for adolescents.

"We want to include the voices and opinions of young people aged 10-24 in the world’s largest effort exploring their hopes and aspirations for their future," Fogstad said.

The survey sampled young people between the ages of 10 and 24, including youth in low and middle-income countries. More than two-thirds (68.8%) of respondents were from the African region, followed by Southeast Asia with 27.5% of the respondents.

The World Bank says sub-Saharan Africa, home to the world's youngest population, is a critical region for focusing on strengthening people's knowledge and skills.

Maziko Matemvu, a youth advocate from Malawi, told VOA the survey is aiming for "inclusivity and equity and particularly targeting hard-to-reach communities."

"Adolescents all over the world face different challenges, but statistics and research show that adolescent girls, especially from Africa, are disproportionately affected,” Matemvu said.

PMNCH is using both digital technology and face-to-face outreach through youth mobilizers to collect responses.

David Imbago, a member of the International Youth Health Organization and the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Well-being, says the use of technology is giving a voice to many who haven’t had an opportunity to contribute their opinions.

"We are relying on technology — chat board, which is a fantastic outreach opportunity, but also still using face-to-face, going to the village level and asking young people what they want," Imbago said.

The youth mobilizers are active at the community level in more than 20 participating countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, including Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, India, Indonesia and others.

According to PMNCH, real-time of the ongoing survey can be found on a digital dashboard, "enabling users to analyze data and trends by topic, gender, age, and country."

The final findings will be released at the global forum in October.