Young People Call for Post-Primary Education Opportunities


Kamran Ahmed Soomro

In efforts to address and prevent the often overlooked global youth population falling through programming, policy and funding cracks, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), in collaboration with the IASC Education Cluster, held a Policy Roundtable on “An Enabling Right: Education for Youth Affected by Crisis” in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

Three young people attended and contributed to the three framing papers that shaped discussions on 16-17 November. They spoke with UNICEF podcast moderator Amy Costello from Geneva after the first day of the meeting.

Kashif Khan, 28, from Peshawar, Pakistan, is currently a student in the Department of International Environment and Development Studies also known as Noragric, at the University of Life Science in Norway. Mr. Khan said situations like the recent violence in Haiti stem from psychosocial problems linked to conflict.

When talking to people in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, for example, Mr. Khan found that nearly everyone he met reported “that at times they have psychological problems, and they remember the conflict, and they remember the bursts of gunfire and mortars,” he said. “So I’m sure in Haiti … if a conflict is breaking out there, this is not good news. And the youth must be feeling very, very insecure.”

Continuing education

Hibist Kassa, 24, an Ethiopian refugee in Ghana now completing graduate studies in development financing, said the key to ensuring that young people are engaged and supported is to go beyond the basics of primary school education.

Developing skills at the post-primary and post-secondary level allows young people to be able to engage in more reflective activities, said Ms. Kassa. These skills “enable them to focus on their societies, how they function, what makes the world that they live in tick, and how they can transform that in order to reflect their needs,” she added.

Stephen Gichohi, 24, the director of non-governmental organization Youth Alive! in Nairobi, Kenya, emphasized the importance of making sure school prepares young people for the job market. “The education system [is often] not in tandem with the local needs and the local market,” he noted.

Youth collaboration

Ms. Kassa said the key is collaboration and “ensuring that there’s a lot of youth participation in processes of decision making. That process, she concluded, “ideally should generate the kind of educational programmes and policies that would directly meet the needs of young people.”

INEE – sponsor of the roundtable where these and other points were covered – is a partnership of NGOs, UN agencies, donors, governments, academic institutions, schools and affected populations working together to guarantee the universal right to quality and safe education in emergencies and post-crisis recovery. The discussion in Geneva was presented in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Education Cluster.

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