Every 12th of August, countries around the world celebrate International Youth Day. It is an annual event begun by the United Nations in 1998 as an awareness day and aims to celebrate the contributions of youth in society. International Youth Day serves as an opportunity to discuss and feature youth issues worldwide.
One issue that the youth faces today is education. In fact, education is one of the Millennium Development Goals. Education is very important because it gives us knowledge to develop skills that can be used in the development of a community. However, education, especially in developing countries, is being undervalued because of poverty, lack of support from the government, and cultural manifestations. The transition from education to the labour market remains a challenge in the region, especially in South East Asia. Another challenge that the region faces is the transition of lower education to upper secondary education, as well as low enrolment of youth to tertiary education. 11% of the world’s youth population (15-24 years old) are illiterate. Young people who are most vulnerable are often the ones being excluded from educational systems.
Education has been agreed to be a priority area by the World Programme of Action for Youth, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1995 and serves as a blueprint for actions at the national and international level to benefit youth around the world. In the area of education, certain proposals are indicated, like improving the level of basic education, promoting human rights education, training for enterprise programmes, vocational and professional training, etc.
The World Youth Alliance gives importance to education. It is one of the pillars of the organization, along with advocacy and culture. We conduct educational programs for youth that help them learn more about their worth and dignity as a person and how they can promote dignity through culture or advocacy. In the Asia Pacific region, WYA established education-related events such as the Sulong Workshop. It is a program wherein we reach out to various communities to open their minds to social issues through interactive discussions and fun activities.
Education is essential because it not only enables better job opportunities, but also helps develop and enhance skills that benefit oneself and society. Like Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, once said, “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan” (“The youth is the hope of our nation”). I believe that providing education for the youth is necessary to produce young citizens that will realize their potentials and utilize their talents for the betterment of the world we live in.
By: Ana Margarita Aquino, intern at WYA Asia Pacific