CAIRO: A UN report on Egyptian youth launched Saturday concluded that nine interrelated constraints face Egyptian youth as they transition from childhood to adulthood.
The nine constraints outlined in “Youth in Egypt: Building the Future,” the 2010 Egypt Human Development Report (EHDR), include “waithood” which is the period in which youth wait for their lives to begin and during which they are financially unable.
The report also outlines education as a major constraint, highlighting the fact that 27 percent of youth between 18 and 29 have not completed their basic education in addition to the fact that education in Egypt as a whole is of low quality.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif attended the report’s launching ceremony on June 27 at the Conrad Hotel, where he outlined several government policies aimed at tackling unemployment and education problems as well as a lack of housing.
"We are all aware that the young confront many challenges and difficulties," he said. "We are on the right course for the development of youth."
Regarding socio-economic status, the report says that around 20 percent of Egyptians are classified as poor, which eventually prevents them enrolling their daughters into school. There is also a labor market-education mismatch whereby there are a large number of students compared to a lack of qualified teachers.
A further constraint is poverty, which, the report says is particularly correlated with the lack of a permanent job, which leads many poor youth to take up whatever employment they can find.
The report explained that youth unemployment is the dominant form of unemployment in Egypt and the most serious kind of youth exclusion. At least 90 percent of those unemployed are less than 30 years old and many more are affected by underemployment.
However, the report notes that unemployment has started to decline, explaining that the male jobless rate has fallen by a third from 32 percent in 1998 to 24 percent in 2009.
As for the family formation constraint, the report says that given the low employment rate and lack of opportunities, more than one third of young people continue to live with their parents upon marriage.
The final constraint is that of housing. The report explains that the forecasted increase in construction costs will likely pose a great budgetary challenge to any low-income housing program in the coming years given that most subsidy programs are tied to specific income levels and unit price targets.
Youth in Egypt: Building the Future analyzes from a human development perspective the opportunities and constraints that face Egypt’s sizeable youth today.
The report is the eleventh in a series of Egypt Human Development Reports that is produced by an independent team headed by Professor Heba Handoussa, the report’s lead author. It is also commissioned by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in collaboration with the Institute of National Planning affiliated to the Ministry of Economic Development.
"Since its debut in 1994, this report has firmly established itself as a reliable analytical tool that positively impacts public discussion on critical national and sub-national human development issues; enriches policy options; paves the way for national investment and international development cooperation; and acts as a source of inspiration for action,” said the launch statement by UNDP Egypt.
This year’s edition examines the role of Egyptian youth in the development process considering issues that includes education, health, gender, poverty, employment, housing, and participation in society.
It also showcases success stories of youth-centered initiatives, programs and projects, calling for greater consultation and communication between young people, the government and civil society.
“The report identifies and assesses the most pressing issues affecting youth in Egypt, with the aim of formulating a ‘vision for youth’ that is based on equity, opportunity, ownership and their participation in the development process," said Osman Mohamed Osman, Minister of State for Economic Development.
In order to achieve a better future for the youth population, the report proposed nine areas that must be addressed to encourage the enhancement of generations.
These areas include overcoming the education system’s failure by achieving a better match between the outputs of educational institutions and the demands of the labor market, in addition to upgrading technical education and reviewing curricula to instill problem-solving skills, entrepreneurial and management capacity, and the value of self-employment.
In addition, the report suggests breaking the cycle of poverty by targeting poor areas and providing them with job training and literacy, as well as creating more job opportunities and helping young people reach respectable government positions.
The report also proposes promoting creative thinking and inventiveness among youth to create novel and original solutions to current problems, and reinstating a culture of tolerance and respect of the other through openness to global world views.
It also underscores the importance of eliminating gender discrimination and adopting legislative and programmatic intervention to fight culturally rooted sources of discrimination.
Other solutions included monitoring young people’s wellbeing, enhancing youth participation for "responsive governance," supporting and regulating migration under a holistic and institutionalized approach and introducing elements that cater to both distributive justice and good investment fundamentals.