Pakistan and Youth: Pakistan is considered to be the fifth-largest young country in the world. Around 63 percent population of the country comprises youth aged between 15 and 33.
A greater proportion of young people is considered to be a major economic driver for growth and progress.
But are they well-equipped with knowledge, good health and skills, along with rights and choices, to translate their demographic power into substantial social progress? Statistics provide a grim tell-all tale of how this youth bulge comes with a downside in a country like Pakistan where youth unemployment rate stood at 8.5% – one of the highest in the region.
With the lowest female labour force participation rates (LFPR) in South Asia across all age groups, Pakistan is presented with the daunting task to generate additional 1.3 million jobs each year for the next five years to fill this gap.
Pakistan ranks lowest in the region on Youth Development Index
Barring Afghanistan with score of 0.421, Pakistan (0.517) has been ranked lowest among all the regional and neighbouring countries when it comes to latest Youth Development Index.
More worryingly, among the 10 lowest-ranked countries in the Commonwealth, Pakistan is the only poorly performed nation that is not part of Sub-Saharan Africa. On the overall basis, out of 181 countries, Pakistan ranked 162nd on the 2020 Global Youth Development Index that measures the status of young people in 181 countries around the world.
The index ranks countries between 0.00 (lowest) and 1.00 (highest) according to the developments in youth education, employment, health, equality and inclusion, peace and security, and political and civic participation. It looks at 27 indicators including literacy and voting to showcase the state of the world’s 1.8 billion people between the age of 15 and 29.
As per some snapshots of the latest index, Pakistan’s score deteriorated by 64.29 percent, from a relatively low score of 0.168 in 2010.
More concerning was that R&D spending actually contracted over the period in five economies – Pakistan, India (0.626), Mozambique, Sri Lanka (0.747) and Uganda. To solve this problem, it is important to identify the priority levers for innovation policy that enable the digital economy.
A key element of this is to align research with the needs of the digital economy. This will involve closer collaboration between education and industry, so as to develop innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurial culture.
In developing countries, particularly in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Cambodia, improved access to the internet and accurate information has been important for young people as well as greater freedom of movement and opportunity for female youth, particularly in rural areas. Youth, from all consultations, wish to see an end to the practice of child marriage and associated family violence.
Within the region, followed by India, Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh; Afghanistan improved in gender parity in literacy, economic marginalization, early marriage and gender parity in safety and security.
As per latest report, the index further reveals that the conditions of young people have improved around the world by 3.1 percent between 2010 and 2018, but progress remains slow. The Commonwealth Secretariat on Tuesday released its triennial rankings of youth development in 181 countries, with 156 of them recording at least slight improvements in their scores. While the data used in the index pre-dates Covid-19, the report highlights the positive trajectory of youth development, which the virus could reverse for the first time unless urgent action is taken to secure the pre-pandemic gains.