UNICEF Launches Its Flagship Publication Together with Adolescents
YEREVAN, 4 March 2011 – Boys and girls aged 15-17 and representing various social backgrounds and provinces of Armenia today talked about their problems and available opportunities during the launch of UNICEF’s 2011 State of the World’s Children Report “Adolescence: an Age of Opportunity” .
Young spokespersons raised a number of challenges that Armenian adolescents face today and encouraged media representatives to be more active in reporting on those problems.
In particular, among challenges faced by adolescents, young spokespersons singled out problems related to schools and apathy prevailing among children in secondary and high school, quality of education and textbooks, quality of higher education and teaching methodologies at universities, lack of vocational training institutions and difficulties that adolescents with special needs experience in accessing information and obtaining education.
“Apathy prevailing among high school students, high unemployment rates among youth and lack of prospects for self-realization and self-sustainability force many boys and girls of our age to look for opportunities outside Armenia,” young spokespersons said.
Through creative presentations and short videos, boys and girls raised their voices for equality of all children, healthy lifestyle and inadmissibility of selling tobacco and alcohol to children below 18, environment protection and creation of conditions to promote young talents.
Adolescents also challenged assumptions held by representatives of older generation that the generation they represent does not attend libraries and read much of classic and modern literature.
“I did a small research, visiting a number of libraries in Yerevan, and found out that the number of boys and girls registered in libraries has, in fact, grown. I understand that my research is not representative and the situation in rural areas is a lot different, but I think that the assumption that we don’t read at all is wrong,” 16-year old Julia said.
The press conference was the first in a series of activities that UNICEF implements jointly with the “Future is Yours” non-governmental organization to promote voices of adolescents and youth and encourage their active participation in decision-making processes.
Following this event, adolescents who participated in this initiative will organize events and presentations in their schools, universities and communities and devise small projects where they can be agents of social change.
Key Facts on adolescents in Armenia
In 2009, there were an estimated 1.2 billion adolescents in the world, forming around 18 per cent of the global population. An adolescent is defined as an individual aged 10-19 by the UN.
The vast majority of the world’s adolescents – 88 per cent – live in developing countries.
According to the Statistical Book of Armenia, in 2010 there were an estimated 500,000 adolescents in Armenia, which represent 15 per cent of the total population of Armenia. The majority of adolescents in Armenia – 58.7% live in urban areas.
According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues estimates that there are 5,030 adolescents with special needs in Armenia.
According to UNICEF study “School Wastage Study Focusing on Student Absenteeism in Armenia”, students in higher grades are more likely to be absent from school or drop out of school than students in lower grades.
Another study conducted by UNICEF on child labour, demonstrated that around 5 per cent of children aged 7-18 were involved in some kind of work in Armenia and one third of those children were below 14 years – the minimum age for admission to employment according to the Armenian Labour Code.
As of 31 January 2011, there were 11 cases of HIV among persons aged 15-19 years.