Adolescent Development and Participation
Adolescents (aged 10-19) comprise nearly one quarter of the Egyptian population, and Egypt is experiencing an unprecedented ‘youth bulge’. Although adolescents have historically been neglected as an age group requiring particular attention, interest in the rights and needs of adolescents has grown since the 25th of January revo-lution, which dramatically demonstrated the important role young people play as catalysts for change. There is now national recognition of the importance of investing in the needs and aspirations of adolescents and creating the space for them to engage in national development.
The main challenges affecting adolescents include learning, employment, health, family and citizenship, of which employment and citizenship are of particular concern. The age group 15-29 represents the majority of Egypt’s unemployed, a situation which is partly a result of the mismatch between the educational system and the labour market demands. As for social and civic engagement, adolescents still experience limited opportunities to participate and express their opinions, while older youth turned to social media as their space for active engagement.
Sustained efforts and investments in young people will provide them with better access to information, skills, and resources. Adolescents will not only be better prepared to cease and benefit from opportunities, but will also improve their self-esteem, confidence, lives and contribution to their communities.
UNICEF aims to enhance adolescents’ knowledge and skills for healthy and productive lifestyles and active citizenship, through three main strategic interventions:
1. Adolescent development: investing and targeting adolescents and youth
In partnership with civil society and private sector, the programme on employability, entrepreneurial and life skills addresses young people’s need for invaluable information and skills to enable them to become socially and economically empowered, with a particular focus on vulnerable young people. The programme involves a skills development component covering life skills such as objective setting, communication and critical thinking skills; employability skills such as CV writing and interview skills; as well as entrepreneurial skills, which to date has reached 26,300 young people. This is complemented by a career counselling service that has reached 12,600 young people across ten governorates. Furthermore, UNICEF supports sport for development interventions that use sport and physical activities to address the inclusion and life skills of marginalised girls and street children.
2. Participation: engaging adolescents and youth
In partnership with the National Council for Youth, the Civic Education Programme aims at equipping young people with knowledge, skills, and necessary attitudes for active citizenship. To date, about 16,500 adolescents and youth nationally have benefited from the Civic Education Programme. In addition, special efforts are directed to build the capacity of youth NGOs as well as school student unions, as mechanisms for adolescents and youth participation and avenues for civic engagement.
3. Knowledge: generating data and advocating for evidence-based policies for young people
Support policy advocacy on young people’s issues through stimulating new research and analysis of data for policy dialogue. The Survey of Young People in Egypt (2010) was a landmark study, supported by UNICEF, which provides updated and comprehensive information on adolescent wellbeing as well as much needed evidence for policy advocacy and programming for adolescents.
Programme Expected Results
• Young people equipped with knowledge, skills and attitudes for active citizenship through a civic education programme at national level.
• Activation of school student unions as a critical channel for increased participation of adolescents within their schools and communities.
• Capacity of Youth NGOs strengthened as effective avenues of young people's civic engagement.
• Young people are equipped with key life skills, employability and entrepreneurial skills to be better prepared for the job market, with a focus on marginalised young people.
• Young people are engaged in policy dialogue around issues of their concern.
• Marginalised adolescent girls are able to engage in sport for development and participate in community and public life.
• Improved data and evidence on adolescent and youth issues is available for policy and programming.