Second decade

All adolescents unlocks their potential and participate fully in all aspects of life and are empowered for a successful transition from school to work

Second Decade
UNICEF Tajikistan

The challenge

With an estimated population of nine million in 2018, Tajikistan has a young multi-ethnic population. About 40% of the population are adolescents and youth, and 68% are under the age of 30. Seventy per cent live in rural areas. Young people and adolescents, especially adolescent girls, have limited opportunities to gain education, knowledge, and skills that could lead to their social and economic advancement and bring them financial and personal security.

Poor education – along with lack of opportunities for meaningful employment in the country once young people leave school – drive high rates of mostly outbound migration among young people (females make up about 18% of migrants). These adolescents and young people are dissatisfied with the economic situation, quality of education and lack of opportunities.  

Every third adolescent (aged 10-19 years) reports being depressed: this equates to 584,000 depressed adolescent girls and boys in a country where only 1% of the national health budget is allocated to mental health.

In total, 504,799 adolescents and young people (aged 15-24) were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in 2016, corresponding to a NEET rate of 30% among young people. Notably, the NEET rate among females is nine times higher than males. In total, the labour potential of one in five young people is underutilized.

 The highest school drop-out rates are found among adolescent girls, while 86% of all NEET are girls. 

Opportunities for civic engagement are extremely limited in Tajikistan. More than 80% of adolescents in the country do not know their rights.

Adolescents also have limited access to health services, and the health services that are available to adolescents are mostly not adapted to their needs. In particular, mental health and psychosocial services are limited and underdeveloped in the country. The need for mental health and psychological services in Tajikistan was highlighted by a study on suicide commissioned by UNICEF in 2012. The suicide rate in Sughd region (2009-2010) was estimated at 11.2 cases per 100,000 young people aged 12-24 (11.7 for females and 10.6 for males), meaning, unusually in the global context, that the female suicide rate was significantly higher than that of males.  

The solution

UNICEF Tajikistan has multiple entry points for engagement on youth and adolescent issues. These include advocacy and support for a strengthened system to improve adolescent health and well-being by establishing quality adolescent-friendly services; building competencies and skills among adolescents that facilitate their transition to adulthood and employment through sustainable and scalable in-the-system models; and providing opportunities for adolescent and youth civic engagement, participation in decision making and social cohesion in the country.

UNICEF is building the capacity of psychologists, and counsellors, including peer-to-peer support, in the schools and health systems, to enable provision of mental health services to adolescents. Meanwhile, building on UNICEF-supported best practice in adolescent-friendly health services, the Ministries of Education and Health are now jointly developing national mental health programming for adolescent girls and boys.

UNICEF aims to see every adolescent girl and boy, including the most marginalized, empowered for a successful transition from school to a productive, active life. 

With partners from both the Government and the development community, UNICEF is creating referral pathways within both the formal education system (schools and first-level vocational training institutions) and non-formal education settings. Each proposed pathway provides specific learning, skills building and employability opportunities, covering different cohorts of adolescents and young people, though focusing on the most marginalized.

Youth engagement is an important instrument for building civic participation and overcoming social exclusion and power inequity.

UNICEF in Tajikistan is developing sustainable youth consultative mechanisms based on innovative approaches, platforms, and tools to amplify the voices of adolescents and youth and connect their needs to policy-making processes. It is also developing peacebuilding competencies focused on participation and social cohesion among adolescents and young people through a series of training events, including modular training programmes in non-formal education settings such as Youth Centres. 

Empowered with competencies, young people will be engaged in youth consultative mechanisms for decision making at local authority level: a model of child- and youth-friendly local governance that has been piloted in two districts. Building on this experience UNICEF will establish platforms for consultations with youth within a contextualized model of a child- and youth-friendly local governance in eight districts of the country, with potential expansion at the national level.