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Kenya ranks poorly on state of youth affairs

By James Wanzala | Aug 12th 2021 | 3 min read
An aerial view of Nairobi City from Ngara.[Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Kenya has been ranked 139th on the 2020 Global Youth Development Index, which measures the status of young people in 181 countries around the world.

According to the Commonwealth Secretariat's triennial rankings of youth development, 156 countries recorded slight improvements in their scores.

The ranking comes as the world celebrates International Youth Day 2021 today with the theme, 'Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health'.

Singapore ranked top for the first time, followed by Slovenia, Norway, Malta and Denmark.

Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Niger came last, respectively.

The index further shows that the conditions of young people have improved around the world by 3.1 per cent between 2010 and 2018, but progress remains slow.

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.

The index ranked 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 looked 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.

Approximately 75 per cent of Kenya's population are youth with the median age estimated at 19 years.

Kenya scored 0.577 points same as Gambia and tied at position 139. Above it are fellow African countries like Senegal (133), South Africa (131), Djibouti (128), Egypt (123), Comoros (121), Namibia (119), Gabon (114) and Libya (110).

Kenya beat Togo (141), Rwanda (142) and its neighbours Tanzania (148) and Uganda (157).

Afghanistan, India, Russia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso were the top five improvers, advancing their score, on average, by 15.74 per cent. On the other hand, Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Jordan and Lebanon showed the greatest decline in youth development between 2010 and 2018.

Overall, the index shows advances in youth’s participation in peace processes and their education, employment, inclusion and healthcare since 2010.

Health made the largest gains of 4.39 per cent driven by a 1.6 per cent decline in global youth mortality rates and a 2 per cent drop in each HIV, self-harm, alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Sub-Saharan Africa made the greatest strides in improving the health of young people.

Levels of underemployed youth and those not in school, training or work remained constant.

Advances in equality and inclusion are led by improved gender parity in literacy as well as fewer child marriage cases and pregnancies in girls under 20. Yet no progress occurred in women’s safety.

The global education score increased by three per cent, with South Asia making the largest improvement of 16 per cent followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 10 per cent.

Peace and security improved by 3.41 per cent, resulting from fewer young people dying from violence.

Somalia recorded the largest gains in the peace and security of young people, followed by Colombia, Sri Lanka, Eritrea and Russia.

Youth participation in politics is the only domain to record a decline in most parts of the world, reporting a deterioration in 102 countries.

However, sub-Saharan Africa recorded a five per cent improvement in the average regional score.

Globally, Sweden leads on education, Luxembourg on equality and inclusion and Singapore on employment, health, and peace.

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