The importance of young people’s contribution to society around the world is annually recognised on the 12 August as International Youth Day. It is an opportunity to celebrate the role of young people across the globe in shaping an international society, and offers an opportunity to reflect upon the various challenges they face as they do so.
This year, the theme of International Youth Day is ‘Youth Civic Engagement’, which refers to the need for young people to take an active part in the development of decisions which affect them. As the globe shrinks, as borders become increasingly irrelevant and as local becomes inextricably linked with global, it is essential that young people are provided with the opportunities, motivation, and skills to engage with the worldwide community.
The world today is seeing the largest youth population in history. There are more than 1.2 billion young people (between the ages of 15 and 24) across the globe. Youth unemployment is skyrocketing with 74 million young people out of work and young people face some tough challenges ahead. But young people are also more connected than any previous generation and they are using the power of technology and globalization to create innovate solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. It is in the hands of today’s young people to find solutions to today’s challenges, and carry them into tomorrow’s future. It is essential that education systems support young people to be prepared for that future.
Researchers are clear that they way young people think has evolved more in the past 15 years, than in the previous 500. We can’t know for certain what the youth of today will need in the future but what educationists, politicians and business leaders all agree on is that young people will need to be creative and critical thinkers - able to deal with the amount of information available to them and to make productive use of it. They must be able to communicate across boundaries of nationality, faith or ethnicity and understand that working collaboratively to solve global challenges is the only way forward. Education systems must support innovation, problem solving and lateral thinking so that young people can thrive in a rapidly changing world.
At APIE, we are exploring all the potential ingredients that make a good education in the 21st century. Quality education will give young people the skills to invent their own futures, and come up with their own solutions to the challenges of tomorrow. Sub-Saharan Africa has the biggest youth population in the world, which is why we are committed to supporting the development of quality education in Rwanda. Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders: let’s help them on their way to becoming successful global citizens.