- More than 50 per cent of Africa’s youth are illiterate.
- The youth unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa has been around 12 per cent for the last decade.
- In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate dropped from 25.3 per cent in 1997 to 23.8 per cent in 2007.
- Combined enrolment in primary education in Central, Western, Eastern and Southern Africa increased from 53.7 per cent in 1991 to 70.75 per cent in 2006.
- In North Africa, primary education enrolment increased from 82.0 per cent in 1991 to 95.0 per cent in 2006.
- Displaced young people with the least transferable skills and education run the highest risk of poverty.
It is estimated that about 133 million African youth are illiterate — more than 50 per cent of the youth population. Thousands are under-employed and working in the informal sector, often in hazardous conditions. Low levels of education, limited skill sets and restricted opportunities exclude young people from gaining productive work.
Without opportunities for decent work, disaffected youth are more easily enticed to participate in disruptive behaviours, such as drug use, civil unrest and violence, including armed conflicts and other forms of criminal activities.
Poverty, restrictive patriarchal structures and conflict have forced thousands of young people to migrate from rural to urban areas and to developed countries. It is crucial to integrate the region’s youth into the labour market so as to mitigate the huge social and economic ramifications of their exclusion.
"Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world." Former South African President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the Mindset Network, 16 July 2003
A young man from the Ndebele tribe in South Africa on his initiation day.
Plapa Koukpamou from Togo revealed that his middle and high school years were spent in classrooms with no less than 80 students. "As I entered Lome University, there were more than five hundred students in each of my classes, with one professor." He continued "Africa does not need monetary aid, we need our governments to implement educational policies that coincide with our countries' realities. From outside, we need assistance in the form of human resources, like expertise."
The future of any society can only be guaranteed by its youth. Various African Governments have undertaken initiatives to address both youth education and employment, like formulating youth policies and mainstreaming youth issues into National Development Plans and poverty reduction efforts.