21. Although progress towards universal basic education, beginning with literacy, has been impressive in recent times, the number of illiterate people will continue to grow and many developing countries are likely to fall short of universal primary education by the year 2000. Three main concerns regarding current systems of education may be expressed. The first is the inability of many parents in developing countries to send their children to schools because of local economic and social conditions. The second concerns the paucity of educational opportunities for girls and young women, migrants, refugees, displaced persons, street children, indigenous youth minorities, young people in rural areas and young people with disabilities. The third concerns the quality of education, its relevance to employment and its usefulness in assisting young people in the transition to full adulthood, active citizenship and productive and gainful employment.
22. To encourage the development of educational and training systems more in line with the current and future needs of young people and their societies, it would be helpful to share experience and to investigate alternative arrangements, such as informal arrangements for the provision of basic literacy, job skills training and lifelong education.
23. Opportunities for young people to pursue advanced or university education, engage in research or be trained for self-employment should be expanded in developing countries. Given the economic problems faced by such countries and the inadequacy of international assistance in this area, it is difficult to provide appropriate training for all young people, even though they are a country’s chief economic asset.
24. Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are called upon to assist young people from developing countries to obtain education and training at all levels in developed as well as in developing countries, as well as to participate in mutual academic exchanges among developing countries.
Proposals for action
1. Improving the level of basic education, skill training and literacy among youth
25. Priority should be given to achieving the goal of ensuring basic education for all (beginning with literacy), mobilizing for that purpose all channels, agents and forms of education and training, in line with the concept of lifelong education. Special emphasis should also be given to the reform of education content and curricula, especially curricula that reinforce traditional female roles which deny women opportunities for full and equal partnership in society, at all levels, focusing on scientific literacy, moral values and learning of skills, adapted to the changing environment and to life in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies. The importance of the development of information skills, that is skills for researching, accessing and using information, and informatics should be emphasized along with the importance of distance education. Non-governmental youth organizations and educational organizations should develop youth-to-youth programmes for basic education, skills training and literacy. Consideration should be given to developing programmes enabling retired and elderly people to teach literacy to young people. Particular attention should be given to specific groups of youth in distressed circumstances, including indigenous, migrant and refugee youth, displaced persons, street children and poor youth in urban and rural areas, as well as to special problems, including literacy problems, for blind youth and youth with other disabilities.
2. Cultural heritage and contemporary patterns of society
26. Governments should establish or strengthen programmes to educate young people in the cultural heritage of their own and other societies and the world. Governments should institute, in cooperation with non-governmental youth organizations, travel and exchange programmes and youth camps to help youth understand cultural diversity at both the national and international levels, develop intercultural learning skills and participate in the preservation of the cultural heritage of their own and other societies and the world around them. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in cooperation with interested Governments and non-governmental organizations, is requested to expand international programmes, such as youth camps, by which young people, particularly those from developing countries, with different cultures, may help restore major international cultural sites and engage in other cultural activities.
3. Promoting mutual respect and understanding and the ideals of peace, solidarity and tolerance among youth
27. Programmes aimed at learning peacemaking and conflict resolution should be encouraged and designed by Governments and educational institutions for introduction to schools at all levels. Children and youth should be informed of cultural differences in their own societies and given opportunities to learn about different cultures as well as tolerance and mutual respect for cultural and religious diversity. Governments and educational institutions should formulate and implement educational programmes which promote and strengthen respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms and enhance the values of peace, solidarity, tolerance, responsibility and respect for the diversity and rights of others.
4. Vocational and professional training
28. Governments and educational institutions, in cooperation with regional and international organizations, could establish or enhance vocational and technical training relevant to current and prospective employment conditions. Youth must be given the opportunity to access vocational and professional training and apprenticeship programmes that help them acquire entry-level jobs with growth opportunities and the ability to adjust to changes in labour demand.
5. Promoting human rights education
29. Governments should ensure that the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, which began in 1995, is adequately observed in schools and educational institutions. In order to make youth aware of their civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well their societal responsibilities, and in order to develop harmonious inter-community relations, mutual tolerance and respect, equality between women and men, and tolerance for diversity, Governments should develop human rights education strategies targeted at youth, taking particular account of the human rights of women.
6. Training for enterprise programmes
30. Governments, in cooperation with regional and international organizations, should formulate model training programmes for youth in individual and cooperative enterprises. They are encouraged to establish self-contained enterprise centres where young people may plan and test their enterprise venture concepts.
7. Infrastructure for training youth workers and youth leaders
31. Governments should assess the adequacy of facilities and programmes to train youth workers and youth leaders, including the adequacy of curricula and staff resources. On the basis of such assessments, Governments should plan and implement relevant training programmes. Non-governmental youth organizations should be encouraged and assisted in formulating and disseminating model training courses for use by member organizations.
32. Interested organizations should investigate possibilities of strengthening international youth worker and youth leadership training, with priority given to accepting participants from developing countries. In cooperation with concerned organizations that provide training opportunities for youth, including internships and volunteer programmes, establishment of an inventory of such programmes could also be explored.