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MENA Generation 2030 - Investing in children and youth today to secure a prosperous region tomorrow

MENA Generation 2030 - Investing in children and youth today to secure a prosperous region tomorrow

Unless governments prioritize peace and stability and invest boldly in what matters most for children and the untapped potential of youth, the MENA region will fail to reach the Sustainable Development Goals

Without improved education and meaningful work opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa, the region faces a critical risk of an unprecedented increase of 5 million out-of-school children, and over a 10 per cent rise in youth unemployment by 2030, according to a UNICEF report: MENA Generation 2030.

Batool, a 20-year-old from Jordan says: “I started my last year of high school with great enthusiasm and even greater dreams. However, all I experienced was failure. I isolated myself and stopped studying until I started volunteering. That changed my life. I became a new person, optimistic and always looking for new opportunities.”

Batool is one of millions of children and young people in the region who struggle to learn and prosper. MENA Generation 2030 is the first report to make a direct link between investment in children, economic growth and social development. It is a result of the consultations with the World Bank, ILO, IMF and ESCWA.

According to the report:

  • Children and young people currently account for nearly half of the region’s population;

  • The region has the highest youth unemployment rates in the world; with a regional average of up to 40 per cent among young women;

  • MENA is home to more than half of the world’s refugees, with more than one third of youth living in fragile and conflict affected countries;

  • Young people feel a deterioration in the quality of life in the last decade and only half of them have confidence in their own governments;

  • Nearly 15 million children are out of school due to a combination of poverty, discrimination, poor quality learning, violence in schools and armed conflict;

  • Among children who are in school, only half meet the benchmark measuring skills for reading, mathematics and science.

“We are at a serious risk of not meeting the Sustainable Development Goals in the MENA region with devastating consequences on children and young people,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The only way out is through the implementation and budgeting of policies for children, ending violence and armed conflict, having a politically and socially stable environment, and promoting gender equality.”

The report outlines common areas for governments, the private sector and young people themselves:

  • Increase financing for early childhood development including adequate health, nutrition and responsive stimulation to build the foundation of children’s physical, emotional and cognitive development;

  • Improve basic education and simultaneously nurture the skills needed to match the rapidly changing economy including training for young people.

  • Provide more support for young people transitioning from education to employment;

  • Improve education quality to equip children with skills critical for their future including creativity, critical thinking, communication and empathy;

  • Provide children and young people with spaces to raise their concerns, share their ideas and engage with them in the decision-making process, to make the most out of their ingenuity.


Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
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