In social media circles, who qualifies to be tagged a youth often ignites some controversy. Is a person who has crossed the age of 40 still a youth?
Not to worry, a publication by Mo Ibrahim Foundation, African Youth: Fulfilling The Potentials, has thrown some light on this issue.
According to the publication, a young person by UN definition is a person aged between 15 and 24. The African Union extends the age latitude by expanding the youth bracket to persons as old as 35 years. So, it means in Nigeria, former Minister of Youth affairs, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, is a grandee, as he is over 40.
According to the Mo Ibrahim book, Youths are defined in the following manner:
● are at their prime physically subject to adequate nutrition and care
● are in the process of developing their identity
● are in a learning process
● question ideas and perceptions of (adult) society ● are flexible, open-minded and quick to adjust
● are sexually active
● most often still live with their parents, but are about to establish a family and find a place to live
● compete with adults for learning opportunities and jobs
● are often dependent on their parents or other adults
● do in many cases decide for themselves, however not in all
(e.g. economic, marriage)
● are poorer than adults
● often contribute to the income of the family
● may have the right to vote
● can be charged for a crime but are not always considered financially responsible
Adults In contrast
● are fully developed physically – or beginning to deteriorate
● have developed their identity
● are not in a formal learning process
● often become more conservative as they grow older
● are less flexible and quick to adjust
● are in control of finances
● decide for themselves
● are responsible for income of the family
● have the right to vote
● can be charged for a crime
The fact book is not just about offering this definition, it also offers some sobering facts about the future of youths, predicting an exponential growth of youthful population in Africa.
“Africa is the only continent with a significantly growing youth population. In less than three generations, 41% of the world’s youth will be African. By 2035, Africa’s labour force will be larger than China’s,” it says.
Its posers as to whether the continent is ready for the phenomenal growth put Nigeria in the dock: At the moment nearly 9 million primary school-age children are out of school in Nigeria. The implication of this is clear: many of the children who will be graduating into the youth league, will not have the tool they badly need in the future: education.
This is indeed the theme of the Ibrahim Forum, holding in Dakar 11 November 2012: How to fulfill the potentials of African youths.