Signs of minor improvement in youth development, but SA still ranks poorly in global survey

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Patricia Scotland attends the Commonwealth International Women's Day event at Marlborough House in London.
Patricia Scotland attends the Commonwealth International Women's Day event at Marlborough House in London.
David M Benett, Getty Images, Eco-Age Limited
  • The Global Youth Development Index is compiled by the Commonwealth Secretariat Youth Division.
  • Surveyed countries are given a Youth Development Index score between 0 and 1, where 1 represents the highest achievement for youth development. SA ranked 131st out of 181 countries.
  • It is a composite index of 27 indicators.

South Africa has dropped in rankings but has improved in score on the Global Youth Development Index, which ranks countries according to how developed their youth are.

In the 2020 index, released this week, SA ranked 131st out of 181 countries - a drop from 126th place in the last index, which was released in 2016.  

Surveyed countries are given a Youth Development Index (YDI) score between 0 and 1, where 1 represents the highest achievement for youth development. The index is a composite index of 27 indicators.

Despite the drop in rankings, SA's YDI score was 0.608, which improved from 0.560 in 2016.

READ | Ramaphosa says he'll tackle youth unemployment on Youth Day

The index is compiled by the Commonwealth Secretariat Youth Division and tracks progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) associated with youth development. It looks at levels of education, health and well-being, employment and opportunity, civic participation and political participation.

A youth is defined as someone between the ages of 15 and 29. 

Singapore had the highest level of youth development at 0.875, followed by Slovenia, Norway, Malta and Denmark. 

At the bottom of the index rankings was Chad, followed by the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Niger.

The index found that the average youth development score improved by 3.1% between 2010 and 2018. At least 86% of the countries recorded improvements in the eight-year period. 

The report read:

The top five risers from 2010 to 2018 were Afghanistan, India, Russia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Yemen and Jordan were the largest fallers. On average, the top five risers improved their score by 15.74 percent while the five largest fallers saw an average deterioration of 10.28 percent.

Data for the index was collected before the Covid-19 pandemic and does not take into account the effects the pandemic had on societies. 

"The Commonwealth's global Youth Development Index is one of the tools that has significantly enhanced our capacity to interrogate and assess that progress and which we hope will be of use not just to the Commonwealth, but to the whole world. Now in its third iteration, this index has been strengthened to measure new dimensions of progress – on equality and inclusion and on peace and security – while continuing to analyse changes in the foundational elements of the index: education, health and well-being, employment and opportunity, and political and civic participation," said Patricia Scotland, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth.


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