The Importance Of Youth Development Essay


The stage from youth to adult transition is not only a precarious period for an individual but also to the individuals’ family, the overall society and the economy of a country. The classification “youth” in modest terminology can be described as the evolution cycle from juvenile and school education into adulthood and career life. The half of world’s inhabitants is represented by young people around three billion below age 30. They are the possible insightful leaders of tomorrow. The youth need to be supported and we must play a vital role in their development, we need to make a substantial investment in their future for the benefit of everyone. We need to see young people as active and equal partners in forming a united front to tackle our world’s most demanding developmental challenges. (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013).

Attitudes towards youth development locally and globally African countries accentuate investment in the youth which can pay dividends in the future (Population Reference Bureau, 2017). The African Union Agenda 2063 – Aspiration 6, adopted a stance where they state that the youth has been highlighted as a priority which needs attention, the idea is to establish opportunities for self-realization of the youth, they believe it can be accomplished by facilitating access to healthcare, higher education and employment (African Union Commission, 2015). This vision is echoed by South Africa through the National Policy initiatives like the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030 in conjunction with the National Youth Policy (NYP) 2015–2020, this plan includes gives prominence to the safeguarding of young people in terms of sexually transmitted diseases and unforeseen adolescent female pregnancies.

In general, the outlook for many young adults globally is looking dire. The ratio, three out of four does not get a good start in life. Countries are not serious about addressing the needs of young people in developing countries. Young people need to be prepared for technological, economic, political and environmental advancement. The time to act is now, while the window of opportunity is open to convert the youth as an asset into a productive participant in the economy (The Guardian, 2017). The reality of the problem concerning youths in general. According to (StatsSA, n.d), adolescents make up 18,5% of the greater population of South Africa in 2016. These youths are destined to play various roles in their adult lives and need to be nurtured to produce adults with fully developed potential to play a meaningful/productive role in society. It appears that youth development, especially in South Africa is not successful enough, seen at the backdrop of the social ills presently displayed by youth. According to the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit, the Western Cape youths, proportionally the highest number of binge drinkers in secondary schools – 34% against 23% for the countries’ average (City of Cape Town Youth Development Policy, 2013).

In 2012, roughly 1,3 m deaths transpired globally amongst youths (10 year –19year olds). The mortality rate dropped 126 fatalities per 100 000 in the year 2000 to 111 per 100 000 in 2012. Regardless of this decrease in the mortality rate, the projected amount of worldwide AIDS-related fatalities amongst youths (10–19) increased threefold from 21 000 in the year 2000 to 60 000 in 2014 (UNAIDS, 2014). The adolescent outlook in South Africa, just as the other African countries, are further exacerbated by plagues and diseases and the mortality rate bare witness. Statistical analysis about the South Africa adolescent situation recommends that a need exist to address the risky behaviour. However, if we go according to the statistic it remains unaddressed (StatsSA, n.d).Recreation as a form of youth development.

In the recent past, youth development was defined as the formulation of procedures to create organizations and societies that play a supportive role in young people to advance towards adulthood by lending support and provide activities essential to prevent youth-related problems (Eccles and Gootman, 2002, Witt, 2002). The prominence of recreation as a positive developmental factor for young people is not a new model. Recreation has been associated with efforts aimed at social reform and the well-being of the community (Baker, 1997). The problems surrounding adolescents and their recreation were important throughout the 20th century, but it was not until the 1980s that young people were characterized as at risk. Practitioners and researchers focused mainly on eliminating or diminishing negative behaviors (Eccles and Gootman, 2002, Witt, 2002). Resources and youth programs were directed towards the stereotyped adolescents at risk and applied to broader demographic data, such as the underprivileged, urban, rural or citywide youths, single-parent families and lower income levels. This at-risk focus was the precursor to moving from a negative-based perspective of youth development toward a more positive and optimistic outlook. As an extension of research on resiliency, which focused on the youth’s ability to thrive despite internal and external stresses (Regional Research Institute for Human Services, 2005), PYD emerged in the 1990s. This decade was characterized by a resurgence of interest by policymakers in youth-related issues due to increases in social problems such as gang membership (Crompton, 2010). The focus then shifted to adolescent and youth development beyond delinquency prevention.

Youth is described as a stage where a young person moves from childhood to adulthood, a stage of life that is traced by a number of critical transition-physiological, psychological, social and economic (Common Wealth, 2013). Building of human capital that allows young people to avoid poverty, leading better and fulfilling lives are significant issues in youth development and empowerment. An investment of a nation in long-term growth is an important establishment of human capital developed in the youth. Therefore, making sure that youth are well prepared got their future extensively outstanding in the course of social policy, poverty removal and growth (Becker, 2010).

Youth Leadership Development

Youth development is a procedure that allows young people to go through the confrontations of teenage-hood and adulthood so they can achieve their full potential. It is encouraged to through activities and experiences that help youth to develop social, ethical, emotional, physical and cognitive competencies. It is part of its developmental processes and supports in the young person are to helping with development (Pfeiffer, 2013). (a) The capability of examining their own strengths and weaknesses, setting personal and vocational goals, having high self-esteem, confidence, motivation and abilities to carry them out including the ability to establish support networks in order to fully participate in community life and effect positive social change and (b) The ability to steer and control others in a course of action, influence the opinions and behaviours of others and serve as a role model (Pfeiffer, 2013). (c) Healthy youth development has conditions that are promoted and supported through programs and activities in schools and communities.

The practitioners and researchers for youth development highlight the effectiveness and interventions to acknowledge the strengths of the youth to seek and promote positive developments rather than labelling risks in isolation. Those youth members who are usefully involved in learning and are connected to positive adults and peers are less likely to engage in risky and self-defeating behaviours (Pfeiffer, 2013). Families, school and the different communities share a responsibility in providing the conditions for a positive youth development; all those conditions reside in those places that consist of youth. It is uncommon for all these positive influencers to be present at the same time. Unfortunately, too many of the youth grow up in circumstances that provide limited support for healthy development (Pfeiffer, 2013). Well-designed and well-run youth development programmes promote youth leadership by involving youth in need assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation. A growing number of organisations include youth in their board of directors (Pfeiffer, 2013). Effective programmes engage all participating youth in constructive action through activities such as service learning, arts and athletics. It emphasises the common values of such friendships, citizenships and learning (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013).

Research on factors promoting resilience in youth at risk has shown that the consistent presence of a single caring adult can have a significant positive impact on a young person’s growth and development (Garmezy, 1993). Well- designed programmes promote positive relationships with both peers and adults (National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, 2004).

The importance of youth development

Asset Building/Life Skills

Existence capabilities refer to starting point that allows the youth to be successful in school, in work environments, in private relationships, families and as part of a bigger community. The youth may involve real capacities like budgeting and being computer literate but they could involve skills that are not taught in educational institutions like resolving issues, resolution conflicts, communicating, self-esteem, building confidence, negotiations, setting goals and managing stresses and stressors. With other asset-building approaches to youth development, life skills build an essential foundation for success in adulthood. It is unfavourable that existence capability elements are merged into different youth programming. E.g., workplace training programmes bring youth different skills for their selected career paths while they need to have abilities to manage stress, solve problems, thinking critically to be characterised differently and still have a job in the long term. In cases of health programmes, the youth may receive information and training on available contraceptive methods although if they can’t negotiate contraceptive use with their partners then the positive health effects will be limited. Conclusively, the benefits of a merged capabilities approach are deep and reaching far (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013).

Youth Participation

Youth participation refers to the offering the youth the sketches and performances of the strategies and programmes that influence them such as the people in their communities and surroundings. It is a crucial feature of most youth developments that are successful and may be evident on a variety of levels. The most successful programmes take youth from being compliant trustees to whole contributing partners of the development stages. Looking at the age, beliefs and what they are capable of as the youth need to be managed carefully. The youth can get training to play roles such as community leaders that are activists and utility suppliers (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013). To make sure youth participation goes beyond tokenism, youth should be involved in the design, on-going monitoring and evaluation of programmes. Strongest advocates of the youth are their own beings, their input in development stages can be processed through youth friendly platforms and working with decision making people. It is equivalently important to reach for support from the bigger community like their parents, educators, leaders of the community and those that make policies. In surroundings where youth is politicised e.g. having conflicts where they stay, taking part in programming can be challenging but it is also gain for the being sustainable and programme impact (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013).

Social & Contextual Factors

Youth and ConflictIn response to the requirements and desires of the youth in affected neighbourhoods by presenting numerous conflict challenges conflict and individual opportunities. Participating youth in constructive development opportunities is a key step in the stabilisation of communities affected with conflict. Thus, peace and growth in a long term are based on getting the youth ready, some are involved in conflict while others affected by it for roles in work that are positive and in families as well as community life.

Successful programmes of youth that is affected with conflict needs assignments that are targeted to understand violence among the youth so they can identify their developmental strengths and gaps in basic education and developmental skills and ensure more criticised units of youth. Main work with youth affected with conflict involves civic engagement, good living development, developing coping and self-controlling behaviours, in many conflict environments youth have been taught to deal with stresses through violence. When provided with resources and role models to discover their desire for change in good directions, they can become agents and anchors of peace and stability (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013).

Youth and Disability

Disabled youth are grouped with the poor and critised people in the world. All issues that influence them involve gain in education, work, health services and social services that affect them in a far more complex way. Attitudes and hate joined to disability makes it impossible for them to be schooling, be able to work or take part in local activities. They are seen as asexual and are not involved in sexual and reproductive health info and education. This puts them in risk for being abused sexually and being exploited. It denies them their right to safe and healthy sexual reproductive lives. In various communities both urban and rural, the environment is highly challenging with barriers of physical and communication that make it hard for them to participate in social life. These consolidated challenges impact youth programmes and undervalues the need to include of youth with disabilities by providing them with a voice to speak for their equal rights and opportunities to see their potential (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013).

Youth and Exclusion

The population of the youth is multiples in a given environment, they can involve the best or the poor. Those who stay in the urban or from rural areas as a result of population are typically a wide variety of skills and needs. Prohibited youth are those who are at the borderline of society making them more unprotected and thus it is more important to reach with programming. It depends on the surroundings; the excluded youth may include those with living with HIV/AIDS, teenagers that are girls, those that are heads of households, with disabilities and those from small backgrounds including ethnicity as well as religious backgrounds. Programme strategies to include youth that is excluded should state a clear understanding of the place and causes of their criticism system or family and community perspectives that focus on the assets, they offer useful ways for programme interventions to support excluded youth (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013.

Youth and Gender

Across all places of youth development, gender needs to be taken into consideration, it is restriction for youth appear early as social roles and expectations start to change with the beginning of puberty stages. Gender stereotypes of masculinity and femininity marriage and childbearing puts young women at high risk for maternal temporarily and morbidity, they also cut opportunities to complete primary and secondary education leading to minimised economic opportunity and sustaining the cycle of poverty.

Programmes and approaches affect girls and young women differently than boys and young men, knowing the difference helps to ensure more including and ultimately more effective approaches to youth development. Moreover, young people are responsibilities in their households and communities, which lead to societal shifts. Programmes activities should be tactful to gender standards so that young people are comfortable in the programming environment so that it provides a rally for youth to be opposite gender standards such as selecting gender-based work occupations. Eventually programmes operating in conflict environments must be sensitive to the fact that gender-based violence has a widespread in unstable situations (Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), 2013).


Until the challenges young people face are treated as urgent, it is more likely that among their nearly 2 billion numbers they will end up as a lost generation. A critical factor is youth development is the extent to which young people are able to participate in the political and civic life of their countries, but the role models are in short supply; according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union of the 45 000 national level legislators in the world, only 1.9% are below the age of 30. It is hardly surprising that young people are fast losing faith in apathetic political systems at a time when social media is giving them tools to launch dissatisfaction.

How to cite this essay: