Pakistan ranks second lowest in region on Youth Development Index

LAHORE: Pakistan with a score of (0.517) has been ranked lowest among all the regional and neighboring countries when it comes to the latest Youth Development Index. It is only Afghanistan with score of 0.421, which is above Pakistan in the list.

More worryingly, among the 10 lowest-ranked countries in the Commonwealth, Pakistan is the only poorly performed nation that is not part of Sub-Saharan Africa. On the overall basis, out of 181 countries, Pakistan ranked 162nd on the 2020 Global Youth Development Index that measures the status of young people in 181 countries around the world.

The index ranks countries between 0.00 (lowest) and 1.00 (highest) according to the developments in youth education, employment, health, equality and inclusion, peace and security, and political and civic participation. It looks at 27 indicators including literacy and voting to showcase the state of the world’s 1.8 billion people between the age of 15 and 29.

As per some snapshots of the latest index, Pakistan’s score deteriorated by 64.29 percent, from a relatively low score of 0.168 in 2010.

More concerning was that R&D spending actually contracted over the period in five economies – Pakistan, India (0.626), Mozambique, Sri Lanka (0.747), and Uganda. To solve this problem, it is important to identify the priority levers for innovation policy that enable the digital economy.

A key element of this is to align research with the needs of the digital economy. This will involve closer collaboration between education and industry, so as to develop innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurial culture.

In developing countries, particularly in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Cambodia, improved access to the internet and accurate information has been important for young people as well as greater freedom of movement and opportunity for female youth, particularly in rural areas. Youth, from all consultations, wish to see an end to the practice of child marriage and associated family violence.

Within the region, followed by India, Maldives, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; Afghanistan improved in gender parity in literacy, economic marginalization, early marriage and gender parity in safety and security.

As per the latest report, the index further reveals that the conditions of young people have improved around the world by 3.1 percent between 2010 and 2018, but progress remains slow. The Commonwealth Secretariat on Tuesday released its triennial rankings of youth development in 181 countries, with 156 of them recording at least slight improvements in their scores. While the data used in the index pre-dates Covid-19, the report highlights the positive trajectory of youth development, which the virus could reverse for the first time unless urgent action is taken to secure the pre-pandemic gains.

Afghanistan, India, Russia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso were the top five improvers, advancing their score, on average, by 15.74 percent. On the other hand, Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Jordan and Lebanon showed the greatest decline in youth development between 2010 and 2018. As per overall global trends, the index shows advances in youth’s participation in peace processes and their education, employment, inclusion and health care since 2010. The global education score increased by 3 percent, with South Asia making the largest improvement of 16 percent followed by Sub-Saharan Africa with 10 percent.