In India, an estimated 270 million people aged 15 and older remain illiterate, says Microsoft Corp. commissioned report from the International Youth Foundation, Opportunity for Action.
Young women aged 15 to 24 are twice as likely as young men their age to be illiterate. Among working youth, approximately one in four is illiterate, and fewer than one in five completes secondary education.
The report reveals less than half (44 percent) of them enroll in the equivalent of India’s senior secondary school and even fewer graduate. The Opportunity for Action report documents about 2 percent of India’s population, or about 240 million people, are youth aged 15 to 24.
The report documents the growing economic and social challenges facing youth around the world and the urgent need to provide the education, skills and employment opportunities required for them to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economy.
The report underlines the emergence of an opportunity divide among young people worldwide. On a global basis, the unemployment rate for youth is currently 12.7 percent, or more than double the six percent global average for unemployment as a whole. While some youth are prospering, many others who lack access to education, skills and opportunities face growing challenges. As the global youth population of 1.2 billion the largest in history grows over time, the gap risks widening even further between those with opportunity and those without.
The Opportunity for Action report documents nearly 75 million young people, globally, 9.9 percent of which are in South Asia, are unemployed.
As the report shows, basic literacy remains a significant problem.. The education deficit is not filled by technical/vocational education and training (TVET). Only 6 percent of urban youth and 3 percent of rural youth attend TVET at the secondary level. Attendance rates for girls have declined since 1999, and currently fewer than 25 percent of girls in India attend vocational training.
On the positive side, ICTs have promising applications for education delivery in the Country, although such initiatives must be tailored to regional differences, and teacher training in the use of ICTs is crucial to a program’s success.
There are varying causes for the opportunity divide around the world. Latin American youth have greater access to education than ever before, but there are low education completion rates across the region. In contrast, there are a growing number of youth in the Middle East and Africa with university degrees who find there are no jobs to match their advanced skills.
And in Sub Saharan Africa, where 23 percent of children are not even enrolled in primary school, young people are grossly underemployed in low skill, low-quality jobs and 72 percent earn less than $2 (U.S.) per day simply to survive. In Asia, there are a large number of working poor, particularly in rural environments, and there is a lack of technical/vocational training to open new opportunities.
In response to the report findings, Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel, said, “While the reasons for the opportunity divide vary country by country, the global trend is unfortunately the same everywhere. As the International Youth Foundation reports, unemployment has been on the rise for young people worldwide. More than ever, the public and private sectors need to work together to provide youth with access to education, skills, and better job opportunities. We must move from ‘opportunity divided’ to ‘opportunity provided’ for all.”
For the past decade, Microsoft programs and partnerships have helped millions of young people worldwide create a better future for themselves through investments in education, skills training and programs that provide access to job opportunities. The International Youth Foundation report indicates that there is more work to be done.
“History has shown us that when young people thrive, society prospers. The data in this report show us that far too many young people today are struggling, and the reasons why. We must act now so that the world’s youth have the opportunities they need to succeed in the 21st century workforce. Our collective future depends upon it,“ said William Reese, president and CEO, International Youth Foundation.
Microsoft is working with governments, nonprofits, industry colleagues, educators and youth themselves to close the opportunity divide.