Illiteracy, no jobs, high risk activities among South Asia’s young could stifle progress

Illiteracy, no jobs and high risk behaviour among South Asia’s young people could affect the region’s progress and development, the World Bank says.

About 20 percent of South Asia’s population is between 15 and 24, 30 percent are illiterate and they account for half of the unemployed in the region.

The World Bank is meeting with youth across South Asia to understand changing demographics in the region and development challenges in their home countries.

Supporting young people’s transition to adulthood poses important opportunities and risky challenges for development policy. Are education systems preparing young people to cope with the demands of changing economies? the World Bank said in a statement on Tuesday.

What kind of support do they get as they enter the labour market? Can they move freely to where the jobs are? What can be done to help them avoid serious consequences of risky behaviour, such as death from HIV-AIDS and drug abuse? Can their creative energy be directed productively to support development thinking?

The Bank’s development Report for 2007 will focus on youth issues – learning for life and