Sunday 11 November 2018

The British Council in Ethiopia just finished receiving proposals for conducting a nationwide research on the state of Youth. Next Generation is a global research programme initiated in countries that are experiencing a period of significant change, with the purpose of ensuring that young people’s voices are heard and their interests properly represented in decisions that will have lasting implications for their lives focused on youth attitudes and aspirations. 

By ‘Significant change,’ we look to see how one or more significant changes or periods of activity – particularly when a number of events or circumstance come together – affects young people’s view of themselves and their place in the world. 

The first Next Generation report was launched in 2009 in Pakistan. This was followed by two more reports on youth voice in the country, each focusing on a different area of interest. Due to the report’s success, the research has since been replicated in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Tanzania, the UK, Ukraine and other countries. The research is also currently work underway in Ireland/Northern Ireland, Myanmar, Germany, and Kenya. Each of these reports was launched in reaction to a pivotal time in that country’s history and ensured the views of young people were reflected in national and international dialogues.

The UK research was sparked by the Brexit referendum; in South Africa, by the sense that the ‘born free’ (post-apartheid) generation are coming of age and are dissatisfied with the post-apartheid social contract; in Colombia, by a young generation coming to terms with the new peace settlement.

When we come to Ethiopia, with the country’s new Prime Minister-elect; Dr. Abiy Ahimed, a number of reforms have taken place, including the release of thousands of political prisoners, the end of the state of war with Eritrea, the end of a state of emergency that was imposed to quell two-and-a-half years of deadly anti-government protests, the announcement of an economic liberalisation plan, the permission for dissidents to return home and unblocking of hundreds of websites and TV channels, and the appointment of women to head the presidency, the federal supreme court and half of the ministerial posts in the country..

Needless to say, young Ethiopians have been affected highly by these optimistic reforms of the Prime Minister. The youth in Ethiopia were discouraged, disheartened and disobedient from repeatedly dashed hopes and expectations. They were also excluded from decision-making and denied the chance to contribute to their economies and societies. 

Hence, this research will examine young people’s sense of their lives now, and in the future. Do they feel like they actually have a stake and say in society/politics? Do they have hopes, aspirations and dreams in their country?  Do they have an appetite for social change among their generation?

The study seeks to analyse the conditions that support young people and allow them to reach their potential as fulfilled, productive and active citizens. The research is always completed with a series of recommendations based on supporting policy change.

The project combines policy-relevant research with a strategic communications campaign to disseminate the findings widely and use them to enhance young people’s ability to influence the policy environment.