Engaging young people in health and education policy in Commonwealth Countries

Young people constitute 60 per cent of the population of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth represents a diverse family of countries with many countries experiencing ageing populations, whilst others are experiencing the so called ‘youth bulge’ as a consequence of improved maternal and child health (a).

Poor health and low quality, or insufficient access to education in the youth population can be detrimental to national economies through direct economic losses for treatment and loss of productivity from indirect costs. Health and education goals can be better achieved if young people are fully engaged as partners and leaders in addressing social development issues through planning, monitoring and evaluating programs and policies (b).

Young people today face many of the same problems encountered by generations preceding them such as ensuring they have the necessary skills to find useful employment and lead healthy happy lives. Some challenges are new; some are long-standing but on a scale not previously experienced. Climate change and biodiversity are becoming some of the biggest drivers of change in the modern world. Globalisation, migration and technological innovation and their effects on decent work and health have been around in some form for decades. The pace of change, however, is now so fast that keeping up becomes increasingly difficult. In some countries, the current cohort of youth has even been referred to as ‘generation jobless’, or as a ticking health time-bomb.

Are the skills acquired by school leavers and graduates, and those required by employers in a rapidly changing economy sufficiently well aligned? Do young people develop sufficient knowledge and health behaviours to navigate the modern world with the increasing advertising noise and competing health messages? Please share your experiences and good practices.

This topic is open for contributions until 11 November 2016 after which a summative report will be produced.


1. How do health and education policies and services need to change to adequately address the needs of young people responding to contemporary societal challenges such as?

a. Urbanisation, which includes challenges for rural populations;
b. Changes in job markets including; skilled labour migration and technological unemployment;
c. Impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss;
d. Extremist violence; and
e. Gender inequities

2. How can governments meet the health and education services expectations of young people in Commonwealth countries?

3. What techniques work to engage young people in education and health policy development in Commonwealth countries?


(a) Necessity could be the mother of innovation

(b) Youth Participation in development; A Guide for Development Agencies and Policy Makers

Young People and the Future of Emerging Markets

The Commonwealth Youth Development Index (YDI)

Your Commonwealth – the youth perspective

The Commonwealth Youth Programme

A rigorous review of the political economy of education systems in developing countries

Impact of research on policy and practice

Bridging research and policy in international development: an analytical and practical framework

Decent work

Please contribute to the discussion by emailing us at: eduhub@commonwealth.int

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