International Engagement Through Education: Remarks by Secretary Arne Duncan at the Council on Foreign Relations Meeting

In order for youth to be successful contributors to society in this “competitive global economy,” we must invest in quality education. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, American youth are not receiving the type of education that they deserve. Approximately 7,000 high school students are dropping out each day. Effective education measures and procedures must be taken to secure the future of America’s long-term economic prospects, as the country works to promote growth and stability. Secretary Duncan explains that it is impossible to equip youth with the necessary skills to become entrepreneurs and to enter the workforce without a quality education. Major global challenges facing youth such as hunger, poverty, and unemployment will not be overcome until more is done to empower youth with education.

Duncan, Arne. “International Engagement Through Education: Remarks by Secretary Arne Duncan at the Council on Foreign Relations Meeting.” 26 May 2010. Web. 5 November 2015. <http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/international-engagement-through-education-remarks-secretary-arne-duncan-council-foreign-relations-meeting>.


A Well-Educated Workforce Is Key to State Prosperity

The authors of this study explain that providing quality education is a significant way in which states can make a lasting, positive impact on the national economy and its population. Investment in the education of youth is crucial for economic productivity. By providing quality education, countries are building “a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity.” Fostering the development of educated and well-informed youth results in better economic opportunities, as well as reduced rates of crime. Facilitating widespread access to quality education, especially among underserved youth, will expand young people’s economic potential and subsequently have a profound impact on the economic development of their nation.

Berger, Noah and Pete Fisher. “A Well-Educated Workforce Is Key to State Prosperity.” Economic Policy Institute. 22 August 2013. Web. 5 November 2015. <http://www.epi.org/publication/states-education-productivity-growth-foundations>.


The Potential of Youth for a Demographic Dividend

In today’s rapidly changing global economy, investing in young people’s education and health is essential for the development of a potent labor force in Africa. As stated in this report, a healthy and productive youth population can help a country reach a demographic dividend, which is “the accelerated economic growth that may result from a rapid decline in a country’s fertility and the subsequent change in the population age structure.” For example, women who are educated are more likely to work outside the home, marry later and have smaller families, all of which contribute to the demographic dividend by having more people in the workforce and having fewer people to support financially. The report further emphasizes that increased education can inform young people of safe reproductive health and avoid unplanned pregnancies. To realize the vast potential of African youth for economic development, African leaders must establish economic policies that will help youth contribute to society as educated and healthy individuals.

“The Potential of Youth for a Demographic Dividend.” Population Reference Bureau. 2013. Web. 5 November 2015. <http://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1864/EN-HLMM_Youth.pdf>.


Africa’s Youthful Population: Risk or Opportunity?

Large educated youth populations have the potential to spur future economic development and prosperity in African nations. The author notes that if the younger generation receives high quality education and have fewer children when they are older, a window of opportunity known as the “demographic dividend” will open. Through this, a population can begin to increase economic productivity, utilize technology more efficiently, and further improve the quality of education. East Asia serves as a current example of achieving a demographic dividend, where the growth in GDP (gross domestic product) averaged 6 percent annually between 1965 and 1990. The author explains that having an educated youth population is not sufficient, since there are several risks associated with supporting a large youth population. Many countries may not have enough established institutions or available work opportunities to support a large youth workforce. Thus, the author emphasizes the need for a fertility decline to accompany an educated youth workforce in order to strengthen a nation’s economy.

Ashford, Lori S. “Africa’s Youthful Population: Risk or Opportunity?” Population Reference Bureau. June 2007. Web. 6 November 2015. <http://www.prb.org/pdf07/africayouth.pdf>.


The Role of Young People in Poverty Reduction

In this publication, the National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations discusses the concept of “Youth Perspective,” which involves recognizing young people as agents of change in global development and involving them in global discussions. Young people are often underrepresented and marginalized in matters concerning their own futures. Only by incorporating the “Youth Perspective” can we enable young people to play an active role in helping eliminate poverty, which is Goal 1 of the 2015 United Nations Millennium Development Goals (UN MDGs). It is important to note that this publication was produced in 2009, prior to the 2015 deadline of the UN MDGs. Since then, these eight goals have expanded into 17 more detailed objectives through the newly agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals, which include: “promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all” and “build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” Looking beyond 2015, the authors’ arguments still stand true. Youth involvement is crucial in order to help develop and implement influential economic solutions and plans of actions worldwide.

The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations. “The Role of Young People in Poverty Reduction.” Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. 2009. Web. 6 November 2015. <http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/publications/TPTPublication.pdf>.

Leave a Reply