2. A joint vision for youth in Jordan: The National Youth Strategy 2019-25

Jordan is one of four economies along with Kuwait, the Palestinian Authority and the United Arab Emirates in the MENA region with an operational National Youth Strategy (NYS) in place.1 After its adoption by Cabinet in May 2019, Jordan’s National Strategy for Youth 2019-25 was launched in the presence of then Prime Minister Omar Razzaz in July 2019.

The adoption of the Strategy at the highest political level presents a significant step to place young people’s concerns more prominently on the political agenda. It formulates the mission to “promote youth work and the development of young people in an educational, skilful and valuable way, enabling them to innovate, create, produce and participate in political life and public affairs” (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). It also underlines the need to address contemporary challenges and to foster sustainable development by strengthening youth’s resilience. Its vision and mission statements are supported by speeches delivered by King Abdullah II and national frameworks, such as Jordan’s Vision 2025 and the Renaissance Plan.

The COVID-19 crisis has unveiled the importance of an integrated approach to the delivery of public programmes and services to young people. Youth in Jordan have been hit hard by the social and economic consequences of the crisis (Chapter 1) as existing concerns and vulnerabilities, especially among young people at risk, have risen (e.g. youth living in poor households, school drop-outs, unemployed youth, disabled youth). Indeed, the risk of young people falling into poverty and cut access to income, employment opportunities, access to education and mental and physical health support has been aggravated by the pandemic. The closure of universities, schools, youth centres and other spaces for youth to meet, interact and learn has cut back on social life and connections and risks leaving “scaring” effects on their future careers and earnings, and ultimately pensions. For instance, OECD estimates show that a lost school year can be considered equivalent to a loss of between 7% and 10% of lifetime income (OECD, 2020[2]). To avoid that inequalities at a young age compound over the life circle, governments must create an environment in which young people have access to quality public services. Disruptions in young people’s transition to the classical milestones of adulthood also creates significant long-term costs for societies and economies, undermining social cohesion and inclusive growth (OECD, 2020[3]).

This Chapter will not review in detail the programmes covered by the strategy and to what extent they are fit to lift youth on a more positive trajectory after COVID-19. Instead, it will analyse the processes, institutional capacities and engagement formats put in place to help design, implement and monitor and evaluate its strategic objectives. Its ambition is genuinely practical: previous strategies were suspended due to changing political priorities and gaps in the governance arrangements to implement and track progress (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]; OECD, 2018[4]). In support of MoY’s ambition to translate its commitments into tangible improvements in the lives of young men and women, the Chapter will identify strengths and opportunities to invest into its administrative capacity to steer, coordinate and build strategic partnerships for this purpose.

It is organised in three sections:

First, it will discuss the benefits of investing into the quality of national integrated youth strategies and introduce the OECD Assessment Framework of National Youth Strategies;

Second, it will benchmark Jordan’s National Youth Strategy 2019-25 against the eight principles of good governance as set out in the OECD Assessment Framework and provide comparative evidence from across MENA and OECD countries;

Third, based on the assessment, it will present policy recommendations for the Ministry of Youth and its governmental and non-governmental partners to steer, coordinate, and track progress of the NYS 2019-25 efficiently and effectively.

OECD findings demonstrate that investments into the quality of National Youth Strategies pay off with a return. In OECD countries that rank higher in the OECD Assessment Framework for National Youth Strategies, which will be introduced below, young people are more likely to express higher interest in politics (OECD, 2020[3]). OECD data gathered during the COVID-19 pandemic among youth-led organisations also demonstrates that effective, inclusive and transparent governance is an important driver of trust of young people in governments and contributes to the legitimacy of government action (OECD, 2020[5]). Moreover, such strategies can help address the risk of policy fragmentation, mobilise public (and private) resources for youth programming and clarify the mandates of various stakeholders involved. It is important to note that adopting an integrated youth strategy alone, however, is not sufficient and that countries pursuing a more “mainstreamed approach” (i.e. greater responsibility with individual entities without overarching framework) can also deliver positive results if certain conditions are met (i.e. strong co-ordination and monitoring and evaluation frameworks in place).

In 2004, Jordan was the first country in the MENA region to announce a multi-annual strategy focused on young people. However, as will be discussed further below, the results of previous attempts to roll out a whole-of-government youth strategy have remained behind expectations (Milton-Edwards, 2018[6]; OECD, 2016[7]). With the adoption of the NYS 2019-25, Jordan joined Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania and the Palestinian Authority among the OECD-surveyed MENA economies. In addition, at least four MENA economies have been in the process of elaborating a strategy, as of May 2021.

Youth policy, programming and service delivery cuts across various ministerial departments and portfolios, levels of government and the mandate of various non-governmental stakeholders. In Jordan, community-based organisations (CBOs) play a critical role at subnational level, often in remote areas, to provide trainings to develop young people’s skills and raise awareness for their rights. Moreover, various foundations affiliated to the Royal Court and non-governmental organisations with a broader mandate run important initiatives for youth in areas such as active citizenship, employment training, critical thinking, and access to mental health services and others. While the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders can facilitate expanding access to critical services, such systems must mitigate the risk of fragmentation.

National Integrated Youth Strategies can help overcome fragmented coverage, integrate youth-specific considerations in sectoral policies and allocate clear mandates and mechanisms to ensure co-ordination. Notably, young people (organised and non-organised) are not simply passive recipients of public services but should have an active stake to inform its priorities, identify opportunities for partnerships in the implementation and hold government to account in keeping track of its progress as recognised by Jordan’s strategy (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). In turn, National Youth Strategies can help mobilise public resources for youth programming and serve as important tool to set and communicate the rationale, objectives and expected outcomes for its younger citizens.

Across the OECD, around 76% (25 out of 33) of member countries, for which data is available, have an operational national or federal multi-year youth strategy in place. Results from the OECD Youth Governance Reviews demonstrate that the three top concerns for countries adopting a NYS are to support youth in their transition to adult life (100%), to engage them in the decision-making process (88%) and to integrate their concerns across all relevant policy and service areas (84%) (OECD, 2020[3]). Besides, 64% of government entities in charge of youth affairs point to the importance of strengthening governance tools and mechanisms to deliver policy outcomes that are responsive to young people’s demands.

Whereas the national objective identified by Jordan’s National Youth Strategy 2019-25 is focused on “building a generation capable of creativity and innovation with high productivity”, it acknowledges also the need for investments into broader governance arrangements (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). Notably, it calls for MoY’s institutional capacities, networking and partnerships, physical infrastructure (e.g. youth centres) and respective human resources (e.g. skills of youth centre staff), and capacity to provide targeted approaches in the work with youth with diverse interests, priorities, age and geographic background. Moreover, youth empowerment and their integration into public life are identified as cross-cutting priorities.

The strategy identifies seven themes, which are further expanded in the form of nine strategic objectives (Table 2.1), each of which is linked to one of the Sustainable Development Goals (i.e. poverty reduction; good health and prosperity; good education; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reducing inequalities; peace, justice and strong institutions; entering into partnerships to achieve objectives).

The next section will introduce the OECD Assessment Framework of National Youth Strategies and discuss to what extent Jordan’s NYS is aligned with the eight principles of good governance it builds upon. It will identify the strategy’s core strengths and opportunities to reinforce mechanisms, processes and administrative capacities to achieve its strategic objectives.

The OECD Assessment Framework of National Youth Strategies identifies eight principles of good governance to guide the elaboration of National Youth Strategies: 1) evidence-based, 2) participatory, 3) resourced, 4) transparent and accessible, 5) monitored, evaluated and accountable, 6) cross-sectoral, 7) gender-responsive and 8) supported by high-level political commitment. It provides an integrated approach to guide policy makers throughout the different stages of the youth strategy cycle.

The framework draws on OECD instruments, including the OECD Recommendation on Open Government (OECD, 2017[8]), Gender Equality in Public Life (OECD, 2016[9]), Regulatory Policy and Governance (OECD, 2012[10]), Budgetary Governance (OECD, 2015[11]), Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (OECD, 2019[12]) and the OECD Policy Framework on Sound Public Governance (OECD, 2019[13]). It also takes into account guidelines prepared at the international level, such as the Lisboa+21 Declaration by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth 2019, the Baku Commitment to Youth Policies and principles elaborated by international and non-governmental organisations.

Besides the eight core principles, it provides further definitions and explanations to operationalise each and allow for benchmarking or comparing country practices (Table 2.2). Findings from the OECD Youth Governance Surveys demonstrate that positive outcomes in one quality standard are associated with positive outcomes in others, hence suggesting that they are mutually reinforcing. Therefore, they should be pursued by policy makers in tandem.

In 2004, Jordan was the first country in the MENA region to elaborate a multi-annual National Youth Strategy. Since, at least five more plans were in the phase of development. However, the current National Youth Strategy 2019-25 is the first to be adopted by Cabinet. A review of the draft strategies and the processes that led to their elaboration between 2011 and 2018 illustrates that their implementation failed due to changing political priorities and a number of reoccurring “governance gaps”. These shall be discussed briefly below before the section will analyse the NYS 2019-25 against the eight principles of good governance introduced in Table 2.1.

Work on the National Youth Strategy 2005-09 and a corresponding action plan was led by the Higher Council for Youth (predecessor of the Ministry of Youth until 2016, see Chapter 3) in co-operation with international development partners. Drawing on evidence collected through UNICEF’s National Youth Survey (2002) and consultations with young people, the strategy targeted youth aged 12-30 years and identified nine thematic priorities. To support its implementation, it recommended the creation of a National Youth Forum for civil society organisations (CSOs) and a Youth Advisory Group. The creation of an inter-ministerial committee and technical committee was expected to facilitate the participation and coordination with line ministries, international partners and organisations affiliated with Jordan’s Royal Court. Neither the National Youth Forum for CSOs nor the Youth Advisory Group were created though.

In 2011, the Higher Council for Youth started to work on a second strategy. Efforts were suspended quickly after the available evidence was found to be outdated and the process to lack inclusivity and sustainability, according to the interviews conducted by OECD.2 A new initiative was started by the Higher Council for Youth a few years later in co-operation with line ministries, non-governmental stakeholders and international partners. The 2014-18 strategy drew on evidence from an evaluation of the 2005-09 strategy and identified nine priority areas. It envisaged the creation of committees to prepare a work plan and steer and oversee its implementation. Due to delays, the strategy later focused on the period 2016-18. Ultimately, however, it was not adopted because relevant stakeholders had not been consulted and its focus was considered to be too general, according to the interviews.

The latest attempt to adopt a multi-year strategy focused on young people resulted in the draft National Youth Empowerment Strategy 2017-25. It laid out five guiding principles and themes and foresaw the elaboration of three-year Action Plans and a monitoring and evaluation system to address the implementation challenges previous strategies exposed. Led by the (new) Ministry of Youth, the strategy was also expected to consolidate its role as “umbrella ministry“ for any youth-related initiative and related funding.3 With the support of international partners, a Steering Committee, stakeholder advisory bodies and an inter-ministerial working group were created to ensure a coordinated approach across various stakeholders. However, as for previous attempts, significant less emphasis was placed on building the necessary capacity and capabilities within the Ministry of Youth to effectively steer and coordinate the process.

Five reoccurring challenges stand out in reviewing previous efforts to adopt and implement a National Youth Strategy in Jordan. First, disruptions due to frequent changes in the political leadership of the Ministry of Youth and changing thematic priorities negatively affected its capacity to plan for the long-term. Second, concerns about outdated or incomplete (age-disaggregated) evidence to inform the identification of priorities and design of programmes frequently delayed or stopped the process. Third, despite the use of different channels to consult young people in the process (e.g. surveys, online questionnaires, meetings in youth centres), there is no evidence about the impact of their contributions. Information gathered during the interviews conducted by OECD also suggest a rather narrow focus on consulting youth that were already registered with the youth centres, raising questions about the inclusiveness of the engagement formats. Fourth, inter-ministerial committees and other bodies set up to work on action plans, oversee implementation and monitor and evaluate progress, ceased to exist.

Finally, somewhat underlying the challenges discussed above, better outcomes were hampered by blurred accountability lines and the fact that no genuine investments were made into skilling up MoY employees and creating sustainable institutional capacities to run and oversee implementation (e.g. systems to gather, transfer and store information; M&E unit). Chapter 3 will discuss the “administrative capacity challenge“ but also promising new initiatives taken by the Ministry of Youth to address it, in greater detail.

Findings from the OECD report “Fit for all generations?” highlight that government entities in charge of youth affairs across OECD countries and selected non-members are facing somewhat similar challenges. Across the OECD, only 20% of National Youth Strategies (5 out of 25) are fully participatory, budgeted and monitored and evaluated. Gaps in the governance arrangements can have negative effects for the legitimacy of the strategy, the support and ownership it enjoys by youth stakeholders, and ultimately on programmes and services for young people. Therefore, investments into these arrangements are crucial.

The elaboration of the NYS 2019-25 coincided with demonstrations over economic policies, reduced subsidies and the proposed income-tax law in 2018 and 2019. They also merged with renewed demands for a citizen-centred political system and an end to corruption, and new concerns about the enabling environment for youth participation, especially on social media (Chapter 3) (OECD, 2017[14]). In 2018, as per the decision of the Cabinet, the lead on the elaboration of the youth strategy was taken over by a Technical Committee with representatives from the Ministry of Youth, line ministries, non-governmental youth stakeholders and international partners before it was officially launched by Prime Minister Omar Razzaz in July 2019.

The following sections will benchmark Jordan’s National Youth Strategy 2019-25 against the eight principles of good governance as presented in OECD’s Assessment Framework of National Youth Strategies. It will also provide comparative evidence and good practices from OECD countries in the interest of supporting the achievement of its strategic objectives.

High-level political support is critical to generate buy-in across various stakeholders in government and the public and to mobilise resources for the implementation of a youth strategy. Such support can take different shapes, such as statements by the country’s leadership, prominent references in government-wide plans or with the location of the youth portfolio within the public administration. In Austria, Colombia and Japan, for instance, units inside the Centre of Government (CoG)4 steer and coordinate youth affairs across the government. In Germany, the National Youth Strategy was launched jointly by the Head of Government and Minister in charge of youth (OECD, 2020[3]).

Since 2000, the role of the young generation as “the greatest asset and hope for the future” and need for subsequent governments to “tap our young people’s intellectual, creative, and reproductive potential in order for Jordan to keep up with new developments in global scientific, economic and social factors” (UNDP, 2000[15]) has been claimed publicly by King Abdullah II. In various Speeches from the Throne and Discussion Papers, he reiterated the importance to involve young people in the development of their country, to listen to their views and to empower youth by developing the state administration and enhancing the rule of law. In this context, King Abdullah II also called for a

“comprehensive national strategy on youth […] with the aim of cementing values of good citizenship, the state of law and love of the country. These programmes should also empower young people to realise their potential and expand their horizons and immune them against extremist evil ideologies.” (Obeidat, 17 October 2016[16])

The creation of the Crown Prince Foundation in 2015 and its vision to support “Capable youth for an aspiring Jordan” gave new impetus to political reflections upon the situation of youth in Jordan. Around the same time, at global stage, Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II led discussions that resulted in UN Resolution 2250 – the first to urge countries to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels and set up mechanisms to enable young people to participate meaningfully in peace processes and dispute resolution (UN, 2015[17]). In 2016, the transformation of the Higher Council for Youth into the Ministry of Youth marked another important milestone to institutionalise Jordan’s ambition to place “youth” high on the political agenda.

The National Youth Strategy 2019-25 places itself in the context of royal directives and strategic government plans, most notably Vision 2025 and government strategies focused on employment (National Employment Strategy 2011-2020; Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Labour 2017-21), economic development (Jordan Economic Catalyzing Growth Plan 2018), poverty reduction (Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013-20), human resource development (National Strategy for Human Resources development 2016-25), social cohesion and sport (Strategy of the Olympic Committee 2018) (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). It also delivers on Jordan’s Renaissance Plan 2019-20 and its commitment to integrate youth in public life and decision making; to develop their democratic culture, citizenship and pluralism; and to review legislation related to increasing the political participation of youth (Government of Jordan, n.d.[18]).

The availability and use of reliable, relevant and up-to-date data is critical to reflect the heterogeneous realities, needs and potential of young people in all relevant policy areas. Jordan’s National Youth Strategy 2019-25 acknowledges that programmes and activities in youth centres should be targeted to the specific needs of youth in different governorates. Sound evidence, especially from across the subnational levels of government, is also critical to underpin efforts to monitor and evaluate implementation and to feed the insights from this exercise back into strategic planning and policy making.

To take different circumstances and potential vulnerabilities of youth into account, NYS evidence should be disaggregated by age and identity factors such as gender, socio-economic background, disability and migrant status. Inequalities tend to accumulate over numerous identity factors (e.g. young, female, at risk of poverty) and therefore deserve specific attention by policy makers (OECD, 2017[19]). As a life stage that is characteristic of numerous “transition processes”, careful consideration must be given to cover all relevant areas determining youth’s wellbeing, including income and wealth, work and job quality, housing, health, knowledge and skills, environmental quality, subjective well-being, safety, work-life-balance, social connections and civil engagement.5 Averages may mask important disparities between groups and should hence be complemented by evidence on inequalities between groups, between top and bottom performers and with a focus on deprivations (OECD, 2021[20]).

The statistical evidence presented in the NYS 2019-25 is concentrated on a number of high-level indicators on demographics, youth unemployment and the physical infrastructure of youth spaces managed by the Ministry of Youth (e.g. youth centres, youth clubs). Whereas the seven themes and nine strategic objectives of Jordan’s NYS cover a wide range of public policy and service areas, the evidence provided to underpin this prioritisation is limited. This is also acknowledged by the SWOT analysis of Jordan’s youth sector, which is integrated in the strategy and refers to the lack of specialised studies on youth issues as a “weakness” (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). Compiling age-disaggregated evidence is also perceived as a challenge by many OECD countries. For instance, among the countries with a National Youth Strategy in place, ministries in charge of youth affairs point to a lack of youth-focused data on the social inclusion of vulnerable groups (45%), youth participation in public life (42%), conflict prevention (36%) and youth rights (36%) (OECD, 2020[3]).

The strategy was informed by a review of royal directives and national strategies, an evaluation of the 2004-09 strategy, international good practices, the SWOT analysis and results of a survey of Jordanian youth, conducted by the General Statistics Department in 2014. Young people were consulted via “tick-the box“ opinion polls (targeting age groups 12-18 and 19-30 years) and focus group meetings in 2017. The summary report produced by MoY was not made public. According to the interviews conducted by OECD, evidence was difficult to compile in a number of areas, including youth’s participation in volunteering and elections, school drop-outs, health, and the social exclusion of vulnerable groups.

Besides the availability and use of relevant and granular information, the broader IT infrastructure and information systems are critical to facilitate the exchange of data and information across stakeholders (e.g. between the central and subnational level; data storage system, etc.). The lack of an effective data storage system within the Ministry of Youth and at the level of Jordan’s 12 governorates (Youth Directorates) is an important impediment to create and transfer institutional memory. Targeted investments into MoY’s capacity to collect and use relevant evidence, and in building information systems that facilitate the transfer of information are needed and an important condition to enhance the quality of policy design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

Besides political commitment and evidence, the ambition to deliver youth-responsive policy outcomes requires young people’s meaningful participation in the process. Accordingly, the OECD Recommendation on Open Government calls on governments to “grant all stakeholders equal and fair opportunities to be informed and consulted and actively engage them in all phases of the policy-cycle and service design and delivery” (OECD, 2017[8]). Young people’s active involvement throughout the different stages increases their ownership and provides a source of heterogeneous ideas and motivations for policy makers to tap upon. It is also critical to ensure the inclusiveness and accountability of policy outcomes. Whereas national youth councils often act as the official representation of young people’s interests vis-à-vis government (exist in 77% of OECD countries covered in the 2019 OECD Youth Governance Survey), there is no such body in Jordan (Chapter 4).

Policy makers must take into account the different life circumstances of young people. According to 2018 data from the Pew Research Center, for instance, 93% of 18-29 year old in Jordan own or share a smartphone (85% of the total population). However, this share drops to 76% for the total population with lower than secondary education (Pew Research Center, 2019[21]). Specific attention must be paid to reach out to youth living in remote conditions, poor households and other conditions that put them at high risk of exclusion. A multi-channel approach is needed to involve youth in both virtual and offline formats and target vulnerable groups specifically. This is a significant challenge shared by OECD countries as only 4 out of 10 with a NYS reports that non-organised youth were consulted in the design phase (OECD, 2020[3]).

In turn, findings from the OECD “Fit for all generations?” report indicate that investments into meaningful youth participation in the policy cycle pay off. Figure 2.3 illustrates that youth-led organisations in OECD countries expressed higher satisfaction with the final strategy when they were involved throughout the different stages (e.g. in defining, drafting and reviewing thematic areas) than organisations that were involved ad hoc or not at all.

The NYS 2019-25 calls for a change in political (and media) attitudes to address the dominance of negative stereotypes in the public discourse about youth. It claims that narratives that identify “youth” as risk or solely beneficiaries of state institutions must be overcome and that, instead, young people’s stance in the legislative, political, institutional and social fabric should be encouraged (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). This shift is a critical condition for meaningful youth participation.

Practically, young people were involved in the elaboration of the strategy via “tick-the-box” opinion polls and focus groups meetings in 2017. Vulnerable youth were not targeted specifically but were, to some extent, represented in the opinion polls and focus groups. The consultations took place in the review phase when the main pillars of the strategy and commitments had been identified. Similarly, while 88% of OECD countries engaged young people in the design of their most recent National Youth Strategy, only every second did so across the full cycle of defining its objectives and priorities, preparing a draft version and reviewing it for final adoption (OECD, 2020[3]). According to the interviews conducted by OECD, young people in Jordan were not informed about whether their input was taken into account. To increase the transparency and accountability of the participatory process, Canada and New Zealand published specific summary reports of young people’s inputs, which were made public (OECD, 2020[3]).

As further discussed in Chapter 4, the opportunities for young people to shape programming in the youth centres at local level is also rather limited.

Adequate financial, human and technical resources must be provided to ensure the successful implementation of the National Youth Strategy. This concerns the internal capacity of the government entity in charge of steering the strategy and the support provided to implementation partners, for instance youth/community-based organisations, youth workers and non-governmental service providers. Such support can take the form of financial support (e.g. through grants for youth-led initiatives), training and capacity building and physical infrastructure (e.g. youth centres), among others. While the MoY does not provide direct financial support to the third sector in Jordan, it supports youth clubs and affiliated associations. Findings from the OECD report “Fit for all generations?” suggests that adequate financial resources can facilitate coordination across government entities, however, only 17 of 25 NYS are backed by earmarked funding (OECD, 2020[3]).

According to the Ministry of Youth, as of May 2021, Jordanian Dinar (JOD) 500,000 (around USD 705,000) have been allocated by its budget to the implementation of the strategy. Reportedly, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and closed youth centres, activities in 2019 and 2020 were implemented primarily virtually.6 Partnerships with national and international partners was expected to secure additional funding and implementation support. As will be discussed further in Chapter 3, the limited budget for youth programming is one of the key challenges faced by MoY, as is also recognised by the SWOT analysis that informed the elaboration of the strategy (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]).

The Ministry of Youth is the main or co-responsible entity for around two-thirds of all projects covered by the strategy. The ministries of education, labour, information and communication technology are each involved in four projects, the ministries of health and Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places in three, and the ministries of culture, environment and public works and housing in one, respectively. Implementing partners are expected to include projects in their respective strategic plans, identify necessary resources, prepare operational plans and monitor financial costs (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). However, as of May 2021, it is unclear if line ministries have mobilised financial resources to deliver on the NYS’s objectives.

In terms of human resource capacity to deliver on the strategy, both employees at the central level and subnational level (e.g. Youth Directors, managers of youth centres) play a crucial role. Chapter 3 finds that only 36 out of 1881 employees at the ministry work in the General or Local Administration whereas most staff fulfils support functions. Moreover, employees working in the youth centres, who are expected to play an important role in rolling out programmes and initiatives, do not always have the qualifications to work with young people according to the interviews conducted by OECD. This is also acknowledged by the NYS 2019-25, which lists “poor efficiency of human resources working with young people” as a challenge (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]).

Trainings provided by the Youth Leadership Centre, the internal capacity building arm at MoY, do not include activities to skill up employees in the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of policy or programmes. Limited financial and human resource capacity to steer the NYS 2019-25 presents a risk and points to a more fundamental need to invest in building administrative capacity within MoY in order to mitigate dependency on external support (see Chapter 3).

Easy access to the strategy is crucial to promote transparency and public scrutiny, and ultimately youth’s trust in government. In turn, the strategy can serve as a communication tool for government to demonstrate how it translates high-level political commitments into youth-responsive programmes and services.

The NYS 2019-25 is available on the website of the ministry in Arabic and English and can be downloaded (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[22]). No public information is available in terms of the distribution of roles and responsibilities within MoY. For instance, the Organisation Chart available on the website7 does not specify which thematic division(s) will be in charge, nor does a “who is who” section with contact information exists. There is also no information about the progress achieved in implementing the strategy, for instance in the form of an annual report or list of ongoing and completed initiatives to deliver on its objectives. Across OECD countries with a National Youth Strategy in place, 88% publish the results of monitoring and evaluation exercises. The most common channel used is the ministry website (60%), followed by annual reports available to the public (32%). 6% of government entities in charge of steering the youth strategy use the entity’s social media account for this purpose (OECD, 2020[3]).

In line with Jordan’s strategic efforts to foster open, transparent and accountable policy making through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), MoY could generate quick wins by publishing a description of the respective teams, tasks and contact information along with the results of the youth consultation exercise, among others.

The Ministry of Youth is designated to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the strategic objectives and projects of the NYS 2019-25, based on the periodic submission of progress reports by its implementing partners. The consolidated progress report shall be submitted by MoY to the Prime Minister for information and guidance (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). This is aligned with the practices in most OECD countries where the government entity in charge of coordinating the youth portfolio also leads on monitoring (82%) and evaluation (65%) (OECD, 2020[3]).

Each project in the NYS 2019-25 is linked to a strategic, sectorial and national objective and theme, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), mostly at the level of outputs (e.g. number of trainings), and implementation period. While links to outcome indicators and impact are less pronounced, the focus on measuring performance shows important progress compared to earlier drafts. The decentralised approach to monitor and evaluate performance can create a sense of shared ownership and accountability among implementation partners if quality standards are met and adequate M&E capacities exist in the respective entities.

Figure 2.4 illustrates the mechanisms put in place by OECD countries and selected non-member countries to monitor and evaluate National Youth Strategies. Around two-thirds of National Youth Strategies in OECD countries set measurable objectives and targets, prepare periodic progress reports (i.e. at least annually) and reports to feed information from the M&E exercise back into the policy making cycle. One in two identifies KPIs linked to objectives and targets and is embedded in a data collection system to track progress. On the other hand, one in four youth strategies is monitored and evaluated on an ad hoc basis and only 8% of OECD countries have put in place specific mechanisms to ensure the quality of evidence (e.g. quality control mechanism).

As of May 2021, the Institutional Performance and Development Unit in the MoY is in charge of monitoring and evaluating the strategy in Jordan. According to the Ministry of Youth, a team of managers was formed to lead the process and to submit regular reports to the Prime Minister’s Office. In line with OECD recommendations presented in a high-level roundtable meeting on 5 March 2020 in Amman8, an evaluation study was conducted and trainings were organised with the support of USAID to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation capacity.9 Investments in this area present an important step to increase accountability and could be accompanied by trainings in strategic planning and evidence-based policy making for designated employees in the future.

According to MoY, a detailed report was prepared on the implementation of programmes and activities by the Ministry of Youth for 2020, including quantitative indicators focused on the number of programmes delivered by Directorates and on the participation of male and female youth in the activities. The report lists ten findings and recommendations, most notably to link the activities in the Youth Directorates and youth centres to the strategic pillars of the NYS 2019-25 and to strengthen reporting practices, most notably through quarterly reports. It also underlines the importance to ensure gender parity in the access to the activities and balanced distribution across all governorates.10 However, also due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the implementing partners have submitted their reports to the Ministry of Youth as of May 202111. Despite the significant impact of the crisis, there is no information available if an update of the strategy and its activities and targets is planned.

The Ministry of Youth reports that a meeting with implementing partners was held in 2021 through the Steering Committee (headed by the Minister of Youth, gathering Secretary-Generals from line ministries and other implementing partners12) to reinforce mechanisms of follow-up, evaluation and impact measurements of the programmes and activities of the NYS 2019-25. Available information by the Ministry of Youth suggests that the Technical Committee, headed by MoY’s Secretary-General and gathering liaison officers from line ministries and other implementing partners, is still in the process of being created. Implementing partners were requested to prepare implementation plans covering a detailed description of programmes, activities, performance indicators and other stakeholders involved in their implementation. Upholding regular meetings of the Steering Committee/Technical Committee will play an important role in building cross-ministerial support and accountability for the implementation of the NYS 2019-25. Besides, the Ministry of Youth could consider undertaking a mid-term evaluation report to track progress and identify opportunities of addressing existing shortcomings (e.g. lack of implementation plans among its partners) and reinforcing ongoing efforts to strengthen internal capacities in this area (e.g. data collection system, skills and knowledge of its employees).

To further strengthen the M&E system in the youth sector in Jordan, these efforts could be complemented by a more prominent role being played by independent institutions (e.g. independent commissions, Supreme Audit Institutions, Ombudsperson), the legislature and young people (OECD, 2020[23]). Notably, the OECD report “Fit for all generations?” finds that youth’s active involvement in monitoring and evaluating the youth strategy can increase their satisfaction with public policy and service delivery. Box 2.3 illustrates different approaches adopted by OECD countries to involve independent institutions, parliament and young people in these efforts.

The cross-cutting nature of youth policy requires effective coordination mechanisms and mandates to ensure a coherent approach in the delivery of policies, programmes and services to youth. To create a sense of shared ownership and accountability, mandates and limits thereof need to be transparent, comprehensive and clearly identified for each. The NYS 2019-25 underlines the need to strengthen cross-sectoral coordination in the youth sector in Jordan. It identifies as challenges the duplication of efforts, a narrow focus on specific segments of youth and the lack of a holistic mapping of the situation of youth, programmes, institutions, mandates, funds and performance information (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]).

The NYS 2019-25 focuses on seven policy areas. It covers many of the areas that are prominently addressed by National Youth Strategies across OECD countries, too (see Figure Figure 2.5). Notably, all OECD countries with a NYS in place cover "youth participation in public life", 96% feature commitments on "employment/economy" and "education/training", 92% do so for "health" and 84% for the social inclusion of vulnerable groups, and sports/culture/leisure. In contrast, while the social inclusion of vulnerable groups (84%), youth rights (76%), transportation (52%) and mental health are also addressed prominently by most youth strategies across the OECD countries, they are not covered explicitly by the NYS 2019-25.

Among a total of 99 implementing partners, the NYS 2019-25 distinguishes between governmental (49), non-governmental (24) and international (26) stakeholders, covering (entities affiliated to) the Royal Court (e.g. Crown Prince Foundation), national parliament, Jordan’s justice and security apparatus, independent institutions, private sector, non-for-profit associations and entities focused on the civil service workforce, human rights, and training and employment. To ensure alignment across sectors, royal directives and government programmes in the area of education, scientific research, employment, poverty reduction and human resource development were reviewed (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]).

The diversity of thematic areas covered and implementing partners from various backgrounds identified can be a core strength of the NYS 2019-25. At the same time, a genuine cross-sectoral approach relies on strong institutional mechanisms to bring different partners together on a regular basis and ensure coherence in youth programming. Available information provided by the Ministry of Youth suggests that the Steering Committee has met once in 2021 whereas the Technical Committee has not been set up yet. The full operationalisation of these two bodies could be considered a priority by the Ministry of Youth in order to elaborate implementation plans, identify funding requirements and track progress achieved by the respective implementing partners.

Young people in Jordan constitute a highly heterogeneous group of people that are not only defined by their age but also other identity factors, such as gender, socio-economic background, disability and migrant status, and many more. Taking into account intersecting identity factors in policy and programme design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation is important to anticipate increased risks of vulnerability and marginalisation among the youth cohort.

The NYS 2019-25 acknowledges that youth should not be viewed as a single block. Instead, it calls for targeted programmes for each governorate and judiciary to meet the diverse priorities and concerns of young people (Ministry of Youth in Jordan, 2019[1]). It covers five projects that are targeted at young people with a disability, for instance to improve their integration into the educational process (Project 1.7) and activities in the youth centres (Project 5.3). Missing, on the other hand, are dedicated projects focused on youth from difficult socio-economic backgrounds and young people living in poverty. Migrant and refugee youth are also not explicitly covered by the strategies’ projects.

Furthermore, despite their increased risk of being unemployed and face barriers to participate in public life, the NYS 2019-25 does not cover specific objectives for young women. In turn, while girls outperform boys in school in Jordan, the NYS 2019-25 and its targets generally refer to all young people. A potential mid-term evaluation of the strategy could place a particular focus on its impact for vulnerable and marginalised youth groups to inform more targeted programming for these groups in the future.


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[5] OECD (2020), Youth and COVID-19: Response, Recovery and Resilience, https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/view/?ref=134_134356-ud5kox3g26&title=Youth-and-COVID-19-Response-Recovery-and-Resilience (accessed on 22 July 2020).

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[4] OECD (2018), Youth Engagement and Empowerment, https://www.oecd.org/mena/governance/youth-engagement-and-empowerment-report.pdf (accessed on 12 May 2021).

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← 1. As of May 2021, according to available information, only Jordan, Kuwait, the Palestinian Authority and United Arab Emirates (National Youth Agenda) have an operational National Youth Strategy or similar government plan in place. The youth strategy in Morocco is not yet adopted by Cabinet. At least six MENA countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Mauritania, Oman, Tunisia) are in the process of elaborating a youth strategy, whereas five countries do not have one (Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen). Qatar’s National Development Strategy (2018-2022) on “Cultural Enrichment and Sports Excellence” features a pillar on youth empowerment and sports excellence. The status of the Youth Policy in Lebanon, which was endorsed in 2012, is unclear.

← 2. Interviews conducted with employees of the Ministry of Youth in Jordan in 2019.

← 3. Presentation delivered by representatives from the Ministry of Youth on 5 September 2016 in Paris.

← 4. The Centre of Government (through the offices of Prime Ministers and Presidents) can generate political will and leadership to pursue a cross-sectorial approach across different ministries and different levels of government (OECD, 2014[25]). Findings from the 2019 OECD Youth Governance Surveys demonstrate the "coordination" was not perceived as a challenge by any of the countries in which youth affairs are chiefly being dealt with by the CoG.

← 5. The policy areas represent the dimensions of the OECD wellbeing framework (current wellbeing) (OECD, 2021[20]).

← 6. Information provided by the Ministry of Youth on 24 May 2021.

← 7. http://moy.gov.jo/?q=ar/node/23

← 8. The roundtable meeting was organised with the member of the Steering Committee of the project "Youth in Public Life in Jordan" to discuss the key findings from the OECD assessment. It gathered the Minister of Youth, representatives from seven lines ministries and 10 non-governmental stakeholders/international partners alongside the Ambassadors of Italy, Switzerland and UK to Jordan and Embassy representatives from Canada, European Commission, France, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and United States.

← 9. Information provided by the Ministry of Youth on 24 May 2021.

← 10. The report lists among its recommendation to link the activities of Youth Directorates at subnational level to the strategic pillars and objectives of the NYS 2019-25; to ensure an equal participation of young men and women in MoY’s activities; and to promote the distribution of activities across all governorates. It also calls for Youth Directorates to provide the ministry with quarterly reports on the implementation of activities based on output indicators such as the total number of beneficiaries and share of men/women. Similarly, it notes that Action Plans should be prepared with the implementing partners, who, in turn, should inform the Ministry about their activities to support the implementation of the NYS 2019-25. It also calls for regular meetings of the Steering Committee to discuss challenges and accomplishments.

← 11. Idem.

← 12. The Steering Committee is composed of the Secretary Generals of the Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ministry of Labour, as well as representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Media Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and the General Command of the Armed Forces.

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