Chapter 2. An inventory of common policies and programmes for youth

This section provides an inventory of youth policies and programmes frequently used around the world. Some work well in certain countries, but success factors are often context-specific. The following is a non-exhaustive list of policies and programmes in four sectors: employment, education and skills, health, and civic participation and empowerment. Distinction is made as to whether it is a second chance programme for already deprived youth or a preventive programme for youth at risk. While the evidence base may not be strong for all policies and programmes, many are well-established and promising. Impact evaluations have been carried out for many, and their results are mentioned when available.



A successful transition into the world of work can reduce youth poverty and economic exclusion. However, some youth either start working too early or are never able to enter the work force. Others may end up stuck in low-productivity, low-paid jobs leaving them no option but to leave their home or country. Facilitating the transition into the world of work through both demand and supply side interventions is becoming more and more central in the policy agenda of governments around the world. Active labour market policies (ALMPs) deal specifically with employment problems and include programmes such as subsidised credits, business start-up, training, wage subsidies and public work. Often, however, these programmes target people registered as unemployed, mostly in urban areas, and not necessarily youth, missing a majority of rural youth and those in informal employment. Youth-specific ALMPs can play an important role in filling those gaps, but impact tends to vary according to the nature of the programmes, design issues and country context.

Active labour market programmes

Employment services

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Employment services are common in many developed and developing countries. Their main purpose is to match job offers with job seekers. Services include job search and placement, labour intermediation services, labour information systems, career counselling and mentoring services for people with difficulties in finding employment. Employment services provide job seekers with information on job opportunities and prepare them for employment by increasing their employability and improving their employment prospects. Although employment services are generally designed to benefit the working population, they can include youth-specific programmes.

Do they work? Employment services are relatively inexpensive compared to other active labour market programmes and usually show positive results. An impact evaluation of 26 employment services programmes in both developed and developing countries concluded that 16 had positive employment effect, including 11 with positive earnings effects, mostly in developed and transition countries (Betcherman, Olivas and Dar, 2004). More evidence is needed from developing countries, where informal sectors are large and hiring takes place informally. Such programmes are also most effective under favourable economic conditions. Employment services should offer a comprehensive package that includes career guidance; education (formal and non-formal); skills training (soft and hard); information and communication technology (ICT) training; access to cultural, social and sport activities; and social services (child care, transport, etc.). A critical issue is to ensure that vulnerable youth are able to access these services.

Example: BW Jobs 4 Graduates, Botswana

BW Jobs 4 Graduates is a youth-led organisation registered under the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs of Botswana that offers various services to assist youth in finding employment opportunities. Job search and training services are offered free of charge to youth, while employers are charged a fee for advertising. A short message service (SMS) enables youth to receive vacancy announcements and interview reminders on their mobiles. BW Jobs 4 Graduates organises workshops and career fairs across the country to guide youth on what career paths to choose considering their profile and the current labour market situation. The seminars also reach out to potential financing agencies to support youth entrepreneurs. Young people can post their curriculum vitae, and employers can post job vacancies on a web platform. Beneficiaries are consulted on a monthly basis using qualitative and quantitative methods (document review, online or one-to-one interviews, and informal meetings).

Eligibility: Youth population

Similar initiatives: Nuorten Yhteiskuntatakuu (Youth Guarantee), Finland; The Werk (Work) platform, the Netherlands

Employment subsidies

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Employment subsidies aim to encourage new hires by reducing the cost to employers. These programmes seek to increase employment opportunities for eligible young people by temporarily subsidising employers’ wage costs. Subsidies are provided when hiring an entitled unemployed worker for a specified period of time (usually six months in transition countries to two years in developed countries). Employment subsidy schemes can consist of reductions in an employer’s social security contributions, a reduction in labour and wage costs or direct payment to the employee. Such programmes are particularly useful in helping to integrate low-skilled youth or long-term unemployed youth, since employers are often reluctant to take on young, inexperienced workers, particularly if minimum wages are set at a level above the expected productivity of such workers.

Do they work? Most evaluations conclude that the overall effect of wage subsidies on youth employment is positive (OECD, 2015; Bördos, Csillag and Scharle, 2015), although with notable drawbacks. First, targeting is one of the main issues, where programmes benefit those who would have found a job even without the subsidy. However, when targeted to youth with the greatest employment difficulties – the low-skilled, the low-educated and the long-term unemployed – the human capital gained on the job during longer subsidised periods can enable these youth to stay employed in unsubsidised jobs in the long run. Second, a heavy administrative burden deters participation by firms and should therefore be simplified. Finally, there is evidence that wage subsidies are most effective when combined with other employability programmes, such as job search services and training (van Reenen, 003; Katz, 1996). It is also important to keep in mind that youth wage subsidies alone will not create a large number of new jobs and have to be combined with labour market reforms.

Example: Youth Wage Subsidies and Tax Incentive Act, South Africa

Launched in 2010, the Youth Wage Subsidies programme in South Africa provided employment vouchers to unemployed young South Africans to reduce the wage costs for firms. Vouchers were handed out to randomly selected unemployed youth aged 20-24, entitling the holder to a subsidy with a total value of ZAR 5 000 (South African rand; approximately USD 650 [American dollars] in 2010), which could be claimed over a minimum of six months and until the total amount was used. The maximum monthly amount of the subsidy was half the wage or ZAR 833, and the subsidy was transferable between companies before exhaustion. After this pilot phase, in 2014, the government launched the Employment Tax Incentive Act, which introduced the wage subsidy nation-wide. This new scheme offers tax incentives for up to two years to employers who hire low- to mid-level wage earners (earning between ZAR 2 000 and ZAR 6 000) aged 18-29. The incentive amount differs based on the salary paid to each qualifying employee. An impact evaluation shows that young people who used the vouchers were significantly more likely to remain in employment one and two years after the voucher had been exhausted than those not benefiting from the vouchers (Levinsohn et al., 2014).

Eligibility: Low- and mid-level wage earners aged 18-29

Example: Employment Service Package Programme (ESPP) for Youth, South Korea

Since 2011, ESPP for Youth is a comprehensive employment service programme targeted at young jobseekers at risk of dropping out of the workforce. The programme provides 12 months support in three stages: career guidance, training or work experience, and job placement services. Modest financial incentives and income support are also provided. Each participant is expected to develop an Individual Action Plan (IAP) to receive one of the following services: 1) fully covered vocational training; 2) 3-5 months of paid work experience in a non-profit organisation or government-organisation or a SME with wage subsidized by the government; 3) support to start a business through training and loans. Some 15 000 youth received training in 2009-10 in response to the economic crisis and 63% found jobs after completing the programme. Public spending on active labour market policies for youth increased from 0.02% of GDP in 2002 to 0.09% in 2007. ESPP is one of the few programmes that focus on disadvantaged youth as opposed to university students and graduates. The programme is also extended to low income people and long term job seekers.

Eligibility: people with low income, youth who are less educated and long term job-seekers

Similar initiatives: Subsidio al Empleo Joven (Subsidies for youth employment), Chile; Stage d’initiation à la vie professionnelle (Initiation Internship to Professional Life), Tunisia

Sub-minimum wage for youth

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Sub-minimum wage for youth consists of employing young individuals at wages below the minimum wage. This scheme allows low-productive youth to enter the labour market, while at the same time the wage encourages them to complete their education. Sub-minimum wages for teenagers are a common strategy across OECD countries to counter the potentially negative impact of the minimum wage on youth employment. In OECD countries, the sub-minimum wage for youth is, on average, three-quarters of the adult minimum wage, varying between 25% and 50% depending on the young person’s years of experience. A sub-minimum wage makes particular sense in the case of apprentices, as young people’s productivity is lower at the beginning of an apprenticeship.

Do they work? When the minimum wage is set too high, it can have unemployment and informality effects on least-skilled workers, as well as on the very young. However, a sub-minimum wage scheme may institutionalise the incidence of low-paid jobs among youth and lead to segmented labour markets where youth find it difficult to move to higher-paid jobs. There is a need for a sound legislative framework for minimum wages. Labour inspectors should enforce labour law and act in case of systematic non-compliance. The impact of minimum wages on employment and working hours has to be evaluated on a regular basis through well-developed evaluation methods which meet high quality standards.

Example: Youth Minimum Wage, United States

The 1996 Amendments to the Fair Labour Standards Act allow employers to pay employees under age 20 a lower wage (not less than USD 4.25 per hour) during the first 90 consecutive calendar days (not work days) after they are first employed. The law contains protections for employees that prohibit employers from displacing any employee to hire someone at the youth minimum wage.

Eligibility: Employees under age 20

Similar initiatives: Youth Minimum Wage, New Zealand, Tunisia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg

Entrepreneurship programmes

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Entrepreneurship (or self-employment) programmes aim to equip people with the skills needed to establish and manage profitable businesses that can become permanent jobs. Support can be in the form of financial assistance (credits, allowances or grants) and/or other technical services, such as skills training, counselling, mentoring, business infrastructure, development of a business plan, etc. Training can be delivered in a variety of settings, including formal education, job training institutions, business incubation centres, small and medium-sized enterprise development agencies, and industry organisations. Training can be provided to all those interested or targeted specifically to youth or vulnerable groups, such as the newly or long-term unemployed (World Bank, 2008).

Do they work? Evidence on the effect of micro-enterprise programmes on employment is scarce. These programmes tend to be more successful when mentoring and business counselling are provided in addition to financial aid (Betcherman, Olivas and Dar, 2004). Partnerships with the business community, where business leaders serve as mentors as well as a support network, prove to be helpful. Special outreach and information campaigns may be required to reach vulnerable youth, who may be more reluctant to become self-employed due to feelings of social exclusion, lack of self-confidence, a low level of education, no access to financial resources, or limited social networks and support systems.

Example: Programa de Calificación de Jóvenes Creadores de Microempresas (Young Micro Entrepreneurs’ Qualification Programme), Peru

The Programa de Calificación de Jóvenes Creadores de Microempresas started in 1999 as an initiative of the Peruvian non-governmental organisation (NGO) Colectivo Integral de Desarrollo to counteract the lack of entrepreneurial skills among young people. A comprehensive package of training on developing business plans, individual counselling, internships, credit, and services after business creation were provided. The beneficiaries could obtain loans from an external financial institution. An evaluation of the programme indicated an increase of almost 40 percentage points in the probability of a business operating longer than a year and an increase in earnings of 40 percentage points compared to the control group (Puerto, 2007). An important secondary effect was the job creation. Beneficiaries employ 17.3% more workers than the control group.

Eligibility: Economically disadvantaged young people aged 15-25 who have entrepreneurial skills or own a small and/or informal business with less than a year of operation.

Similar initiatives: Giovani per la valorizzazione dei beni pubblici (Youth for the promotion of public Goods, 2013), Italy; aimed at promoting and developing public goods through youth social entrepreneurship in the regions of Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily.

Public works programmes

☐ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Public works programmes aim to reduce unemployment rates, especially among disadvantaged workers, by offering temporary employment, mainly in the public sector, at a prescribed wage. These programmes usually focus on the provision of temporary income support to long-term unemployed individuals. They are not youth-specific but can be designed to pay particular attention to young people. Public works programmes provide work experience and training, but they also play an important role as basic insurance (social protection) for the unemployed (OECD, 2015). Most often, public works programmes rely on self-selection as the primary targeting mechanism, the main selection criteria being the wage at which such work is rewarded.

Do they work? Evaluations of public works programmes show that they can provide short-term benefits in the form of an income safety net and can be useful in fighting poverty by offering temporary employment to the poorest families and workers. However, public works programmes have poor track records in developed and transition countries because of the negative stigma associated with involvement in public works (Betcherman, Olivas and Dar, 2004). These programmes also risk creating dependency among participants, hindering transition into unsubsidised employment. They have been found to be more effective when they involve the community, focus on work other than infrastructure building (e.g. social work) and offer participants skills training to help them find longer-term and sustainable employment (OECD, 2015). Recently, public work programmes have been moving in that direction.

Example: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), India

The MGNREGS provides at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every member of a rural household over age 18 who volunteers to do unskilled work. Every volunteer is entitled to the statutory minimum wage applicable in the state. Volunteers register at the gram panchayat (local village or small town government) and receive a job card, the basic legal document that enables a rural household to demand work. If employment within a 5 km radius is not provided within 15 days, additional wages of 10% must be paid, and applicants are entitled to a state unemployment allowance of not less than one-fourth of the minimum wage for the first 30 days and not less than one-half of the minimum wage for the remaining period of the financial year. Evidence shows that, on average, MGNREGS boosts the growth rate of real daily agricultural wages and constitutes a potentially important poverty reduction tool. Participation in the programme also facilitates credit acquisition, increases money income and consumption, and reduces consumption variability for vulnerable families. Even though MGNREGS’s implementation has been far from perfect, it has provided very substantial additional wage employment at a wage no lower than the prevailing wage to the rural poor.

Eligibility: Every adult over age 18

Similar initiatives: Productive Safety Net Programme, Ethiopia

Skills training programmes for youth

☐ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Job skills training can be very useful in improving the employability and productivity of young people experiencing difficulties in finding a job (under/unemployed and disadvantaged young workers). Such training is often directed at disadvantaged youth (poorest and least-qualified) and young workers who are already in the workforce but are under/unemployed. Some firms provide on-the-job training to new employees to provide them with the required skills and increase their productivity. Training programmes vary, from developing basic job readiness to more comprehensive packages that include technical and soft skills training in classrooms and on the job. The length of a skills training programme can vary from three months to two years.

Do they work? Impact evaluation was done for 19 skills training programmes for youth, including five in developing countries (Betcherman, Olivas and Dar, 2004). All five showed a positive impact on employability, with two having a positive impact on earnings. On-the-job training and close employer involvement tend to have a greater impact than classroom training. Regular consultations with employers is therefore key to optimising the impact of these programmes. Smaller firms may be reluctant to provide on-the-job training in transferable skills for fear that other firms will poach their trained workers. Encouraging small firms to form consortia to manage training and achieve economies of scale can be a solution, as seen in Mexico, Malaysia and Korea, for example. Finally, it is important to note that training programmes can be counter-productive when job opportunities for trained workers are scarce.

Example: Jóvenes Programme (Youth Programme), Latin America and the Caribbean

The Jóvenes Programme has been implemented in eight Latin American countries, adapted to the local context. The programme offers a comprehensive package, including classroom and on-the-job training, basic life skills training, job search assistance and counselling services. It involves the private sector in the design of the training content to ensure coherence between the skills taught and those needed in the labour market. In most countries, a letter of intention from the firm is required specifying the number of interns they will hire and an acknowledgement that the content of the training corresponds to their needs. Training and internships are organised and provided by public and private institutions, which are contracted through public bidding mechanisms.

Eligibility: Unemployed and economically disadvantaged young people (poorest and least-qualified) aged 16-29

Example: Youth employment and skills development project in Cote d’Ivoire (Projet Emploi Jeune et Développement des Compétences, PEJEDEC)

The PEJEDEC project (2012-15) aims to improve access to employment and to develop technical skills of young unemployed or underemployed Ivorians aged 18 to 30 years. The project is implemented in partnership with the private sector and aims to strengthen the capacity of national institutions and to restore trust among youth towards employment services provided by the State. The PEJEDEC reached its objectives by providing training, apprenticeships, internships and jobs to more than 27 500 young people nationwide. In particular, the component THIMO (work requiring highly intensive labour) had positive impact on beneficiaries by 1) improving the quality of jobs through increased wage employment and productivity; 2) improving income by 40%; and 3) doubling the savings rate and increasing monthly expenditure of close to one third of the beneficiaries. The impact was felt most among young women. Satisfaction level among beneficiaries was also high. For example, 77% of interns declared that the work matched their qualification and 92% of apprentices were satisfied with their mentors. After the PEJEDEC programme, 28% found part-time jobs, 17% permanent jobs and 16% were self-employed. The project has been extended until 2019 with World Bank funding. The objective is to provide access to employment to 31 500 new entrants and to contribute to reform vocational training and support to public institutions. In this second phase, the project puts emphasis on self-employment and income generating activities. (OECD Development Centre, 2017)

Passive labour market programmes

Unemployment benefits for first-time job seekers

☐ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Unemployment benefits provide unemployed people with a stipend while they search for a new job. To receive these benefits, they must register as being unemployed and prove that they are currently seeking work. However, young people who are first-time job seekers are generally not eligible for unemployment benefits, since eligibility is based on previous contributions. A special allowance designed to assist young first-time job seekers could be considered.

Do they work? Generous unemployment benefits (in terms of duration and income) provide security to eligible workers and an incentive for them to be declared and contribute towards such schemes. However, generous unemployment benefits are also associated with longer unemployment spells and higher aggregate unemployment. In developing countries, a large informal sector brings particular challenges due to the difficulty of monitoring employment in the informal sector; some recipients draw their maximum unemployment benefits while continuing to work informally.

Example: Youth Allowance, Australia

The objective of the Youth Allowance programme is to ensure that young people receive sufficient income support during their studies or job search. The programme encourages them to seek further education and training and to take up a range of activities that will promote their entry into employment. The allowance provides financial assistance to young people aged 16-21 who are looking for full-time work or undertaking approved activities. Payment rates are calculated using an income and assets test. The allowance also supports youth aged 18-24 who are studying full time; youth aged 16-24 who are undertaking a full-time apprenticeship; and youth aged 16-17 who have completed year 12 (or equivalent) or are undertaking full-time secondary studies away from home. Evaluation of the programme shows an increase in the participation rates of young beneficiaries in education and training, especially among those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The proportion of unemployed among recipients also dropped.

Eligibility: Full-time students, job seekers or full-time apprentices aged 16-24

Similar initiatives: Social assistance benefits for young job seekers, the Netherlands

Education and skills

Education and skills are crucial elements of youth well-being. Well-established and promising policies cover a broad range of interventions in the education sector. For instance, keeping (especially disadvantaged) children in the education system until at least secondary school is the most effective policy to prevent low literacy among young adults. Moreover, completing secondary school will help adolescents make informed decisions about life and career choices and build connections with adults who care and reward positive behaviours (Cunningham et al., 2008). Intervention through early child development (ECD) programmes is another area that has proven to have an impact on decreasing negative outcomes and risky behaviours in adolescence and young adulthood. Parenting skills training is a key component of ECD, especially for the very early years.

Early childhood development

Improving access to early child education (ECE)

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: ECE consists of activities that aim to improve children’s capacity to develop and learn prior to starting elementary school. ECE takes a holistic approach to the development of the child by establishing a solid foundation for lifelong learning and well-being. Evidence shows that children who participated in ECE later tend to perform better academically. ECE generally includes basic nutrition, health care, activities designed to stimulate children’s mental, verbal, physical and psychosocial skills, and parenting skills training. Policies need to invest extensively in infrastructure for child care centres and train teachers to specialise in early education, especially in the most socially disadvantaged schools.

Do they work? Programmes must be inclusive and reach out to marginalised families (in rural areas and those with poor socio-economic backgrounds). Partnership and co-operation across line ministries (health, education, social affairs, etc.) are critical to ensure a multidisciplinary approach. A regulatory mechanism must control for the quality of child care centres and the professionals and caregivers.

Example: Early Childhood Stimulation Programme, Jamaica

An impact evaluation of an early childhood programme that took place in 1986-87 in low-income neighbourhoods in Kingston, Jamaica found that the programme allowed stunted (low height for age) children to catch up with their non-stunted counterparts, increasing income and reducing inequality later in life (Gertler et al., 2013). The programme selected 127 stunted children aged 9-24 months and randomly divided them into four groups that received different stimulations: psychosocial stimulation, nutrition, both interventions or neither intervention (the comparison group). Eighty-four non-stunted children from the same neighbourhoods served as an additional comparison group. The interventions included weekly home visits by trained community health workers, who encouraged and instructed mothers on how to interact with their children. Twenty years after the programme, the evaluation interviewed 105 of the original participants to assess the long-term impact of the programme on education and labour market outcomes. Stunted children who received psychosocial stimulation earned, on average, 25% more income than stunted children who did not receive stimulation. Children who received stimulation achieved the same average level of earnings as the non-stunted comparison group, which suggests that stimulation enabled stunted children to catch up with their non-stunted peers. In addition, children who received stimulation achieved more schooling than their non-beneficiary counterparts and were three times as likely to have had some college-level education.

Eligibility: Stunted children aged 9-24 months

Similar initiatives: ECE for children under age 6, Mexico; Maagan Early Childhood Service, Israel

Parental education programmes

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Parental behaviour and the family environment can be either strong protective factors in the lives of young people or strong risk factors. Evidence shows that investing in family-based parenting training that promotes positive, healthy, protective parent-child interactions can reduce risky behaviours among young people. There are different components to effective parenting, including communication, structure (setting rules), autonomy support and development support. Programmes generally consist of home visitation for parents of infants aged 0-3 (training, counselling, monitoring) or family therapy (providing skills and resources needed to raise teenagers). Parenting training can be a separate intervention or a component of a comprehensive prevention programme (which can include a health component).

Do they work? Staff must be highly trained (psychologists, counsellors, medical staff, etc.) in both cognitive and non-cognitive skills (communication, organisation, problem-solving, cognitive skills) to build positive relationships with families and deliver the curriculum. Parental training should start as early as possible, even before children are born. Community acceptance is essential for a programme to be effective. Therefore, establishing partnerships with existing community services (health services, child care, etc.) and programmes (immunisation programmes, ECE, life skills programmes, etc.) is important. Regular home visits will help build trust and constructive relationships between counsellors and parents, including fathers/men to the extent possible.

Example: Mother Child Education Programme (MOCEP), Turkey

MOCEP for young children began in Turkey in 1993. MOCEP is a home-based programme designed to support mothers of children ages 5 and 6 from low socio-economic backgrounds and without access to pre-school. The programme targets both mother and child. It aims to equip mothers with the knowledge and tools necessary to foster the development of their children and enhance their school readiness, while empowering the women within families by supporting them in their parenting role.

Eligibility: Children aged 5-6 and their mothers

Improving access to education

Conditional cash transfers (CCT) for education

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Providing financial incentives to attend school have proven very effective for reducing school drop-out rates and offsetting competing demands of work and child care outside of school. Several middle-income countries, mostly in Latin America, have increased school enrolment and health outcomes through CCT programmes that give cash grants to parents or young people themselves on the condition that they attend school on a regular basis. The cash is granted on a per-student basis and is conditional on the young person enrolling and attending school. Grants generally cover direct costs (such as school fees, supplies and transportation costs) and/or the opportunity costs imposed on families when they lose income as a result of sending their children to school. CCT programmes can also include a health component (see Health below). Other incentives include school vouchers, loans, grants, individual learning accounts, school supplies, etc.

Do they work? CCTs have been widely evaluated with the general conclusion that they do lead to greater school attendance and poverty reduction. A meta-analysis of 42 evaluations of CCTs’ impact on education outcomes shows that these programmes have greater effects on secondary enrolment than primary (Saavedra and Garcia, 2012). Programmes with more generous transfers have a larger effect on primary and secondary enrolment. Programmes with conditions of benefits based on achievement have greater impact on enrolment and attendance (although some evaluations conclude that unconditional cash transfers may generate improvements in health and education without the high costs of monitoring recipient compliance). CCT programmes should target the most vulnerable and poorest households. A weak or non-existent targeting strategy leads to leakages to the non-poor, driving down the impact. The amount of the transfer needs to be sufficient to provide a fair incentive for the target group to fulfil the condition. The amount should reflect the age of the beneficiaries to account for the increasing opportunity costs to the families. CCT programmes work best when complemented by other services, such as better teaching resources for schools and health centres.

Example: Bolsa Família, Brazil

Bolsa Família is a cash transfer programme which aims to reduce short-term and long-term poverty by conditioning the cash transfers on participation in education and health programmes. Bolsa Família targets poor families on condition that children are enrolled in school with minimum attendance of 85% for children aged 6-15 and 75% for children aged 16-17. In addition, parents must follow the prescribed course of vaccination for children aged 0-6. Pregnant women should participate in prenatal and postnatal check-ups, and women aged 14-44 who are breastfeeding should participate in health and nutrition classes offered by local health teams. The programme has four components: a basic benefit paid to all families considered to be in extreme poverty, a variable benefit paid according to the number of dependents, a variable benefit for adolescents and a benefit to combat extreme poverty in childhood (this benefit is paid to families with children aged 0-15, and its value depends on both family income and the total value of Bolsa Família benefits already being received).

Eligibility: Children and adolescents aged 0-17, poor families, women aged 14-44 who are breastfeeding

Removing indirect barriers to access primary and secondary education

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Schools must be accessible to all children. Barriers to access school include direct financial costs (e.g. school fees and supplies, transport costs, lunches, uniforms) and physical constraints (e.g. distance to school, ill health and work commitments at home or paid). Quality of education is sometimes so low that the parents do not see the value of schooling, making this perhaps one of the greatest barriers to school enrolment and attendance. Investing in the quality of education through better teaching methods and good incentives for qualified teachers, especially in remote areas, is fundamental to encourage universal enrolment. Other policy levers include increasing the school day and shortening the school week to reduce overhead and transport costs or adjusting schooling to agricultural seasonality. Increasing the period of compulsory education by lowering the age of entry into primary education or making upper secondary education compulsory can also increase enrolment.

Do they work? Sound data collection should help to identify the needs at the local level and to tailor education programmes to the local context. Additional funding will be needed to increase investment in the quality of education and school infrastructure.

Example: Todos a Aprende (Learning for All), Colombia

The Todos a Aprende programme began in 2012 and adopts a comprehensive approach towards school change. It offers support to low-performing schools on various fronts. In order to guarantee that all students can go to and stay in school, it offers transportation and meals to disadvantaged students. The programme also provides new pedagogical material for teachers and teacher training with assistance tutors to develop classroom management and pedagogical skills. Support in developing school improvement plans is also part of the programme.

Programmes to attend post-compulsory education

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: There are different ways to reduce the cost of post-compulsory education and improve access to tertiary education, including government-sponsored student loans with low or no interest rates, means-tested grants and scholarships and the provision of free or subsidised social services (food, transport, housing).

Do they work? Post-compulsory education programmes should provide access to the support system to students in the public and private sectors alike. Special consideration should be given to young people in remote areas (rural youth tend to have less access to these programmes). Targeted and rationalised scholarships and financial aids are needed so as not to benefit already privileged students.

Example: National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), South Africa

The NSFAS was established in 1996 to ensure that all academically able students without financial resources can attend higher education. The NSFAS provides income-contingent loans and bursaries to higher education students. While most of the scheme’s funding comes from the government, other sources include loan recovery, higher education institutions, the private sector and foreign donors. The loans are administered by the institutions themselves and are awarded to students based on level of need, i.e. based on annual gross family income, family size, distance from an institution, etc. Loans cover tuition costs and can also cover living costs and traveling expenses in cases of extreme need. Repayment of loans starts at 3-8% of the salary of an individual in permanent, full-time employment with a minimum annual salary at the threshold level of income (ZAR 26 300 in 2006). Apart from NSFAS loans, bursaries and loans are also available from private companies and commercial banks. State departments and provincial legislatures also provide tertiary funding in the form of bursaries. In most cases, these do not need to be repaid, but recipients may be required to work for the granting department or province for a certain period after graduation. Despite the large number of students who drop out of tertiary education, these schemes are considered a successful model of financial aid, as evidenced by students who receive such loans being more likely to graduate than those who do not.

Eligibility: Academically able students who qualify by a means test for financial aid

Similar initiatives: Fondo per lo studio (Study Fund) initiative, Italy

Youth inclusion programmes

Encouraging schools to take on disadvantaged children

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: A number of countries have experimented with policies to encourage school admission of low-performing or disadvantaged students. Additional funding and other investments are provided, based on the assumption that low-performing students bring additional costs and require more resources. Some countries give schools or local administrators autonomy to decide how to use the additional resources. Other programmes allocate specific goods and/or personnel to disadvantaged schools, such as specialised teachers or other professional and administrative staff; instructional materials (e.g. computers, laboratories, textbooks); or improvements to school infrastructure. Some countries offer different kinds of resources and support, depending on the level and the nature of socio-economic disadvantage. To equalise access to secondary or post-compulsory education, some governments also introduce affirmative action laws, which imposes quotas on educational institutions for the recruitment of students from poor backgrounds.

Do they work? Bigger schools with more capacities seem more attuned to these programmes and better able to identify their needs and design improvement plans. They are thus more likely to benefit from such policies compared to smaller and more marginalised schools, which are actually more in need of additional educational supports. Sound monitoring processes are needed to avoid diversion of resources, along with data collection on the child and youth population and on schools across the territory to better target children in need. To avoid the problem of only targeting children and young people coming from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, other factors to determine disadvantage (cultural, for instance). Small and rural schools in particular should be included in these programmes and data collection, as there is often a lack of data about these schools.

Example: Ley de Subvención Preferencia (Preferential Subsidy Programme), Chile

The Ley de Subvención Preferencia allocates extra funding for each disadvantaged student enrolled in a school in return for a commitment to raise the student’s test scores. While schools can decide how to spend this extra money, they must adhere to certain regulations and accountability requirements. They must, for example, design and implement a student improvement plan, which is evaluated within five years. The programme is being progressively implemented; however, it is still difficult to assess its effectiveness or isolate its impact on variation in school performance.

Eligibility: Disadvantaged school-aged children

Reducing school drop-out by targeting students most at risk

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: To address the problem of school drop-out, many countries have established mechanisms to identify individuals at risk for dropping out and provide them with individual learning support. Tailored follow-up and support programmes for struggling students and those at risk for dropping out are vital to reduce grade repetition and drop-out rates. Tutoring, extra teaching hours and support programmes for the transition between different levels of education have proven effective to improve school completion and student performance (Ruthbah, 2014; Savates, 2010). Information systems can be developed to follow students as they are promoted and transition to another level, transfer to another school, drop out or graduate. In some countries, teachers are trained to diagnose students with learning difficulties and to individualise their instruction based on the learning needs of their students to support their continued progress in schooling.

Do they work? Preventing drop-out requires staff adequately trained to identify, support and monitor students at risk and sufficient resources to allow teachers to customise teaching methods (classroom capacity, time management, adequate teaching material, etc.). Good internet coverage in the country is necessary to computerize the tracking system.

Example: “Campaign to reduce dropouts” programme, the Netherlands

The “Campaign to reduce dropouts” includes various measures to prevent pupils from leaving school early in the Netherlands. Since the qualification obligation that was introduced in 2007, young people must remain in education until the age of 18 (previously 16) until they have achieved at least upper secondary, pre-university or level-2 secondary vocational diploma. The Personal Identification Number (PGN) issued to every child over age 3.5 is an important source of information for research and monitoring in terms of education. Commonly referred to as the education number, it is used at once for tax and social insurance. Schools share the PGN and other data on pupils as the child progresses through education. In addition, all secondary schools pupils are allocated an education number and registered in the Basic Records Database for Education (BRON): a young person who is no longer registered in BRON is classified as an early school leaver. Statistics on early school leaving rates are available at national, regional, municipal and school level, and can be linked to socioeconomic data by region, town/city, and neighbourhood. Furthermore, since 2009, all schools must register school absenteeism via the Digital Absence Portal. Along with these monitoring measures, an action plan for career orientation and guidance has been drawn up to guide young people into the appropriate programme or occupation through information, mentoring, coaching and personal guidance. Finally, the provision of socio-educational services has become a basic facility in all schools to identify personal and social problems among pupils at an early stage, strongly connected to early school leaving. Since 2002, the programme has led to a decrease from 71,000 early school leavers in 2001-2002 to 27,950 in 2012-2013. Joint action by professionals in each region – schools, municipalities, youth care workers, business and industry – has also been essential in tackling the problem of early school leaving.

Eligibility: Every child over age 3.5

Promoting access to schools for girls

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Diverse policies can be implemented to ensure girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in education of good quality. Building separate bathrooms for girls or adjusting school times to accommodate their household responsibilities have proven very effective. Some governments also offer incentives (cash or in-kind) to incite families to send their girls to school. Providing scholarships can also be efficient in encouraging girls to attend secondary or higher education. Training teachers on gender-related issues and removing gender stereotypes from teaching materials are also essential to overcome female discrimination at school.

Do they work? To overcome unequal access to education, governments should provide adequate resources for the implementation of activities, address potential resistance from local populations and adapt programmes to local contexts – that is, make programmes sensitive to the values and social norms of the society. Overcoming discriminatory social norms through involvement of the local community is key to success.

Example: Promotion of Girls’ Education Project (PROGE), Malawi

PROGE aims to improve retention and transition to the upper secondary level for marginalised girls by increasing their access to education and engaging communities in Malawi. PROGE uses a three-pronged approach in support of girls’ education, aimed at students, teachers and other community members. PROGE seeks to empower girls by increasing participation in life skills education, providing incentives for academic competition, and sensitising, motivating and mobilising community structures (teachers, village heads, school management committees/parent-teacher associations, mothers’ groups, initiation counsellors) to eliminate gender-based discrimination at school. To these ends, the project uses a combination of strategies, such as social and community mobilisation, scholarships, and mentoring and advocacy.

Eligibility: Marginalised girls in upper secondary education

Similar initiative: Female Secondary School Assistance, Bangladesh

School-to-work transition

Vocational education and training

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Developing work-based learning and involving employers in education systems across different levels and types of education is a crucial way to strengthen the links between the education system and the labour market. Work-based learning can be integrated into vocational education and training (VET) and university programmes. Co-operation with the private sector is essential, since it can offer guidance on current and future labour market needs and provide training directly in the workplace. VET programmes at both upper secondary and post-secondary levels offer opportunities for young people to develop skills needed in the labour market and opportunities for employers to engage in the education system. Governments should ensure the quality of these programmes and ensure that they develop cognitive, social and emotional skills in addition to technical skills. Apprenticeship combines long-term on-the-job training and work experience with institution-based training and is a valuable way to learn and to get a foothold in the labour market. Internships also provide young people with practical and relevant work experience and should be promoted (for instance, by making internships compulsory to validate some university qualifications). Some countries have also established different mechanisms to encourage the participation of employers and students in work-based training, including tax breaks, direct subsidies, vouchers, student grants and levies, etc.

Do they work? These programmes rely on partnerships with the private sector to identify the skills that are needed in the labour market. Programmes should address a general lack of adequate employer involvement and insufficient connection between the training and the demands of the labour market. In most developing countries where the majority of youth work in the informal sector, efforts should be made to identify master craftsmen and small businesses and to validate skills gained through them. Programmes often lack co-ordination among the different public and private agencies responsible for delivering VET. Work-based learning provides young people with occupation-specific skills, which may limit their future mobility and adaptability. Therefore, vocational training should combine practical, occupation-specific skills and broader transferable skills. VET interventions should be regularly monitored and evaluated for their impact.

Example: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Ghana

In Ghana, the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) was established in 2006 to co-ordinate and oversee all aspects of TVET in the country. Upon completing lower secondary school, young people can choose to continue their studies at the upper secondary level by attending senior high school, secondary technical school or a technical institute. Informal training is also provided, mostly through apprenticeships with master craftsmen, while non-formal training is provided mainly by community organisations and NGOs. Ghana has pursued efforts to establish a TVET national qualification framework with the objective of improving the career progression of TVET graduates. COTVET is also responsible for implementing the National Apprenticeship Programme (NAP), a one-year training programme which pairs young people who have limited education with master trainers operating small businesses. The programme is mostly targeted at young people who are unable to continue their education beyond lower secondary. As with the traditional apprenticeship model, COTVET has committed to paying master trainers and to providing a toolkit to each participating apprentice. NAP incorporates an innovative performance-pay scheme for training providers that ties compensation to the skill level of apprentices and their outcomes. NAP will offer students the opportunity to carry out apprenticeships in the informal sector. The programme is ongoing, and evaluation results are forthcoming.

Eligibility: Young people with low educational attainment

Example: Technical and Vocational Skills Training for Orphans, Vulnerable and Affected youth (TVST-OVAY)

In 2009, the Government of Malawi launched a vocational training program to increase employability and self-employment prospects of vulnerable youth. The Technical Education and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA) implemented the TVST-OVAY in 18 districts. The programme focused on apprenticeship training and TEVETA identified and trained a pool of master artisans in different trades (e.g. auto, clothing, construction, metalwork). In parallel, the districts and traditional authorities identified 1 900 OVAYS to receive the training. Each master artisan trained between 1 and 8 youth at their workshops for approximately three months. An impact evaluation showed that TVST-OVAY proved successful in developing both hard and soft skills of the trainees, such as their ability to calculate profits and their knowledge on how to start a business. In particular, trainees benefited from improved subjective well-being, such as self-esteem and happiness. However, the positive effect on skill development did not translate into significant gains in total earning or spending. The time, and sometimes personal savings, spent on training decreased the trainees’ opportunity for paid work and self-employment. A longer tracking period would be needed to make a fair evaluation.

Similar initiatives: Working agreements between employers and educational institutions, the Netherlands

Providing career guidance at school

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: High-quality and lifelong career guidance can help youth hone their efforts and raise their employability, and youth should be able to access these services at any point in their development. The high level of non-completion of some TVET and tertiary programmes reflects failures in the guidance process from compulsory to higher education (OECD, 2010). Governments should improve career guidance and counselling by ensuring that these services are provided at all education levels and institutions. Career guidance should provide young individuals and families with a full picture of the career pathways in the education system and of the market returns of these various paths, including those for vocational education. In schools, good-quality guidance can increase student engagement and success and support the transition from school to further education or work, as well as the acquisition of career management skills. Counselling should be based on an assessment of the individual’s skills and the labour market demands. Consistency and continuity in guidance services requires strong co-operation among institutions. It is also crucial to involve employers, for instance through career fairs and employer workshops. Some countries have developed indicators of labour market outcomes of institution and programme alumni towards improving the relevance of career guidance services.

Do they work? There is a need for the progressive professionalisation of career guidance (for professional counsellors, but also social workers, psychologists, etc.), alongside appropriate training for career guidance teachers in schools in the dual role of teacher and counsellor. Governments should conduct national information campaign to raise awareness about different opportunities and make information available to parents, families and communities. The private sector should be involved in the design of career guidance at school, including partnerships with various stakeholders (businesses, NGOs, chambers of commerce, youth offices, etc.). In-school and out-of-school career guidance should be provided to reach more young people.

Example: Career Education Promotion, Japan

In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) work together to promote career education. MEXT promoted the establishment of Regional Career Education Support Councils that support career education within schools by organising visiting lectures by companies and making arrangements with those providing workplace experience and internships for the students. MEXT also implements a project to assign internship coordinators to senior high schools, and coordinates the “Assist Caravan to Promote Career Education” Programme for teachers of senior high schools in order to improve their understanding of career education. MEXT distributes brochures, videos and materials for career education training at elementary, junior high and senior high school. For its part, MHLW conducts the “Career Search Program” by dispatching instructors (people who work at companies) to high schools in order to help students better understand the realities of various occupations in the labour market. It also conducts the “Experts on Career Education Development” Programme, which offers short courses to train career education personnel. Finally, METI is sponsoring the “Career Education Award,” which honours companies and organisations that perform visionary activities in support of education.

Eligibility: High school students

Similar initiative: Career Guidance at school, Botswana; Key Information Sets (KIS), United Kingdom

Second chance at education

Second chance programmes for school-age children

☐ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Second chance education programmes have the potential to bring school-age children back to school, as well as to equip youth with the basic literacy and numeracy skills required for employment. Second chance interventions aim to strengthen the employment opportunities for unemployed, low-educated youth and to compensate for an absence of basic education and training, including personal and social skills. They enable individuals to complete general primary or secondary education, either by substituting for formal education or by allowing them to return to the formal education system. The main types of second chance programmes are i) accelerated learning programmes; ii) non-formal education programmes; and iii) education equivalency programmes. Accelerated learning programmes give children and youth an opportunity to complete the curriculum faster than in traditional education and help youth to re-enter the formal primary or secondary school system. Non-formal education programmes provide youth with instruction equivalent to formal education and focus on basic skills, such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy and problem-solving skills. They can be delivered in formal school facilities, learning centres, community schools, etc. Equivalency programmes provide young people with corresponding degrees, signalling that the recipient has demonstrated the skills corresponding to the level for which the degree was offered.

Do they work? Programmes could provide an income or restructure the duration and sequence of services to mitigate earnings losses for participants. Partnerships with various stakeholders (NGOs, communities, private sector, schools, etc.) help to ensure that graduates will be able to pursue their education or find a job. Strong links with the job market through greater employer involvement is key to the success of these programmes at the higher education levels and increases the probability that employers will hire participants after completion. Graduates of equivalency programmes should be accredited with similar qualifications to graduates of formal education programmes, sending a signal about the quality of the programme; that is, the programme should be perceived to be of equivalent quality and qualification by participants, teachers, the community and employers. Instructors should be trained in innovative teaching methods adapted to the needs of the target group while including formal teaching methods, allowing participants to re-enter formal education successfully. Programme’s effectiveness can be enhanced by collecting data on the needs of the target groups and the factors behind dropping out of the school system. Systematic evidence on the effectiveness of second chance programmes is limited. Much more data and evaluations are needed to understand how these programmes can cost effectively build skills and increase youth productivity.

Example: Jóvenes en Red (Youth Network Program), Uruguay

Since 2015, the National Youth Institute (Instituto Nacional de la Juventud) has implemented the Youth Network Programme (Jóvenes en Red), which aims at supporting young people living under conditions of social vulnerability and exclusion in Uruguay. The programme promotes the professional and social integration of vulnerable teenagers and youths aged 14-24 who are disconnected from the educational system and the labour market. The 18 months programme targets youths who have not completed basic education and are not studying, as well as young people who are unemployed, informal workers, unpaid family workers or living with an income below the poverty line. Interdisciplinary technical teams are deployed in the targeted regions (Montevideo, Canelones, San José, Artigas, Cerro Largo, Tacuarembó, Rivera, Salto and Paysandú) to develop individualised social and educational projects, which aim at providing the participants with the necessary skills to enter the labour market or return to school. They organise cultural, sport and artistic group activities, conduct life skills and literacy courses, and provide pedagogical support, job placement services and career guidance to the participants. Participants are also sensitized on workers rights, discriminations in the labour market, corporate culture, job search etc. Specialised teams take in charge youths with problems of substance abuses, mental health or violence. The technical teams work in close cooperation with the families, the communities and the local institutions (local businesses, educational centres, youth organisations etc.) The methodology applied is based on the work of proximity, from a territorial, local and decentralized approach. Since its inception, more than 5500 young people have participated in the programme. According to the first results, more than 70% of the young participants returned to school or find a job.

Similar initiative: Initiative pour le Développement des Jeunes (Out-of-School Youth Livelihood Initiative) (IDEJEN), Haiti

Qualification frameworks and certification schemes

☐ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Transitioning between education levels and the labour market can be facilitated by well-functioning qualification frameworks. Many countries have implemented national qualification frameworks to promote lifelong learning, help employers better understand qualifications and make explicit how qualifications relate to each other. Qualification frameworks increase transparency across education systems and make the value of different qualifications more clear to students, employers and other stakeholders. In addition, countries are increasingly implementing innovative learning recognition approaches within their national qualification frameworks. Recognition of prior learning programmes involves a process of certifying pre-existing skills and knowledge to make skills visible to other actors, such as employers and education and training institutions. Recognition of prior learning can also reduce the time needed to obtain a certain qualification or diploma and thus the cost of foregone earnings.

Do they work? Qualification frameworks require a high level of collaboration and co-ordination between institutions and employers. They should not be set up as screening and sorting systems, which can have a long-term negative impact on some young individuals. They should maintain high quality standards while avoiding too great a focus on high-stakes examinations, which might favour the wealthy and create incentives for cheating.

Example: National Qualification Framework, South Africa

South Africa implemented a national qualification framework in 1998. It was designed as an integrated system with a transformational agenda to promote lifelong learning for all South Africans in a non-racial and non-sexist democracy. The framework intends to create a single integrated national framework for learning achievements; facilitate access to mobility and progression within education, training and career paths; enhance the quality of education and training; and accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination. The government conducted recent reforms in the framework to simplify it and limit the proliferation of different qualifications. The new qualification framework distinguishes ten levels of learning achievement and identifies three sub-frameworks (General and Further Education and Training Qualifications; Higher Education Qualifications; and Trades and Occupations Qualifications). These reforms aim to improve school to work transitions and to support more effective career guidance and recognition of prior learning. Another objective of the reform is to enhance co-ordination among the different institutions and stakeholders involved in the educational system. Policies have been developed and assessments completed on the recognition of prior learning, the registration of qualifications, the recognition of professional bodies, credit accumulation and transfer. A national career advice service project has been developed to help users navigate the education and training system, while a repository for information on learner achievements (National Learners’ Records Database) provides insights into the status of the system.

Eligibility: Children and young people, public agencies responsible for education and training, education and training staff

Quality of education

Evaluating and monitoring the school system

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: It is essential to evaluate and monitor education programmes to gain a better understanding of their scope and improve their impacts. Evaluation and assessment policies can contribute to raising the quality of institutions by providing detailed information and identifying areas for improvement. The challenge is to design a comprehensive approach to education system evaluation which encompasses its different components in a coherent way through system evaluation, internal and external school evaluation, as well as student assessments. Internal school evaluation (self-evaluation) led by a school team and co-ordinated by a school leader can be complemented with an external evaluation team, which points out areas of improvement for the school. Some countries have established agencies dedicated to evaluation and assessment of the education system. Using student assessments (with national standards and standardised assessment at different grade levels) is also essential for both accountability and improvement of the school system. In addition, involving families and communities in school management and monitoring (through school councils, for instance) provides greater accountability of the school towards parents with regards to student and teacher performance.

Do they work? Difficulties persist in monitoring and assessing some dimensions of school performance (non-cognitive and social skills, emotional growth, etc.). Improvement efforts should focus on ensuring the capacity of education stakeholders to develop and use evaluations.

Example: School evaluation system, Mexico

In 2009, Mexico introduced a national system of upper secondary education, with a common curricular framework, monitoring system, academic guidance and other educational services (including scholarships to improve access). The National Institute for Educational Assessment and Evaluation was granted autonomy in 2013 to develop a strategic vision of assessment and evaluation in collaboration with the Secretariat of Public Education. As an independent body, it defines the process for teacher and student evaluation. In this context, the “Programa Sectorial de Educación 2013-2018» (Sectoral Education Programme 2015-2018) aims to ensure the quality of learning in basic education and to strengthen the quality and access to upper secondary education, higher education and training for work. The challenge is to ensure greater coverage, as well as inclusion and educational equity among all groups of the population to achieve a more inclusive society.

Eligibility: School system

Improving the quality of the teaching staff

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: The quality of an education system cannot be separated from the quality of its teachers and principals. In recruiting and training teachers, governments should make sure to i) set clear expectations for teachers; ii) introduce stringent and transparent recruitment procedures; iii) make the profession attractive to good candidates; iv) prepare teachers with useful and updated training (including pre-service training); v) match teacher knowledge and skills with student needs; vi) support teachers with good school leaders and useful teacher professional development; vii) monitor teacher performance and their students’ achievement; viii) promote collaborative work cultures and peer learning; and ix) offer incentives to motivate them. It is essential to design incentives for teachers (salary, working conditions, professional development opportunities, career path available, flexibility, etc.) to attract and retain talented individuals. Governments should also establish quality standards and sound monitoring mechanisms to evaluate teacher performance (probationary period, formative appraisal, performance management, teacher certification, etc.). Finally, ensuring equitable teacher deployment is key to improve quality of education in remote schools. Pre-service programmes to prepare teachers to work in under-resourced and isolated posts or posting teachers to schools in their home region may increase their success and ultimate likelihood to stay in that school. Incentive policies such as additional salaries, free housing and free transport should encourage experienced and strong teachers to take up undesirable rural posts (Mulkeen, 2007).

Do they work? Policy makers should be mindful of unintended negative consequences of incentive-based reforms: teachers neglecting certain students, cutting corners, artificially raising student scores, etc. An equitable teacher deployment system should distribute experienced and strong teachers across all schools (disadvantaged schools, rural areas, etc.) to ensure that all students have access to good teachers. To ensure an adequate number of highly effective teachers, data should be collected about the estimated demand, considering the school-age population, gross enrolment rate and average student-teacher ratio.

Example: Ensuring high-quality teaching, Singapore

Singapore has actively pursued policies to maintain a high-quality teaching force. Prospective teachers are carefully selected to be trained, and they receive a monthly stipend that is competitive with the monthly salary for new graduates in other fields in exchange for a commitment to teaching for at least three years. Initial training is based on close connections with schools and has a strong emphasis on pedagogical content. Salaries are regularly adjusted for new teachers to ensure that teaching is as attractive as other occupations for new graduates. Teachers are entitled to 100 hours of professional development per year in order to keep up with global changes and to enable constant improvement in their teaching practice. An annual performance appraisal against 16 competencies is conducted by a panel. Teachers who do outstanding work receive a bonus from the school’s bonus pool.

Eligibility: Teaching staff (teachers, school leaders)


Youth-friendly health policies and services are believed to play an important role in strengthening a health system’s responsiveness to young people’s needs. It is now well-established that to support youth health outcomes effectively, particularly those of the most disadvantaged, health programmes should begin with maternal health and nutrition at early age. During adolescence and early adulthood, youth-friendly health services become crucial in addressing reproductive health and psychological needs through non-judgemental counselling and practical services, such as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), access to contraceptives and HIV/AIDS prevention information. When advice on nutrition and mental health problems are included in the services, it can ensure a balanced life and improve the overall well-being of young people. Early pregnancies can have devastating consequences, especially on girls. A UNFPA report on adolescent pregnancies states that pregnancies before age 18 violates the rights of girls, with life-threatening consequences in terms of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and causes high development costs for communities, particularly in perpetuating the cycle of poverty (Loaiza and Liang, 2013).

Access to health services

Providing access to youth-friendly health services

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Many young people tend not to use existing reproductive health services because of operational barriers (inconvenient hours, lack of transportation, high costs of services), a lack of information, an unwelcoming and judgemental attitude by service providers, fears about confidentiality, or cultural and gender barriers. Health services need to be specifically tailored to provide a comfortable and appropriate setting for young people and services that meet their specific needs. The basic components of a youth-friendly reproductive health service include specially trained providers, privacy, confidentiality and accessibility (geographic, financial and schedule). Youth-friendly services can be provided in health facilities (hospitals, clinics, health centres), through private providers, in social or community settings, in entertainment and recreational venues, at the workplace or in schools. A typical youth-friendly package of services might include information and counselling on sexuality, safe sex and reproductive health; provision of contraceptives, emergency contraception for women and advice on other protective methods; STI diagnosis and management; HIV counselling (and referral for testing and care); pregnancy testing and prenatal and postnatal care; counselling on sexual violence and abuse (and referral for any needed services); and post-abortion care, counselling and contraception.

Do they work? Youth-friendly health care services need to be integrated, allowing youth to obtain different services in a single location (“one-stop-shop”). Service providers should be specially trained to work with young people, qualified to listen to them, treat them with respect, allow sufficient time for interaction and honour their privacy and confidentiality. There is a notable lack of sufficient attention and services for important causes of adolescent mortality and morbidity: mental health disorders, nutrition issues, substance use, intentional and unintentional injuries and chronic illness, for example. Public education campaigns are needed to increase the use and support for youth-friendly services among young people, families and communities. Information can be provided to parents and other adults through the education sector and the media to change attitudes and norms towards sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues. To reach as many youth as possible, youth-friendly services within public institutions and NGOs should be institutionalised. Existing legal, regulatory and socio-cultural constraints must be taken into account in developing programmes around a sensitive topic and offering the most relevant services. Involving young people in programme design and incorporating their feedback helps to ensure the relevance of these programmes.

Example: Youth-friendly health services (YFHS), Moldova

YFHS began in 2002 with three pilot centres. They were progressively integrated into the state health care system as part of primary health care centres. Today, 38 primary health care centres provide YFHS and reach approximately 70 000 young people annually. They are supervised by the Ministry of Health and co-ordinated by the NGO Neovita (Kempers, 2014). Most are financed by the national health insurance; the rest is financed by external donors. YFHC provide integrated services to adolescents, including SRH services, general health services, psychological counselling, information, education and communication activities, referrals and outreach work. Programmes are conducted by health professionals but also include some elements of peer-to-peer learning. The clinics guarantee privacy and confidentiality and provide non-judgemental care in a comforting environment.

Eligibility: All young people aged 10-24, young couples with and without children, vulnerable adolescents aged 10-19, and their families and communities

Similar initiatives: Profamilia, Colombia; Youth for Youth centres, Burkina Faso; Youth-friendly centres, South Africa

Free health services for youth

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Out-of-pocket payments have a deterrent effect on access to services for any population group and may have a disproportionate effect on adolescents due to their limited access to money and their dependence on family resources. It is therefore essential to design and implement adolescent financial protection measures (e.g. waivers, vouchers, exemptions from or reduced co-payments) so that health services are free at the point of use or otherwise affordable for adolescents. For instance, the provision of vouchers to young people for health services offers opportunities to reach vulnerable groups by reducing the cost barrier of paying out of pocket for health services.

Do they work? Institutions should strive to provide different services within one medical consultation (including counselling, provision of contraception, referrals) and develop youth-friendly information campaigns to build awareness and encourage youth to use the services. It is also important to include private sector providers in the programme, since they may be an appropriate and acceptable delivery channel for a broad range of youth-friendly health services once financial barriers are removed. Digital vouchers can be an effective way to implement a youth health care cost-reduction programme, but extending the outreach to young people without mobile devices is essential (e.g. including a paper voucher component). The primary concern should be ensuring that basic health services are accessible and affordable to all youth.

Example: Link Up voucher programme, Uganda

Marie Stopes International Uganda (MSIU) established a voucher scheme for young people in 11 districts in Uganda to improve access to high-quality health and reproductive health services that are sensitive to young people’s needs. The voucher package consisted of family planning, STI management, HIV counselling and testing, and the provision of male and female condoms. Each voucher granted two visits for HIV testing, three visits for family planning and three visits for STI management. All services were provided free of charge. The programme was communicated with youth-tailored messaging under the campaign slogan “Stay on top of your game, be safe”. MSIU trained 80 service providers (clinical officers and nurses) from 37 BlueStar (NGO) facilities and three Marie Stopes Uganda clinics on the competencies and attitudes needed to work with vulnerable groups of young people. A total of 70 community-based distributors have been trained on SRH and HIV and are now able to reach out to peers, distribute vouchers and follow up with clients. A total of 35 000 vouchers were distributed during the year-long project (2014-15). Of those receiving services, 27 002 were aged 10-24.

Eligibility: Young people, with a focus on vulnerable groups (men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs, transgender, people, and young women and men living with HIV)

Similar initiatives: Youth voucher programme, Madagascar; Health insurance for students, Viet Nam

Early marriage and early pregnancy care

Increasing the minimum age for marriage

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Laws should ensure that the minimum age for marriage corresponds with an objective standard of physical, psychological and emotional maturity. Child marriage threatens girls’ lives and health, and it limits their future prospects. Among other things, girls who marry early are at greater risk for domestic violence, more likely to soon bear additional and greater numbers of children, less able to negotiate safe sex, face a greater risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and STIs and are less likely to obtain an education. Girls who get married early often become pregnant while still adolescents, increasing the risk for complications in pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, the risks of maternal and infant mortality are greater when girls give birth as adolescents. Laws that strictly established 18 as the minimum age of marriage are associated with dramatic reductions in adolescent fertility and can have a significant impact on adolescent girls’ health (Kim, 2013).

Do they work? Cultural values, local context, etc. complicate the determination of an “optimal age” for marriage. Minimum-age-of-marriage laws that allow exceptions (such as marriage with parental consent) have a low impact on early pregnancy (Kim, 2013). Of chief importance is addressing resistance to marriage age legislation among the population; it is important both to raise awareness and to adapt programmes to local contexts. Enforcement measures should be considered carefully, especially in remote and rural areas with strongly embedded traditions.

Example: Financial incentive schemes to postpone marriage, India

The governments of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Haryana in India have established an incentive programme for low-income families to increase a girl’s age at marriage indirectly. In Haryana, a small sum of money (Rs 2 500) is put away for five year by the Government into a savings account for a girl at her birth. At age 18, if she is still unmarried, she is eligible to collect the accumulated sum (Rs 96 000). This economic incentive to postpone girls’ marriage is complemented by support for girls’ education. The intention is to encourage parents to postpone marriage until daughters reach and can use the grant for their dowry (Sekher, 2010).

Eligibility: Girls aged 0-18

Preventing adolescent pregnancy

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Preventing adolescent pregnancy and unsafe abortion requires comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and SRH care, such as promoting the use of contraception, making contraceptive methods accessible (including emergency contraception) and retaining girls in schools. The Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) both make commitments to eliminate harmful traditional practices such as child marriage and child pregnancy. The 1994 Programme of Action issued by ICPD urges governments to enforce “…laws to ensure that marriage is entered into only with the free and full consent of the intended spouses…(and) laws concerning the minimum legal age of consent and the minimum age at marriage….”. It calls for action “to encourage children, adolescents and youth, particularly young women, to continue their education in order to equip them for a better life, to increase their human potential, to help prevent early marriages and high-risk child-bearing and to reduce the associated mortality and morbidity”.

Do they work? It is important to adopt a comprehensive approach to early pregnancy prevention, which includes life skills and SRH education at school, social marketing, youth-friendly health services and centres and, importantly, involving young men in the programmes. Existing legal, regulatory (for instance, regarding abortion) and strong socio-cultural norms must also be taken into account in developing programmes around a sensitive topic.

Example: The Kishori Abhijan programme, Bangladesh

In 2001, UNICEF initiated a pilot project to improve the lives of adolescent girls in Bangladesh by transforming the social environment in which they live. The Kishori Abhijan project aims to inform girls, boys and their parents about gender roles, discrimination, health, hygiene, nutrition and their legal rights. It also offers adolescent girls the opportunity to acquire life, livelihood and leadership skills. The primary topics concentrate on child marriage, dowry, child rights, reproductive health, HIV and STI prevention, family planning, birth and marriage registration and domestic violence awareness. According to a 2008 UNICEF evaluation of child protection interventions, Kishori Abhijan was the third most highly rated intervention for evidence quality, receiving excellent scores on all evaluative measures.

Eligibility: Married and single boys and girls aged 13-22

Sexual and reproductive healthcare

Providing reproductive health services to young mothers

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Evidence shows that adolescents are disadvantaged in their use of skilled prenatal, childbirth and postnatal care, as well as in their use of abortion and post-abortion care. Childbirth at an early age is associated with greater health risks for the mother. WHO estimates (2014) that about 16 million girls aged 15-19 and some 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls globally. Effective interventions during pregnancy and breastfeeding therefore have strong potential to affect positively the health of both mother and child throughout their lives. Prenatal care services should focus on diagnosing and treating anaemia in pregnant adolescents, improving their nutritional status, preventing and treating STIs, treating for malaria, detecting gender-based violence, preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and reducing smoking and drug abuse. During the post-partum period, health services should pay special attention to providing support for breastfeeding, delaying or preventing repeat pregnancy and visiting young mothers at home.

Do they work? More evidence about the costs, cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit of adolescent pregnancy care programmes is needed, but programmes (see example below) that have been evaluated show positive effects on girls’ autonomy, reproductive health knowledge and practice, and couple relations. Girls who benefited from such programmes are also more likely to have a greater say in household decisions (Santhya, 2007). Again, it is important to include young men/husbands in the programmes to ensure their effectiveness. It is important also that health workers are competent in meeting the special information and psychosocial needs of adolescent mothers. Youth-friendly reproductive health services should be responsive to young mothers’ needs without prejudice.

Example: First-Time Parents Project, India

The First-Time Parents Project by Population Council was conducted in two settings in rural India: Vadodara Block in Gujarat and Diamond Harbour Block in West Bengal. The project aimed to increase young women’s social support networks and use of reproductive health care services, including pregnancy care, in rural areas. It was based on the hypothesis that the periods following marriage and surrounding the first birth offer a unique opportunity to improve the prospects of young mothers and foster more equitable relations with their counterparts. The project consisted of three components: providing SRH education and information; modifying existing pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum services; and establishing groups of married girls to reduce their social isolation and increase their agency. The project provided young women and their husbands with information through home visits, educational materials, counselling in clinics, group discussions and community activities. The project staff also worked with government and private sector health service providers to educate them about the special needs of young and first-time parents. Findings in both sites showed that the intervention had a significant, positive net effect on most indicators reflecting married young women’s autonomy, social support networks, partner communication and knowledge of SRH (Santhya, 2007).

Eligibility: Young women who were newly married, pregnant or postpartum for the first time and their husbands, senior family members and health care providers

Establishing HIV/STIs treatment programmes

☐ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: HIV infections can be prevented and treated. However, most HIV-infected youth do not receive adequate health care even when it is available. Barriers to health care for HIV-infected youth include lack of financial resources and/or insurance, mistrust of health care professionals, difficulty negotiating complex health care systems, a shortage of providers with expertise in both HIV and adolescent medicine, and concerns about confidentiality. Fear, denial and cultural perspectives may also contribute to a young person’s reluctance to go for care. Accessible, non-discriminatory and confidential HIV treatment, care and support services are essential, while at the same time targeting prevention programmes to reach vulnerable groups of young people. Voluntary and counselled HIV testing needs to be intensified.

Do they work? Governments should support NGOs and civil society organisations to reach populations at risk. Civil society organisations and people living with HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable groups should be involved in developing and implementing HIV policies. Multidisciplinary case management and care optimises efficiency for both programme provider and young clients. Programmes should combine primary care with HIV-specific care, mental health services, sexual health care and secondary prevention in “one-stop-shop” settings with providers who are familiar with youth needs. Trained and youth-competent care providers are a major factor in drawing youth into or deterring them from using the health care system. An integrated approach to youth HIV/AIDS takes into account other risks. Investment in comprehensive health care for drug users should also help to decrease the number of new HIV infections among drug users (with access to sterile needles, addiction-treatment, etc.).

Example: Leveraging the Expansion of HIV/AIDS, Gender, and Reproductive Health Projects, Ethiopia

NGO Pathfinder’s projects aim to prevent the spread of the virus and to care for those who are infected or affected. With funding from the Swedish International Development Agency, projects aim to contain the spread of STIs and HIV/AIDS, reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), improve the quality of life of PLWHA and their families, and increases access to quality reproductive health services through diversified service delivery approaches and geographical expansion of programmes. Interventions include peer education to in- and out-of-school youth, skills training and income generation activities, and the establishment and strengthening of youth centres and youth-friendly reproductive health services. The programme also contributes to building the local NGOs and youth-serving organisations’ capacity to strengthen community-based HIV/AIDS activities and enable them to manage integrated, quality HIV/AIDS, family planning, and family health programmes and services toward sustainable strategies and accountability.

Eligibility: PLWHA, with a focus on young people

Healthy lifestyle and behavioural change

Promoting road safety

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Road traffic crashes are one of the leading causes of death among young people. Sustained efforts to implement appropriate interventions targeted specifically at young people can greatly reduce deaths and injuries among this population group. The major risk factors can be addressed through legislation and enforcement and by educating young people about road traffic risks. Providing road safety education (RSE) at school and in community settings, promoting knowledge and understanding of traffic rules, improving driving skills through training and experience, and changing attitudes towards safe and socially responsible behaviour are key pillars of traffic safety. Apart from RSE, different measures have significantly reduced deaths and injuries, including lowering speed limits, cracking down on drinking and driving, promoting and enforcing the use of seat belts and motorcycle helmets, as well as improving road infrastructure. Implementing a gradual driver licensing for novice drivers and introducing zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or other psychoactive substances are efficient ways to reduce traffic deaths related to alcohol use among young road users.

Do they work? Local government agencies, NGOs, local community organisations, representatives of international organisations, private companies and other stakeholders should all be involved in designing and implementing the strategy to reduce occurrences. Trained peer educators have been found to be the most appropriate providers of road safety programmes in schools (e.g. Responsible Young Driver initiative, role models). Limiting information to road safety does not address the many reasons young people engage in risky behaviours; programmes need to recognise the underlying motivations and expected outcomes among young people of the risky behaviour and address these risk factors (peer pressure, alcohol consumption, etc.). Furthermore, one-off educational programmes have little impact.

Example: Helmet Law, Cambodia

The helmet law passed in 2009 increased helmet use in Phnom Penh from 8% to over 50% within one month of the law being enforced. The law is the result of coordinated efforts between the government and civil society, including Handicap International Belgium (HIB), to develop and implement a National Helmet Action Plan. The plan follows a systems approach with multiple elements focusing on: public information and education; enforcement including training of police; development of tougher helmet standards; subsidised helmets programme for police and school children. This example shows that a combination of legislation and increased public education and enforcement can have a significant positive affect on changing behaviour.

Eligibility: Whole population, secondary school students

Similar initiatives: Road safety legislation, Kazakhstan

Life skills programmes to prevent unhealthy and risky behaviours

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: According to the World Health Organization definition, life skills are behaviours that enable individuals to adapt to and deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. They are a group of cognitive, social, interpersonal and emotional coping skills, which include the ability to make decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate, be assertive, negotiate, cope with emotions and stress, build healthy relationships, feel empathy and be self-aware. Possessing life skills may be critical to a young person’s ability to practice healthy behaviours. Teaching methods should be youth-centred, gender-sensitive, interactive and participatory. The most common teaching methods include working in groups, brainstorming, role-playing, story-telling, debating, and participating in discussions and audio-visual activities. Life skills-based health education can be applied to almost any health-related issue or content area. UNICEF promotes the life skills approach to reduce health-related problems for youth around alcohol, tobacco and other drug use; nutrition; pregnancy prevention; and HIV/AIDS and other STIs prevention. For instance, critical thinking, self-awareness and decision-making skills are important for analysing and resisting peer and media influences to use tobacco or for countering social pressure to adopt unhealthy eating practices or drink alcohol. Interpersonal communication skills, negotiation skills and self-confidence are needed to negotiate alternatives to risky sexual behaviour.

Do they work? Life skills programming works best when introduced as early as possible before the onset of risk behaviours, ideally in early adolescence. Again, it is effective to include young people in designing and implementing the programme and its activities and to consult with parents and the wider community to gain support for the programme. Teachers must be adequately trained on using life skills approaches. There will be potential resistance from teachers who may regard the programme as non-academic and therefore not worth learning or teaching. Teaching materials must be appropriate to the age, gender, sexual experience and culture of the young people and their communities. Concepts should progress from simple to complex, with later lessons reinforcing and building on earlier learning. Curriculum should focus on a small number of specific behavioural goals and give a clear health content message by continually reinforcing a positive and health-promoting stance on these behaviours. Funding, learning resources and infrastructure for teacher training are often insufficient, and inadequate time is made available for classes. To implement these programmes, it is important to gain support from various stakeholders: use advocacy to influence leaders, mobilise communities from the earliest stages of programme development and secure the commitment of policy makers. Evidence shows that life skills education programmes that include SRH information have contributed to youth delaying sexual intercourse, increasing condom use and decreasing the number of sexual partners (UNICEF, 2002). Life skills can also help to prevent mental health problems, such as conduct disorders, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

Example: Life Skills Project, Armenia

In 1998, the Ministry of Education and Science, in collaboration with UNICEF and the International Institute of Global Education at the University of Toronto, introduced Life Skills into the core curriculum of the Armenian education system. The project was piloted in the first and fifth grades in 16 schools in 1999/2000. In 2000/01, the project was expanded to 100 schools and to the second and sixth grades. A Canadian team trained a core team of curriculum developers and teacher trainers to write a curriculum tailored for Armenian students and train teachers in implementation. The life skills taught included decision making, problem solving, creative thinking, critical thinking, effective communication, interpersonal relationship skills, self-awareness, empathy and coping with stress and emotions. Evidence shows the positive impact of the programme (Ashton, 2001). Students were enthusiastic about the curriculum and wanted it expanded to more of their classes. Teachers and principals reported positive changes in the students participating in the curriculum, such as development of self-assertion, self-expression, self-esteem and self-awareness. The programme also tended to improve teacher-pupil relations and enhanced parent interest in the school.

Eligibility: First, second, fifth and sixth grade students

Similar initiatives: The Better Life Options Programme, India; National Life Skills Education Programme, Nepal; Life Skills Programme, South Africa; Integral Education, Colombia

Promoting health education and health care in schools

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Schools are strategic places for delivering risk prevention programmes as they can reach many young people at once. In addition to health education, schools are conducive environments for teaching young people about good hygiene habits and healthy eating and lifestyle. Governments should promote safe and clean school environments by providing clean water, nutrition and sanitation (bathrooms for girls and for boys), discouraging school violence and bullying, and forbidding tobacco and drug use. Schools can provide young people with easy and free access to health services, including SRH or psychological support. In addition, educational professionals can identify students at risk or who have vision, hearing, learning, substance abuse issues or HIV/AIDS and organise related screening campaigns. Screening services should ideally be accompanied by a referral system to address the problem. Schools can also encourage physical activity by implementing physical education programmes and provide spaces for active playing, such as schoolyards and sport halls. Schools should provide healthy meals and limit access to junk food and beverages on school premises.

Do they work? Bridging the gap between policy formulation and implementation requires the allocation of sufficient resources and co-ordination. Co-ordination among different government ministries (especially between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education) is essential. Lack of reference materials on thematic areas may hamper implementation of the policy. These include materials on water, sanitation and hygiene concerning bathroom and water facility construction standards; hygiene education and promotion; agriculture and nutrition; life skills; and disease control. Policy should recognise the importance of engaging the broad youth environment (communities and families) to strengthen the impact of programmes implemented at school.

Example: Therapeutic After-School programmes, Israel

Therapeutic After-School programmes are extra-curricular courses, which are offered after class in Israel. The programmes provide scholastic courses and support for homework preparation, social activities, as well as individual and group therapy to elementary school pupils. These programmes aim to strengthen social skills of children, providing them with emotional support and reinforcing parent-child relationships. A total of 216 children aged 6-11 benefited from the therapeutic after-school programmes in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. According to the first results, there was a moderate decline in the number of problems faced by the children who participated in the programmes. There was a decline in the incidence of risky situations, such as low scholastic achievements, exposure to dangerous behaviours in the family, illegal or non-normative behaviours and physical abuse. However, there was no significant change in the number of children with more complex problems or with less complex problems. The choice of services in the localities indicated a preference for providing care through universal services (schools, preschools, mother and child healthcare centres), which allows providing assistance to families and children in a non-stigmatising way.

Similar initiatives: The Shokuiku initiative (promoting food education), Japan; National School Health Policy and Guidelines, Kenya

Providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education (CSE)

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: CSE enables young people to make informed decisions about their sexuality and health. The most effective sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education programmes are those that help to reduce misinformation and provide correct information, clarify values and reinforce positive attitudes, and strengthen decision-making and communication skills. Programmes should include life skills training (decision making, assertiveness, communication, negotiation, acceptance, tolerance, etc.) and impart information on relationships; values and attitudes towards sexuality, culture, society, gender and human rights; human development (physiology, puberty, body image, privacy and bodily integrity); and sexual behaviour and SRH (especially the prevention of pregnancy and STIs and HIV). CSE curricula that emphasise critical thinking about gender and power are far more effective at reducing rates of STIs and unintended early pregnancy than conventional “gender-blind” programmes. CSE can be implemented both in schools and through community-based training and outreach. At school, CSE may be mandatory or delivered through optional courses, although a large number of students will not receive its benefits where sexuality education is non-compulsory, extra-curricular or only partially compulsory. Governments should also implement strategies to reach out-of-schools youth and other groups of marginalised young people (including girls and young women), who are most in need of information and education but are sometimes not enrolled in any educational programmes. Youth networks, youth organisations, community organisations, clubs and trained peer educators may all be enlisted to expand the reach of SRH education to young people out of school.

Do they work? Ideally, knowledge and skills imparted by school-based prevention programmes are linked to the rest of the curriculum. Programmes should balance teaching of knowledge, skills and facts with life skills and peer pressure resistance skills. There is often a lack of teachers who possess the necessary knowledge and training to teach appropriate and correct information on SRH to young people. Teachers must be adequately trained and supported in examining their own values and biases in order to foster a non-judgmental and trusting environment in schools. Programmes that teach only abstinence are not effective. Indeed, CSE should be delivered together with efforts to expand access to a full range of youth-friendly SRH services (UNFPA, 2015). Still, sound pedagogical research, including theories and standards backed by evidence, is needed to inform the development of curricula. It is also important to consult and involve young people from the outset of educational initiatives – including engaging adolescent boys and young men in education on sexual and reproductive health, rights and gender equality – and to build support for programmes among parents, teachers and community leaders. Capacity-building in bodies responsible for educational curricula (government, teachers, youth networks and youth-led organisations) is essential to their sustainability.

Example: Committees for the Prevention of Pregnancies and STIs among Adolescents (COPEITSA), Honduras

COPEITSA is supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and aims to provide young people with CSE and information on gender equality and empowerment using a peer-to-peer approach. Representatives from local health centres visit classrooms to recruit young volunteers for the programme, and each peer educator receives training on SRH through the COPEITSA programme. The programme receives broad support among civil society organisations and government representatives. Since its launch in 2013, the programme has trained over 1 500 adolescents as peer educators, and they have in turn reached more young people by presenting information at fairs, movie theatres, concerts and on the Internet; by handing out flyers from parade floats; even by performing educational puppet shows.

Eligibility: Adolescents aged 12-18

Similar initiatives: Adolescence: Time of Choices, Chile; Teens on Smart Sex, Thailand; Planeando tu Vida, Mexico; CSE, Zambia

CCT programmes to promote children’s and young mothers’ health

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Health-related CCT subsidises the poor on condition of specific behaviours. Health and schooling conditions for children are often combined (see above the CCT programmes for education). They are usually targeted to preschool children and pregnant and lactating women and granted on condition that household members make regular health visits, including up-to-date vaccinations and pregnancy care (perinatal and nutrition). CCTs can be an effective means of increasing the use of health services and improving health and nutrition outcomes for children and pregnant women. Several evaluations also show that CCTs increase prenatal visits, skilled attendance at birth, delivery at a health facility, tetanus toxoid vaccination for mothers and reduced incidence of low birth weight (Glassman, Duran, and Koblinsky, 2013).

Do they work? Targeted CCT programmes lead to greater school attendance and poverty reduction (Fiszbein, 2009). CCT programmes require sound targeting mechanisms to reach the most disadvantaged children and families. Weak or non-existent targeting strategy leads to leakages to the non-poor, driving down programme impact. However, targeting and monitoring can increase the cost per beneficiary. Conditions and compliance monitoring should be simple and easily verifiable, although it is still unclear how important conditionality is to changing behaviour. Some evaluations find that unconditional cash transfers may generate improvements in health and education without the high costs of monitoring compliance (making them less costly to administer than CCTs). The quality and availability of relevant health services must be assured since conditionality can only be effective when quality health services are available to use. Supply-side interventions to deal with problems such as low service quality, staff shortage or medical supply bottlenecks are first prerequisites for a successful CCT. The amount of the transfer also needs to be sufficient to provide a fair incentive for the target group to fulfil the conditions. In terms of evaluation, there are gaps in knowledge and a need to improve evaluation and reporting of standardised outcomes across CCT studies. Cost data also need to be better reported, and programme interventions should be compared in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Example: Prospera (formerly Oportunidades), Mexico

Prospera helps poor families in rural and urban communities improve the education, health and nutrition of their children. Originally a rural programme, known as Oportunidades, it has slowly been expanded to poor urban areas. Currently 6.8 million families are beneficiaries of this program. Cash transfers to households are linked to regular school attendance and health clinic visits, and payments are given to the female head of family. The three chief components of programme are education, health and nutrition. Under the education component, grants are provided for primary to high school and increase as children progress to higher grades. Beginning at the secondary level, grants are slightly higher for girls than for boys. The health component provides basic health care for all members of the family through public health institutions, with a particular emphasis on preventive health care. The nutrition component includes a fixed monthly transfer of approximately MXN 155 (or USD 15.50) for improved food consumption, as well as nutritional supplements for children aged 4-24 months, malnourished children aged 2-4 and pregnant and lactating women. Various studies (González de la Rocha, 2008) demonstrate the positive impact of the programme on school enrolment rates and education levels, significant improvements in nutritional status and better preventive health. Data suggest that the programme has had a large impact on increasing child growth and in reducing child stunting. Several studies show positive effects on the number of prenatal procedures recommended by the Ministry of Health and provided during antenatal visits.

Eligibility: Poor families in urban and rural areas

Discouraging risky health behaviours through social marketing

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Social marketing campaigns aim to change negative behaviours into positive ones by influencing the knowledge and attitudes of young people. Social marketing and mass media techniques can reach a large number of young people, including at-risk youth who are typically not enrolled in school. Young people are particularly susceptible to media messages, which therefore have a role to play in providing young people with the necessary knowledge and skills to protect themselves and prevent them from engaging in risky health behaviours. Interventions that deliver positive social marketing messages through radio, television, print and other media have been shown to be effective in reducing sexually risky behaviour (through HIV prevention and positive reproductive health messages), reducing tobacco consumption and reducing violent behaviour, particularly against women (e.g. mass media can also be used to conduct anti-violence campaigns). Condom social marketing (CSM) programmes have been successful in increasing both condom use and knowledge of safe sex practices among their beneficiaries. CSM consists in the distribution of free condoms complemented with safe sex information campaigns in the mass media and strategic targeting to particularly vulnerable parts of the youth population. CSM can play a positive role in overcoming social and cultural resistance to the effective prevention of STDs and unplanned pregnancies.

Do they work? To create long-lasting behavioural change, social marketing and mass media campaigns need to be accompanied by community or group-based interventions, individual youth interventions and access to youth-friendly products and services (the same reasoning applies to anti-violence campaigns, which should be co-ordinated with other prevention efforts and social policies). Young people should be included in the design, production and dissemination of the messages. In addition, it is essential to incorporate a wide range of stakeholders, including mass media, NGOs, community-based organisations, industry, health and education practitioners, peer educators, and universities and research institutes to help with programme development and implementation. Ensuring adequate monitoring and evaluation is also crucial. Campaigns should take into account the ability of the target group to absorb the messages. Targeting young adolescents about risky behaviour may have more lasting impact since they receive information earlier in life. Media messages must be related to real issues in families, schools and young people’s lives and should be embedded in existing cultural norms and expectations. Social marketing strategies should be adapted to areas with little internet or social media access (e.g. distribute items, stickers, etc.).

Example: Con S de Sexo radio programme, Paraguay

Con S de Sexo is a radio programme hosted by adolescent peer educators and aimed at adolescents aged 15-19 in urban and peri-urban Asunción. It was developed and executed by Arte y Parte, an adolescent reproductive health communications initiative implemented to address the high risk for unwanted pregnancy and STIs, including HIV/AIDS, among adolescents. Con S de Sexo has two main goals: to increase knowledge of SRH among adolescents to promote responsible sexual behaviour, and to improve communication and negotiation skills related to SRH issues among adolescents. The programme is based on three main interventions: using peer educators, developing adolescent-specific media product and promoting increased media attention to adolescent SRH issues. Adolescents are involved at all stages of Con S de Sexo, from design to implementation. All peer educators go through 80 hours of training in SRH, communication and negotiation, journalism, drama and sexual abuse. Con S de Sexo became a mainstay of the reproductive health landscape, airing two live shows a week in Greater Asunción. Each episode of the radio show is interspersed with 10-second info spots containing facts, news and interesting items on sex and reproductive health. In addition to the radio programme, Arte y Parte develops several mass media products to disseminate SRH-related information to youth, including booklets, videos, school workshops, street theatre aimed at out-of-school youth, news flashes, articles and interviews, etc. Evaluations show that the radio programme reaches approximately 20% of the youth living in the three cities targeted; one evaluation suggests that the project increased knowledge of selected SRH issues among adolescents, as well as the proportion of adolescents who subscribe to safe sex practices, and most likely contributed to the significant increase in the proportion of adolescents reporting having used a condom in their first sexual encounter.

Eligibility: Young people aged 15-19

Similar initiatives: Horizon Jeunes, Cameroun; LoveLife, South Africa; Twende na Wakati, Tanzania

Reducing youth’s access to alcohol and tobacco

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Policies that limit young people’s access to alcohol and tobacco can have a strong positive impact on their health behaviour and outcomes. Various government measures can reduce the number of adolescents who start using these substances. First, increasing alcohol and tobacco taxes is a straightforward way to lower consumption of both products among young people, who typically have very little money to spend and are very sensitive to changes in price. Second, policy makers can intervene by enforcing sales restrictions, including controls on hours of operation, density and location of sales outlets. Prohibitions on using alcohol or tobacco at community and sporting events or in public areas (including schools) can also be introduced. In addition, governments can impose a minimum age for purchasing and consuming tobacco and alcohol, although difficult to monitor and enforce. Limiting the licensing to large stores and avoiding licensing small shops can be a partial solution to the problem of enforcement. Finally, governments can ban the marketing, promotion and sponsorship of such products.

Do they work? To have the maximum possible impact on youth alcohol and tobacco consumption, a joint tax increases and sales restrictions can be effective. Alcohol taxes must be kept as simple as possible to make them efficient and effective to administer. Sales restriction laws must be supported by strong enforcement and credible sanctions on consumers, sellers and retail establishments. A percentage of increased tax revenues can be used to train and increase the capacity of enforcement institutions. Alcohol and tobacco prevention strategies can be combined with school and community-based alcohol and tobacco use prevention education.

Example: California Tobacco Control Program, United States

In 1988, California voters approved a ballot initiative that increased state cigarette taxes by USD 0.25 per pack, with 20% of the new revenues (over USD 100 million per year) earmarked for health education against tobacco use. California launched its new Tobacco Control Programme in the spring of 1990. Despite increased levels of tobacco marketing and promotion, a major cigarette price cut in 1993, tobacco company interference with the programme and periodic cuts in funding, California’s comprehensive approach has reduced youth and adult smoking significantly. Adult smoking declined by 49% from 1988 to 2011. Smoking prevalence among high school students decreased by more than 50%, from 21.6% to 10.5%.

Target: Whole population

Similar initiative: Restrictions on the purchase of alcohol and tobacco products to minors under age 20, Japan

Civic participation and empowerment

Several countries around the world have developed policies and programmes to support active youth citizenship and encourage youth participation in political and social life. Fostering cultural and creative activities is getting increasing attention among policy makers as a means to respond to youth needs and aspirations and to boost job creation. Investments in violence prevention programmes and juvenile justice services are also gaining ground in an increasing number of countries. The rationale is that citizenship cannot be fully exercised in areas where crime rates are high and social capital is low. Therefore, policies related to safety and juvenile justice systems have been included in this section.

Civic and political participation


☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Elections are one of the main ‘transmission belts’ for citizen political participation. Since those elected decide on policies to address the needs of their voters, a lack of young voter turnout may mean that their concerns have little or no representation. Governments can promote youth voting and make sure their voices are heard through the ballot box. The minimum voting age strongly determines youth engagement in the electoral process. Although voting age varies by country and the global verdict on the optimal minimum age for voting has not been reached, proponents of lowering voting age find that giving an opportunity to exercise their civic rights early in life creates further interest in civic, social and political engagement among young people. Voting rights should be accompanied with comprehensive and understandable information about upcoming elections through the media and online resources, easily accessible by youth. Governments may outsource such services to non-governmental actors but should make sure the data and information necessary to build such services are available. In addition, governments should support policies to increase access to voting for young people. Simplifying registration and voting system may increase young people’s electoral turnout.

Do they work? There is no consensus on an optimal minimum age for voting, but what is evident is that those eligible to vote should have better and easier access to information, registration and voting. A known hurdle to greater youth participation is unequal access to online services and the consequent exclusion of some vulnerable youth groups (the so-called “digital divide”).

Example: Online voter registration system, California, United States

California introduced an online registration system in 2012 before the general election to increase the number of voters and to encourage young people in particular to vote. In one month, more than half of the 1.2 million voters who registered did so through the new online system. Online registration was particularly effective at pulling young people into the state’s voting pool. Citizens under age 25 represented 30% of all online registrants, contributing to an 8% increase in voter registration in this age group (aged 18-25). According to a study by the University of California (Davis, 2012) general voter registration in California grew by 2.1% over 2008 to 76.7% of all eligible voters, and youth registration grew by 13.9%. In addition, voters who registered on line turned out at a higher rate (by 8 percentage points) than those who registered through other methods.

Eligibility: Whole population over age 18, with a focus on young people

Youth opportunities to participate in policy making

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: There are different ways youth may engage in national decision-making processes. An important pathway is running for electoral office. The age at which a citizen can stand for office varies substantially by country. Although some countries have a minimum age of 18, in most, citizens must wait until age 21 or 25 or even 35 or 40. Low eligibility ages may foster representation of young lawmakers in parliaments. Different countries have developed a variety of strategies to elect more young people to parliament, including lowering the minimum age to run for office, setting youth quotas, connecting and supporting networks of young parliamentarians, and building up the next generation of leaders through youth parliaments affiliated with national parliaments. Young people can also serve as members of youth committees and commissions about youth-related issues in local or national governments. Governments have a significant role in creating space for youth participation in public institutions. They can pass legislation to create youth advisory bodies, such as national youth councils, that work with legislators and executives and that institutionalise the youth voice in the policy-making process.

Do they work? Most strategies to increase youth participation in policy making face issues of representativeness. Not all youth have the same resources or opportunities to participate, and reaching out to under-represented youth is difficult. Governments also need to build the capacity of youth to participate meaningfully; provide young people with soft skills (communication, negotiation and critical thinking) and civic education at school to allow for their active participation. Not all youth are equally aware of opportunities to get involved; it is the government’s role to find ways to inform all youth. Inviting the youth voice may risk adultism: authorities who attempt to discourage young people and question their leadership capabilities or negative attitudes towards young leaders by politicians. To invite youth to the policy-making table in earnest requires sensitising politicians in how to communicate and exchange constructively with young people.

Example: Quotas, Kenya

The 2010 Constitution of Kenya reserves seats for two young people – a man and a woman – aged 18-35 in the Upper House, allocated by political parties based on the number of seats won in the election. In addition, the National Assembly has 290 elected members, each elected by voters of single-mandate constituencies, and 12 members nominated by political parties to represent special interests, including youth, people with disabilities and workers, with the relevant list to be composed of alternating male and female candidates.

Eligibility: Young people aged 18–35

Similar initiative: Desayunos Públicos (Public Breakfast), Chile

National Youth Councils

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Young people can also participate in diverse non-governmental platforms that aim to shape the debate and to take action on youth-related issues. For instance, young people can be members of school councils and local youth councils, youth organisations concerning education, health or environmental issues, religious youth organisations, student youth organisations, political youth organisations, cultural youth organisations and many others. They can also participate in national youth councils (NYCs), umbrella organisations that co-ordinate all youth organisations across a country. NYCs can be organisations with different interests and activities and can be government-led or youth-led (see Module 6 in Part II). Some countries also have youth parliaments, which can have formal, informal or no affiliation with national parliaments. Governments have a key role to play in guaranteeing that opportunities for youth participation are not constrained or obfuscated. Many avenues for youth participation lack funding and resources, while their special role in giving young people power over their own lives is not always recognised. Governments should promote a positive environment for youth platforms to flourish. For instance, they should facilitate the registration of youth organisations by recognising legal youth structures and removing any legal barriers to youth participation.

Do they work? Unfriendly national legislation regarding NGOs (e.g. taxes imposed on NGOs, public procurement laws and registration procedures, etc.) can hamper the creation and functioning of youth NGOs. Governments should establish national legislation that acknowledges the existence of youth organisations and national youth councils and allows them to operate in a trustworthy and predictable environment. Lack of predictable funding makes long-term projects difficult to design and carry out. Governments could support the functioning of youth organisations by providing them with regular financing that covers at least administrative and operating costs. Representativeness and the difficulty to reach out to vulnerable and marginalised groups is also a challenge for youth organisations. Not all young people have equal cognitive and non-cognitive skills to participate fully. Both governments and the youth organisations themselves can play a role in helping those young people gain needed skills and in ensuring that organisation membership and audience are appropriately inclusive and diverse.

Example: State Council of Youth Affairs, Lithuania

The State Council of Youth Affairs is a collegial advisory institution under the Department of Youth Affairs established in 1996 by the Lithuanian Parliament. It consists of twelve members: six government officials and six youth organisation representatives delegated by the NGO National Youth Council of Lithuania (LiJOT). The LiJOT president automatically gets a mandate to participate on the State Council, while the government representatives are appointed by the Prime Minister. The chair of the council is a representative of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, whereas the vice-chair is a member of LiJOT. LiJOT’s representatives are delegated by the General Assembly, which elects them for a two-year term by secret ballot. Although decisions of the State Council of Youth Affairs are advisory in nature only, LiJOT implemented a unique system of co-decision making through this co-management structure, where young people have an equal say with government representatives. The council oversees the development, implementation and evaluation of the national youth policy. The council’s representatives set up guidelines in designing youth projects, give suggestions to the Department of Youth Affairs on the implementation of youth policy and provide inter-ministerial recommendations to ministries dealing with youth.

Eligibility: Youth organisations

Participation in the media

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Youth are not only media consumers but also active content producers. An increasing number of young people use media tools to express themselves and connect with peers. The media is key to reaching and engaging youth in civic and political activities and giving them an opportunity to exercise active citizenship. Social media especially is increasingly allowing youth to share ideas and mobilise on diverse issues. Participatory media offers growing opportunities for youth to exert agency in the public sphere by circulating and remixing content, commenting on broadcast content, writing and distributing statements and dialoguing with each other and with leaders in an effort to play a role in shaping the agenda. Through media, youth can reach a large number of their contemporaries and adults to dialogue about their lives and worlds, raise awareness about youth-related issues, and mobilise peers around common concerns without being dependent on establishment-driven institutions. Governments have a role to play in ensuring that all youth have access to media forums, enabling each to express her or his views.

Do they work? Language barriers, both in terms of local languages and difficult terminology, can hinder young people from understanding and participating in traditional and new media communication. Using several languages and simplifying terminology will increase the impact of communication outreach and participation. Access to ICT infrastructure and development of ICT skills are a prerequisite to any successful media participation programme, in particular to ensure inclusion of the most vulnerable groups. Time constraints due to studying or working must be taken into account when engaging with young people. Finally, legal protection of freedom of expression must be guaranteed.

Example: Curious Minds, Ghana

Curious Minds is a youth radio programme about children’s rights broadcast on Ghanaian National Radio. It was started in 1996 by an independent group, Women in Broadcasting, and several organisations joined the initiative over the years, including UNICEF. A group of young people aged 8-18 organise this radio programme and act as presenters and producers of the show under the supervision of a professional journalist, who co-ordinates the activities of the group. More than 60 young people are part of the group, as well as resource people, who help them in framing the discussion from their point of view. Two programmes are produced per week: one in English and one in Ga, the local language. The programme has now expanded to the entire country with the support of Save the Children. The radio programme explores a broad range of educational and developmental topics pertaining to young people and aims to raise awareness about issues related to children’s rights. The programme is divided into parts. First, a “Letter to the one who cares”, written by a young person, addresses a pressing issue from a youth perspective. Other youth then discuss the topic and offer suggestions. In the second segment, the fact corner explores issues in a specific subject area chosen for the week. Children and young members of the radio programme also participate in other community activities, such as visiting rural areas to talk about the importance of education and health and meeting with local adult community leaders and governmental officials to discuss the necessity of including children’s and young voices in development projects.

Targets and eligibility: Children and young people aged 8-18 as producers and the whole population as an audience.

Volunteerism and non-cognitive skills development

Youth service programmes

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Youth service refers to intensive volunteer schemes that engage youth in productive work while potentially increasing their skills and impacting the individuals, organisations and communities with which they work. Service programmes may be international, national or local in scope, and particular groups of volunteers may be targeted based on their age, faith or skills. Providing diverse opportunities for youth to engage in community service allows them to develop skills and gain experience, while promoting the development of a new generation of experienced citizens, activists and volunteers. Community service also allows states to undertake needed projects and provide young people with opportunities for out-of-classroom learning. Some universities require graduates to commit to a long-term service placement upon graduation. Some youth service programmes specifically target unemployed, out-of-school youth, offering the opportunity to access better livelihood opportunities or more formal education and training through their participation. Youth service programmes aim to build job readiness, prepare youth for civic responsibility and, in developing countries, mitigate the effects of high unemployment. Governments that sponsor and co-ordinate national or international service programmes generally partner with NGOs, which implement most service programmes.

Do they work? Efforts to assess the impact of youth service programmes require greater support. Offering financial compensation or non-monetary benefits, for example, remains controversial. Evidence shows that incentives tend to undermine the service ethos and create dependency. A high turnover rate should be expected and taken into account as youth servers move on to explore formal employment opportunities in and outside of their communities. Illiteracy and low levels of education can be a barrier to youth service for many young people, especially among vulnerable groups. The politicisation of youth service programmes has the potential pitfall of furthering the narrow political interest of ruling parties.

Example: Youth Star, Cambodia

Youth Star is a full-time national youth service programme. University graduates are placed for a year in marginalised rural areas to work on local development issues. With the support of community-based partners, the volunteers identify the vulnerable groups and assess priorities of the community to formulate together an action plan. The leading component of the volunteer work is enhancing literacy at a village level and equipping local vulnerable young people with the tools and skills to participate meaningfully in improving life in their communities. The programme focuses on local children at risk and aims to prevent them from dropping out of school or to reintegrate them back into the school system when they have dropped out. In some cases, volunteers teach in schools and provide support to teachers and administration. Such an approach aims at empowering communities, as well as creating lasting collaborative relationships. Youth Star’s major sources of funding are the Cambodian government and international organisations.

Eligibility: University graduates

Example: Red de Voluntariado (Network of Voluntary Work), Chile

In Chile, the Red de Voluntariado (Network of Voluntary Work) aims at offering a forum for discussion between civil society organisations and public authorities on the promotion of volunteerism among young people. In this context, the government organised the Encuentro Nacional de Organizaciones de Voluntariado (National Workshop for Voluntary Organisations) in 2015, gathering more than 70 organisations to develop voluntary activities for young people. Over the last years, the Chilean government established different volunteers’ programmes to foster youth participation in society. Young people can participate in diverse community work programmes that aim to engage youth in the development of Chile and to build their social capital. For instance, the “Cultiva Tu identitad” (Cultivate Your Identity) programme targets students aged 15-18 who present a high level of school vulnerability. This programme gives disadvantaged youths the opportunity to discover the natural heritage of their own country by taking part in environmental education activities in some wild protected areas (Áreas Silvestres Protegidas del Estado). The participants are sensitised on environment protection issues while learning to work as a team. In the same vein, the volunteers’ programme “Vive Tus Parques” allows young people aged 18-29 to participate in a ten days summer or winter camp in the wild protected areas. The participants work to maintain and improve the recreational and public areas, build infrastructures and equipment, and develop environment protection activities.

Eligibility: Youth aged 15-18 and 18-29

Extra-curricular activities

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Participation in diverse recreational activities is a right of every child and is essential for the personal development of children and young people. Structured out-of-school activities in a supervised environment play a key role in preventing or reducing the likelihood and amount of time young people have to engage in risky or harmful behaviours. Recreational activities may also increase young participants’ positive self-image and self-esteem, promote positive social development and improve interpersonal skills. The absence of leisure and recreational facilities and activities for children and young people in many countries is a pressing issue. Governments should commit to developing youth-centred culture and recreation policies and ensuring that all children have access to a minimum standard of safe recreational and cultural facilities. A growing number of schools and community-based organisations have created programmes that provide young people with youth-friendly and safe spaces in which to enjoy productive, supervised activities during their free time. Some recreational programmes aim specifically to reintroduce marginalised youth to learning, encouraging them to continue their education or find employment, reconnecting them with their communities and providing them with life skills.

Do they work? To increase participation, young people should be given a voice in the design, implementation and monitoring of recreation policies and facilities. Special consideration should be given to marginalised groups while the range of recreational opportunities available to disadvantaged young people maximised. Governments should also promote relevant qualifications and standards in the provision of recreational activities. Recreational activities should be provided by high-quality staff who are truly committed and trained to work with vulnerable youth using interactive, youth-led, relevant teaching methods. It is also important to involve family and community members in programme activities to strengthen family and community life. Few rigorous evaluations of youth recreational programmes have been conducted. Thus, it is important to collect data and improve information on and evaluation and monitoring of recreational provisions for young people to assess the needs and design better targeted programmes.

Example: Open Schools Programme, Brazil

The Open Schools Programme was created in 2004 by the Ministry of Education and now operates in all Brazilian states. Public schools are open on weekends for workshops and events on oral communication, artistic expression, physical development, academic support, learning to live together, sociability and citizenship, among others. The Open School Programme provides an opportunity for youth and families living in vulnerable communities to access cultural activities. Youth participation in drama, arts and crafts, music, dance and play-based activities broadens horizons, strengthens self-esteem and can help youths discover a new feeling of belonging to their school and community. Young people play a central role in the programme, since they themselves co-ordinate activities and mobilise the community to participate in the programme. The programme is cost-effective, as it maximises existing public spaces and activities are incorporated into educational practices, utilising their equipment and materials. In addition, it is staffed by volunteers and older young people. In exchange for their commitment, young people receive tuition waivers at private universities throughout the state. The programme adopts a decentralised approach, giving states, municipalities and schools the flexibility to adjust it to local needs. According to UNESCO, schools participating in Pernambuco State’s Abrindo Espaços experienced a 60% reduction in violence, as well as reduced rates of sexual aggression, suicide, substance abuse, theft and armed robbery. Participating schools in other states are also showing positive results (World Bank, 2007b).

Eligibility: School-aged children and their families and communities

Similar initiatives: The After-School Plan for Children, Japan

Mentoring programmes

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Mentoring programmes provide individual guidance and support to young people in need to encourage behavioural change. They have become increasingly popular because of their cost-effectiveness and results in reducing school drop-out, violence and drug use in high-risk areas. A caring and responsible adult, a mentor, is assigned to a young person in need to provide guidance in his or her social, professional and academic life. Mentors are generally volunteers recruited from businesses, schools and other community settings unrelated to the young person. Mentoring provides the young individual with a role model and can either be a free-standing intervention or part of a youth development programme. Some programmes have a goal of promoting positive youth development generally; others adopt more focused objectives within areas of education or employment. Programmes can be one-to-one mentoring, group mentoring (one mentor assigned to one or several youth) or team mentoring (one young person with more than one mentor). Other methods include online mentoring, peer mentoring and school-based programmes.

Do they work? Mentoring programmes are most effective when the mentee is young, so the earlier, the better. Creating a sense of connectedness and building trust may take several years, but they are key to the success of such programmes. Mentoring should consist of regular meetings between mentors and mentees, with a monitoring of progress over time by programme staff. Selection of mentors must be done carefully, with thorough background checks and other screening procedures (e.g. interviews) to assess suitability and make a good match. Mentors should be provided with orientation, training and ongoing support to temper and address their expectations, delineate their role and bridge any differences they may have with the young person. Programme staff should continuously support and supervise the mentor-mentee relationship (e.g. ensure the occurrence of regular meetings, structured activities, development of positive relationships). Additional research would be useful to identify the determinants of successful mentoring and to understand the long-term impact on the participants.

Example: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, United States

Big Brothers/Big Sisters is the largest volunteer-supported mentoring network in the United States. It promotes positive youth development through one-to-one mentoring for youth aged 5-18 who come from single-parent and/or low-income families. The programme assigns children volunteer mentors from families, schools and businesses. The programme aims to improve the self-confidence, social skills and life aspirations of mentees and to reduce risky behaviours. On average, mentors and mentees meet for four hours, three times a month for 12 months. Impact evaluations found that the programme reduced substance abuse and violence, improved parent and peer relationships and improved school attendance and performance. Compared to their peers in the control group, after 18 months in the programme, mentees were 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27% less likely to begin using alcohol, 52% less likely to skip school and 37% less likely to skip a class (Grossman, 1998).

Eligibility: Disadvantaged and other youth aged 5-18

Similar initiatives: African Women in Agricultural Research and Development programme; Mentor Me India Programme, India

Civic rights and citizenship

Civic education for young people

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: Civic education teaches about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship to young people, including in the areas of peace, human rights, democracy and international understanding. Different institutions help to develop and shape the knowledge, skills and civic character and commitments of young citizens. Family, religious institutions, the media and community groups all exert important influences. Schools have a special role to play in teaching young people the values, skills and knowledge necessary for full participatory citizenship. Schools can fulfil that responsibility through both formal and informal education, from the earliest years and throughout the educational process. Civic education consists of several components: civic knowledge, global knowledge, civic skills and civic dispositions. Civic knowledge concerns the workings of the political system and a young person’s political and civic rights (e.g. freedom of expression, right to vote, right to run for public office) and responsibilities (e.g. respect for the rule of law and the rights and interests of others). Knowledge about global concerns allows their informed participation in civic life. Civic skills include the ability to analyse, evaluate, take and defend positions on public issues and to use their knowledge to participate in civic and political processes. Civic dispositions are those traits necessary to a democracy and which motivate civic commitment to it (e.g. tolerance, public spiritedness, civility, critical thinking, and willingness to listen, negotiate and compromise). Civic education can also comprise a life skills component. Civic education can be provided in the classroom through different methods, such as debates, small group discussions, role play, brainstorming and problem solving.

Do they work? Civic education should be the forum that nurtures a genuine culture of discussion and debate and should avoid a catalogue of set questions and answers. Teachers and staff should be adequately trained in teaching civic knowledge, skills, dispositions and global affairs. Programme content should be adapted to youth: age-appropriate, youth-friendly and interactive. Civic education programmes have to be locally and nationally owned and adapted; however, government-sponsored civic education in academic settings has to be neutral, accurate and not seen as favouring any party or candidate. Governments should partner with NGOs and the media to reach out-of-school youth too.

Example: Uraia Trust Programme, Kenya

Uraia Trust was established in 2011 as a successor to Kenya’s National Civic Education Programme phase I and II. The programme began as an umbrella under which 57 Kenyan civil society organisations supported the training and deployment of civic educators and the dissemination of a national civic education curriculum in Kenya. The programme was designed to respond to the hate campaigns that preceded the 2007/08 post-election violence and to enhance national reconciliation and cohesion, include youth and marginalised groups in the political process and develop leadership accountability. The programme provided civic education to help Kenyan citizens pursue their rights under the new constitution. Before the 2013 election, the programme used a national civic education curriculum, The Citizen Handbook, to disseminate information on the electoral process and system. A total of 359 trained civic educators from 57 civil society organisations helped to disseminate the curriculum. Each civic educator covered at least eight organised groups (youth groups, women’s groups, etc.) in his or her community. In 2013, the Uraia Trust, in partnership with the Kenya Institute of Education, developed an online civic education module for primary and secondary schools. In addition, the programme supports the dissemination of civic education through radio and television programmes. The Uraia Trust continues to carry out civic education programmes, with a focus on citizen participation in the implementation of devolution and promoting social accountability at the county level.

Eligibility: Whole population, with a focus on youth

Similar initiatives: Comprehensive Course of Study, Japan

Registering undocumented youth

☐ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Birth and civil registration are prerequisites for citizenship and act as a permanent and visible recognition by the state of an individual’s existence as a member society. They contribute to the fulfilment of the rights to a name and nationality and are essential for obtaining other legal documents and for realising many other civic and human rights, such as access to education, employment or health care. In addition, birth registration is essential for national planning and monitoring, since it enables the collection of the demographic data required to design effective strategies. However, many births in developing countries are unregistered. Providing birth certificates to undocumented young people is essential for them to access social services, exercise their citizenship and avoid social exclusion and various related negative outcomes, such as anti-social behaviours. In order to achieve universal registration, governments should strengthen civil registry systems, raise awareness about the importance of birth registration as a child’s right, create the necessary infrastructure to reach all of the population and provide birth registration free of charge and as part of the delivery of other public services, for instance health care, education or anti-poverty programmes.

Do they work? Stimulating public demand for documentation requires strong political will and involvement by all levels of society. It requires a sound diagnostic of the situation based on relevant data derived from surveys, census, etc. and co-ordination among all relevant ministries and institutions related to civil registration. Effective programmes establish local registry offices to ensure maximum coverage and build in flexibility to allow for late registration. Governments should encourage people to seek registration services through public campaigns with appropriate content provided in minority languages. Resources can be maximised by integrating birth registration with other services, such as health and education programmes. Special consideration should be given to vulnerable groups of children and youth, who are most at risk for not being registered. Rigorous impact evaluations are vital to assess the effect of documentation programmes on specific outcomes (education, employment, health) for those previously undocumented. To be sustainable, birth registration systems require long-term investment.

Example: Birth registration strategy, Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives undertook significant efforts towards universal birth registration in the 1990s through the creation of a low-cost and accessible birth registration system. It adopted a new legal framework in 2004 (the Birth and Deaths Registration Act); built the capacity of various stakeholders (registrars, local government officials, teachers, health workers, etc.) through training and orientation; improved inter-institutional co-operation among the health, education and birth registration systems; supplied administrative materials; established a national electronic birth registration system; and raised awareness on the importance of birth registration through newsletters, posters, leaflets, audio-visual resources for mass media outlets and interactive popular theatre. The government also declared July 3 Birth Registration Day to highlight the importance of birth registration for every child and adult and the fact that registration is free. Birth registration has become linked with immunisation services. If an unregistered child comes to receive immunisation, the health assistant can report the child to the local registrar to start the process of registration. A similar process occurs in schools, where birth registration is now required for enrolment and where teachers can initiate the process of birth registration for any unregistered children they encounter. Special initiatives have been introduced to register vulnerable and out-of-school children, such as those living in brothels, refugee camps or slums. All these initiatives have resulted in a dramatic increase in birth registration rates. The birth registration rate for children under age 5 increased from 9.8% in 2006 to 53.6% in 2009.

Eligibility: Whole population

Safety and juvenile justice systems

Guaranteeing safe neighbourhoods for youth

☑ Preventive ☐ Second chance

Description: The environment in which young people interact plays a decisive role in their development. Neighbourhoods that are unsafe are associated with negative outcomes, such as juvenile delinquency, crime, high school drop-out or child abuse. By contrast, supportive neighbourhoods are associated with positive outcomes, such as stronger connections with family and peers, greater participation in extra-curricular programmes and better school achievements. Comprehensive safe neighbourhood programmes can modify the environment in which young people live and grow up and prevent them from engaging in risky behaviours. First, governments should strengthen and adapt police response, including setting up targeted police patrols in high-risk areas. Endeavour to enhance the reputation of the police and introduce community and problem-solving policing to make policing more responsive and accountable to local communities and to create bonds of trust with local populations. Second, programmes should offer diverse supervised activities for young people living in unsafe neighbourhoods as healthy alternatives to crime and violence (e.g. second chance education, after-school programmes, cultural activities or sports leagues). Governments should also invest in local services and infrastructure (access to education, health, water, sanitation, waste collection) to ensure the availability and maintenance of public spaces. Urban renewal schemes, such as improving street lighting, ensuring safe routes to school, removing graffiti or planting community gardens, contribute to increased security while stimulating civic spirit and revitalising community life. Infrastructure rehabilitation also creates opportunities for young people to perform community service and gives them an incentive not to damage the environment they have helped to improve. Governments should also restrict access to firearms by undertaking legislative reforms, establishing gun-free zones in a variety of public places, combatting illicit weapons trafficking and conducting awareness campaigns.

Do they work? The most promising interventions to guarantee safe neighbourhoods for youth are those that combine direct and indirect approaches to target both the symptoms and drivers of armed violence and other elements endemic to these neighbourhoods. Where unsafe neighbourhoods result, persist or resist intervention in part from a lack of faith or trust in community policing, governments should undertake important efforts to improve police transparency and ethics: stamp out favouritism, corruption, brutality and misuse of power within the police force and set up a confidential public police complaints system. The police must be trained in dealing with young people and engaging with communities in an open-minded and unbiased way. Strong co-operation among all the relevant ministries and stakeholders at the local level is imperative. Involve the community in identifying the problems of unsafe neighbourhoods, finding solutions and monitoring programme success. Programme costs can be reduced by using existing public spaces, such as schools and community centres. Long-term interventions necessitate sound monitoring to ensure that benchmark objectives are being met.

Example: Mi Barrio Seguro, Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, the Mi Barrio Seguro programme was a pilot programme established in 2005 with the aim of reducing and preventing violence in the Capotillo neighbourhood and then extended to 13 surrounding neighbourhoods. The programme promoted an understanding of citizenship and security as interdependent based on the premise that, by increasing the participation of responsible citizens in security, the security services would also be transformed and develop a greater sensitivity to citizen concerns. Mi Barrio Seguro consisted of increased police patrols in crime “hot spots”, infrastructure improvements (e.g. road entries and exits, public recreational areas), more community policing, neighbourhood security improvements (e.g. street lighting), new classrooms in schools, literacy and civic education programmes, and cultural workshops and sports clinics for young people run by neighbourhood organisations. The government took significant steps to exclude officers with backgrounds of corruption or abuse from working on the programme. Police assigned to the programme received 15 days of pre-service training and a bonus of USD 31 to USD 413 per month over salary, as well as a food bonus. The programme was based on an intensive cross-sectoral co-ordination led by the Ministry of Interior in collaboration with the Ministries of Education, Health, Youth, and Social Protection, the police and community leaders. The programme focused on strengthening community organisations in selected areas to serve as partners in security. Initial evaluations showed a 68% reduction in homicides in pilot neighbourhoods after only six months and an increased sense of security in the neighbourhoods. In 12 of the 13 high-violence neighbourhoods, opinion of the police force improved, which contributed to a further expansion of the programme to other neighbourhoods and cities (World Bank and UNODC, 2006). In addition, the increased policing presence and quality boosted residents’ confidence in the effectiveness of the criminal justice system; the number of complaints to the local Public Prosecutor’s Office from those neighbourhoods rose from approximately 900 to almost 1 200.

Eligibility: Communities in high-risks neighbourhoods, police officers

Enhancing youth juvenile justice systems

☑ Preventive ☑ Second chance

Description: Incarcerating young people has long-lasting negative consequences on the health, well-being and self-esteem of young detainees. Premature or excessive punishment, including incarceration, may result in continued criminal activity after release. Evidence shows that the most effective approaches to reducing youth crime and violence are rehabilitation and second chance opportunities for young delinquents rather than punishment. Governments should adopt and comply with the UN conventions that address juvenile justice, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires states to establish a separate juvenile system for youth under age 18 that promotes prevention and community rehabilitation. Governments should invest in effective social reintegration for children and young people who are released from the criminal justice system, for instance through community rehabilitation projects. Higher recidivism rates are also associated with harsh prison conditions, as is incarceration alongside adults. Governments should therefore guarantee special protections for incarcerated youth and that the internment conditions for youth are conducive to a process of rehabilitation. It is imperative that governments review the severity and particulars of youth criminal penalties and adopt alternative measures to incarceration, which should be applied as a last resort. A graduated sanctions approach for first-time and minor repeat offenders should be adopted; graduated sanctions can help the offender understand the consequences of his or her negative behaviour and to learn how to avoid repeating it. Such an approach also helps young delinquents avoid a juvenile court record and prevents them coming into contact with ‘hard core’ offenders in the prison system. Youth courts are believed to reduce recidivism by tapping the power of positive peer influence (Butts and Ortiz, 2011). These are community courts conducted by youth to arbitrate non-violent offences that would otherwise end up in juvenile or adult court. Young people take on a variety of roles (judges, prosecutors, defence attorney, etc.), deliberate and sentence their peers for their offences. Youth courts allow families to re-engage in a positive dialogue with delinquent children, reduce adult court backlogs and provide opportunities for delinquents to learn about citizenship and the law.

Do they work? Juvenile justice systems demand the close co-operation of relevant ministries, local authorities, the police, civil society organisations and community leaders, along with targeted staff training (justice system, police, etc.). Rehabilitative strategies may generate resistance among populations and/or perverse unintended consequences, for instance gangs using juveniles for the most heinous crimes in expectation that the penalties will be less severe and lengthy. Second chances policies should be balanced against the legitimate need to deter violence. Logistically, governments may need to invest in additional infrastructure and training to accommodate alternative sentences of community service, special education, hands-on vocational training and skill development or restorative work. Youth courts must also be adapted to local needs in terms of where they are located and their operational model (for example, an adult judge, a youth judge, a peer jury or a youth tribunal). Local justice systems must allocate sufficient funds to measuring programme outcomes in terms of behavioural changes of the young participants and to making any necessary implementation or structural changes within a programme.

Example: Juvenile Justice Alternatives Project (JJAP), Tajikistan

In 2004, Tajikistan introduced JJAP for youth aged 10-18 to provide alternatives to prosecution and detention for youth charged with criminal offences. Five JJAP projects provided non-residential, community-based rehabilitation programmes that used both state-run child and youth centres and NGOs as resources to provide support and assistance. Each project was staffed by a project co-ordinator, lawyer, a minimum of two social workers and one psychologist, who provided tailored psychosocial programmes and practical assistance to each participant and his or her family. Prior to each programme, all staff received comprehensive training from an international social work specialist. The aim of JJAP was to provide a holistic service to the young offender and address the root causes of the actions and prevent recidivism. Interventions included psychological assessment and support; therapy and family work, including parental skill development; legal support; social services support; and remedial education. A programme was developed following an assessment of the young person’s needs and the needs of his or her family. Some prescribed activities were those offered to all local children through the child and youth centres, such as on civic education and healthy living, and vocational training, classes in soft skills, as well as recreational activities. Basing JJAPs in existing centres allowed for a greater diversity of activity and gave young offenders the opportunity to form relationships with the wider youth population and disassociate with those who were having a negative impact on their lives. The JJAP projects accepted over 250 youth who would otherwise have been charged with a crime and prosecuted. Results showed an average drop of 42% in the rate of juvenile offences in districts where projects operated, while juvenile offences rose by 3% in areas not offering a JJAP (O’Donnell, 2015).

Eligibility: Young offenders aged 10-18

Similar initiatives: Community Accountability Boards, United States

Box 2.1. Using the power of sport as a tool for social change, Laureus Sport for Good, worldwide

The Laureus Sport for Good’s goal is to help young people overcome the limitations imposed by challenging social issues including juvenile crime, gangs, gun and knife violence, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness and health problems like obesity. The mission was inspired by the words of the first Patron of Laureus, Nelson Mandela who said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” The impact of Laureus Sport for Good is to change over 500 000 young lives through sport, to include widened social networks; improvements in physical and mental health; access to accredited qualifications, training placements, or employment; reduced risky sexual behaviour; reduced discrimination or stereotyping; increased confidence and self-esteem.



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