A new report which reviews the existing literature on the situation of youth in Lebanon and benefits from opinion polls undertaken for the preparation of the UNDP Regional Arab Human Development Report.
The report shows that although Lebanon has made progress towards human development in the past decades, major obstacles remain in creating enough job opportunities for the youth. At least a third of them, the most highly educated, are looking to emigrate. Obtaining a university degree does not guarantee a major improvement in employment opportunities; though overall youth unemployment rests at 20.6%, it is even worse for more educated individuals. The median tertiary educated youth only earns $733 per month on average – very low when measured against the cost of rent, healthcare and living expenses.
While the majority of Lebanese students are enrolled in private schools and nearly all Lebanese (97%) have access to primary education, less than two thirds complete their lower secondary education. In comparison, only half of secondary school aged Palestinians are enrolled in school and a mere 22% of primary and secondary age Syrian children are in formal education. Furthermore, due to the privatized nature of a high percentage of the quality healthcare, youth from poorer backgrounds do not have access to these services.
Results of the Gallup survey conducted over a period of eight consecutive years indicate, among other things, that all subpopulations residing in Lebanon are very displeased with the current state of the job market. Compared to the pool of Arab states, Lebanon is the most supportive of gender equality by a wide margin. However, two-thirds of youth would not consider marrying from a different sect and almost half of them do not trust members of other religious groups. More than two thirds of citizens consider Syrian refugees as an existential threat. The majority of the Lebanese do not believe they can make a difference regarding the most important challenges around them, both at the national and communal level. While Lebanese youth are amongst the most active demonstrators in the Arab region, outside protests, they seem disengaged politically as they do not widely participate in national and local elections.
The report includes recommendations such as quelling the “brain drain” as well as improving the quality of public education and expanding the scope of basic education. It also advises to spread awareness about certain health issues among youth and to implement more effective drug policies. An important part of the recommendations focuses on employment, including improving employment opportunities in terms of adjusting training for the needs of the economy, supporting youth entrepreneurship, enhancing information about employment, further developing public employment through administrative decentralization, protecting workers and ensuring workplace rights, and removing work restrictions on Syrians and Palestinians.
Download a copy of the report here.