Creating a World where Young People Thrive

To recover from the COVID-19 education crisis, we must put our resources on local solutions that we can scale globally. We must focus on young people who are creating positive change.

Saddam Sayyaleh
Action Guide 4: Creating decent jobs for youth
Generation Unlimited
22 January 2021

This blog was developed on the occasion of the International Day of Education, by Saddam Sayyaleh, an inspiring change-maker from Jordan, who is part of the Generation Unlimited Global Leadership Council.

Today, being young is hard. The hardest it has been in a long while. Hundreds of millions of young people are not developing the skills they need for work. The quality of and access to education and skill-development opportunities are limited, especially for the most marginalized. The COVID-19 pandemic is poised to deepen this crisis further, with 190 countries having experienced some level of school closures since the start of the pandemic.

Primary, secondary and tertiary levels—which in my experience give shape to any future civic participation of children and young people—have also been shaken by the recent crisis, making it increasingly unclear how the world will recover education for the Covid-19 generation.

In today’s world where uncertainty looms, young people across the globe share many of the same learning to earning challenges at large. Millions of young people are ready to join the workforce and look for jobs. But, as things stand, many won’t find jobs. And even if they do, it’s often low-income and in the informal economy. This leads us all to wonder, ‘What is the value of formal education in a crisis?’

Education is more than in-class learning

Young people are showing the world that methods of learning that once were the norm are no longer working. We need a new education that caters to the ever-changing needs of young people, everywhere.

Even as millions of young people lack meaningful opportunities to participate socially, economically, and politically, they are still creating innovative solutions to “Learn and Earn.”

According to the World Economic Forum “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

"Good teachers teach. Great teachers transform."


Queen Rania of Jordan

In order to prepare young people and a new generation to cope with the uncertainty and continuous changes of the future, educators should shift from just transferring information to nurturing intelligent, knowledgeable, accountable, and good decision-makers.

I believe that to recover from the COVID-19 education crisis, we need to put our resources and focus on local solutions that we can scale globally. We must focus on young people who are playing a major role in recovering, creating impact on national and global level.

Working with IlearnJo, we managed to shift narratives with and for young people, and our partners paved the way for thousands of children and young people to see themselves as partners and not just passive recipients of adult influences.

A recent example that shows just how impactful and inclusive young people are is  Syria’s CreaDeaf team, who, with the help of Generation Unlimited, are working to ensure that no one gets left behind in their educational path. “Our goal to create job opportunities for deaf young people in Syria goes beyond merely having them more included and accepted by society,” says Mohammad Emad, founder of CreaDeaf.

Indeed, each year, Generation Unlimited shows the world the power of investing and listening to young people across the world through the Youth Challenge, and this makes us aspire to turn today’s challenges into opportunities and work hand-in-hand with young people to create solutions for social challenges.

Enabling the voice, agency, and action of youth as identifiers of solutions for problems affecting themselves and others is critical. And we must all join GenU to support young people as change-makers and co-creators of solutions that improve their lives and their communities.

Now is the time to look into a world centered around young people, where every young person gets access to opportunities to develop non-cognitive and soft-skills that will help them perservere. Our global movement should lead to a generation that is responsive to crisis as we face climate change, conflicts and refugee crisis.

I strongly believe that, together, we can create a world where young people thrive. A world where young refugee populations do not have trouble in accessing education. A world where the gap between educational attainment and employment is low. A world where there is no policy-panic when it comes to responding to young people’s needs.

But we must come together!