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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pacific Island governments urged to invest more resources in Education

By Vienna Richards in Apia

With more than one in four young people living in extreme poverty in developing countries, Pacific Island nations must focus on youth to be effective in combating poverty, said United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Spokesperson Najib Assifi.

Speaking at the opening of the Pacific Parliamentary Assembly on Population and Development in Apia yesterday, Assifi said, “If we fail to invest in their education, health and employment, we will further entrench poverty for generations to come.”

With young people accounting for a large share of the population, they can be a dynamic force for change, said Mr Assiji. “But greater investments must be targeted to their well-being.”

“Young people, against a background of often limited economic growth, face increasing competition for jobs and other economic opportunities.”

“Investing in the education and health of the current youth generation will pay off, in terms of increased productivity, reduced health costs and enhanced social capital.”

The theme of the four-day inter-government meeting is safeguarding Pacific youth and accelerating actions thorough partnership with Pacific Parliamentarians.

Assiji called on governments and donors to invest more in youth and urged parliamentarians to be active champions of young people.

“Today Pacific Island countries are faced with new challenges while trying to meet the demands and needs of their changing population such as the growing demand for healthcare, land, drinking water, food, etc.”

Issues facing young people include becoming increasing sexually active at a very early age and sexually transmitted infections including the HIV epidemic and other related issues.

Participating governments are: Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Parliamentarians from New Zealand, Australia and Thailand are also presenting on youth issues and programmes operating in their respective countries.

The meeting is expected to produce a Regional Framework For Action on Youth Initiatives in the Pacific.

Source: Pacific Magazine

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