By Simon Ndirangu

17 April 2018 - 15:00

Busy street in Nairobi
'Forty-nine per cent of young Kenyans believe Kenyan society does not listen to young voices. This is despite young people making up more than 70 per cent of the electorate in our recent elections.' Photo ©

Diaznash licensed under CC0 1.0 and adapted from the original.

Young people in Kenya want quality education, fair access to career opportunities and a more visible role in public life. Simon Ndirangu, member of the Next Generation Kenya Youth Task Force, summarises the findings of our Next Generation Kenya report. 

Tell us about young people in Kenya and the context of this report. 

Over 20 per cent of Kenya's population are 15 to 24 years old, and the country's population will increase from 48 million today to 100 million by 2050, according to the United Nations.

The Next Generation Kenya report's findings show that the nearly 10 million young people in Kenya today are eager to participate and contribute to the socio-economic future of their country. 

However, the report also shows that young people in Kenya feel they are living in an environment with scarce opportunities and intense competition. Young people want to be heard and heeded, but feel locked out of the labour market and public life.

Where do young Kenyans see themselves in a global context?

Eighty-eight per cent of the young people surveyed for this report say social media makes them more tolerant of other people’s points of view, and 84 per cent say that it has made them feel more of a global citizen.

The report found that 81 per cent of young people would like to build their future in Kenya. Thirty-eight per cent of young Kenyans would also be willing to relocate overseas given the opportunity, with the United States and UK among their preferred destinations, to use their talents and meet their aspirations.

Sixty-two per cent of respondents believe their lives are better than those of their parents’ generation. Their optimism is challenged by concerns about levels of corruption, violence, gender inequality, unemployment and under employment.

Do young Kenyans feel included in politics and society?

Forty-nine per cent of young Kenyans believe Kenyan society does not listen to young voices. This is despite young people making up more than 70 per cent of the electorate in our recent elections. Forty per cent of youth report that they would stand for public office, but add that it will not be easy as they face age discrimination from people in authority.

Are education and skills accessible to young Kenyans?

Young Kenyans recognise the importance of education but question the quality and relevance of the education they receive. Eighty-seven per cent of household survey respondents agree a good education is the key to success, However, 62 per cent told us that the education they received did not match the skills required in the job market.

Are young people able to access employment opportunities?

Sixty-seven per cent of young Kenyans cited lack of employment opportunities as a main challenge. They attribute this to scarce work opportunities, inequitable access to existing opportunities, and high levels of gender and ethnic discrimination.

What are the report's recommendations for the future?

Young people surveyed for the report recommend encouraging more youth participation in civic engagement, community decision-making and policy-making. They also recommend enforcing workplace standards to protect against gender, age, ethnicity and disability discrimination.

Read the Next Generation Kenya report

The Next Generation series focuses on the attitudes and aspirations of young people, and the policies and conditions that support them in becoming creative, fulfilled and active citizens. This includes their views on education and employment, their daily lives and networks, their hopes and fears for their country and their degree of international engagement and views on the wider world.

Simon Ndirangu is a member of the British Council's Future Leaders Connect programme. Applications for Future Leaders Connect, the global network for emerging policy leaders, are now closed and will reopen in 2020. 

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