By EA Trade Review Writer
East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Speaker Abdirahin Abdi has expressed concern over high unemployment in the region.
Mr Abdi says that unemployment and under-employment were key crises that need the immediate attention of legislators and other stakeholders.
"In Burundi for example, the youth stand at 51.1 per cent, 14 per cent of whom are unemployed. Statistics further reveal that only 11 per cent of school graduates can acquire jobs in the public sector,” says the Speaker.
“In the Republic of Kenya, 72 per cent of the unemployed population is below 30 years of age."
Speaking during the official opening of a seminar organized by EALA in collaboration with the Association of European Parliamentarians With Africa (AWEPA) in Nairobi, Mr Abdi however noted efforts being made across the region to achieve universal primary education.
"The Republic of Uganda which was the first country in the region to initiate Universal Primary Education in 1993 has moved a notch higher and is well considering free secondary education - a move that should be replicated across the region", he said.
The political coordinator of AWEPA Holger Gustafsson, called for the enactment of legislation on youth and the harmonization of policies across East Africa with special emphasis on training and harnessing of skills.
"As children become older, they need to access the labour market to enable them progress," said Gustafasson.
A recent report by the Society for International Development (SID) revealed that East Africa has done well in increasing enrollment rates in primary school, with all countries passing the 100 per cent gross enrollment rate threshold and therefore achieving the Millennium Development Goal target of universal primary education.
It says Burundi saw the largest increase in enrollment rates, from 71 per cent in 2002 to 135 per cent in 2009.
However, the report by the Nairobi-based Non-Governmental Organisation headed by former EAC Secretary General Amb Juma Mwapachu says although most students in the region are attending primary school, a majority of them do not make the jump to secondary school.
It says Kenya had the highest secondary school enrollment rate at 45 per cent with the rest of the region recording lower enrollment rates.
“A lot of the challenges stem from the quality of primary school education. Many children are not learning effectively and not performing at the level they should, with alarmingly low results in reading English and Kiswahili effectively and doing simple arithmetic,” says the report.