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非洲青年的变革力量

多伦多——几年前,在与塞内加尔某些最贫困社区的年轻人交谈时,两位社会企业家对我讲述了他们正在进行的帮助同龄人取得成功的项目。其中一位年轻人说他计划为小学配备更多电脑;另外一位则在塞内加尔首都达卡尔的城市混乱中建立起了联系农村求职者的网络。

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在听完他们的计划后,我对他们表示祝贺,说他们的父母肯定是非常自豪的。但他们非但没有接受赞美,反而陷入了沉默。“我的父母反对我在做的事,”他们几乎异口同声的说,而后他们对我解释年轻人面临来自家庭的压力希望找到一份政府工作或者利用自己的英语技能成为导游——而不是成为冒险的创业者。

对于雄心勃勃的非洲年轻人来说,需要克服许多障碍才能取得成功。无论从事正式或非正式、创业或传统工作,求职的旅程往往都充满了孤独。许多年轻人缺少技能训练,甚至得不到有利的社会环境来尝试新鲜事物。那天在塞内加尔的经历提醒我,帮助年轻人找到有价值的工作是国际社会能够帮助非洲发展的最重要的事务。

非洲拥有全世界数量最大的年轻人口。在未来25年间,这些年轻人将成为世界劳动大军的主力,其中有超过11亿工作年龄人口。某些预测认为,未来十年,每年将有一千一百万人进入非洲劳动力市场,其中绝大多数都是首次求职者。

如果非洲国家促进就业增长并用就业技能武装年轻人,这股年轻人大潮可以为非洲大陆带来快速、包容和可持续的经济增长。反过来,成百上千万人或许有机会摆脱贫困。

但非洲无法凭借一己之力实现这样的未来目标。在万事达基金会,我们认为如果想让非洲充分发挥其潜力,那么有两大关键领域的差距必须得到弥补。

第一个领域是获取金融产品和服务。据世界银行统计,世界各地约有20亿人目前无法获得金融产品和服务。在撒哈拉以南非洲地区,仅有34%的成年人拥有银行户头,这种状况为人们储蓄资金以备不时之需带来了困难,比如遇到农作物歉收或者为了积攒学费的需要。这种状况必须改变,非洲民众不仅应当拥有更好的金融系统,而且应当提高金融素养。

必须解决的第二个关键问题是排斥中等和高等教育。尽管某些地区已经取得了进展,但从高中毕业的年轻人仅占约三分之一左右。这方面女孩儿尤其弱势;据联合国教科文组织统计,在撒哈拉以南非洲地区,估计有900万11岁以下女童从未接受过学校教育,而从未上过学的男童仅有600万左右。

为了解决这些问题,万事达基金会已经与当地组织建立了合作,目的是设计帮助年轻人找到并保住工作岗位的教育和金融素质项目。通过建设更加训练有素的劳动队伍,万事达基金会项目正在协助授权下一代非洲的社区成员和领导者,以便他们能够帮助自己的家庭、社区和国家实现更加光明和繁荣的未来。

就像我在塞内加尔所遇到的那样,非洲各地正在涌现新一代受过教育且讲道德的企业家,体现了建设更强大非洲的深远的目标。例如,当我问及参与我们学者计划的年轻人他们学会技能后要做些什么,他们几乎无一例外地回答说在找到新的工作后,他们希望能帮助他人,比如回到自己毕业的中学担任导师辅导年轻的学生。

我们课程的某些毕业生已经在自己的村里设立了应对艾滋病毒/艾滋病的社区计划,还有人修建了孤儿和幼儿收容机构。每个聪明的非洲年轻人——万事达基金会所谓“变革型领导者”的实例——都有可能在自己的国家和社区推动变革。

我们这些国际发展领域工作者可以协助进一步创造公平环境,赋予所有背景的非洲年轻人机会以变革的方式进行领导。如果我们能够取得成功,非洲今天的梦想家将成为明天积极变革的催化力量。

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