Since 2000, August 12th has been commemorated as International Youth Day, which seeks to promote greater participation of young people in the development of solutions to current problems and a greater commitment on the part of governments to improve opportunities for the youth.
International Youth Day invites us to pause along the way and reflect on the current situation of young people in Costa Rica.
It is important to recognize that there is a great diversity of experiences currently lived by young people in the country. In relation to increasing inequality within the country and our approach as a foundation, it is important to detail the tasks that we have pending to ensure greater opportunities and social inclusion of young people within contexts of high social vulnerability.
Today, only 40.8% of young people between the ages of 17 and 21 finish school. That's to say, out of every 10 young people, 5-6 do not manage to complete secondary education.
Without secondary school, the possibilities of labor insertion and social mobility are extremely limited, which reflects in the national figures of youth unemployment. Costa Rica has the highest level of youth unemployment in Central America, with 48% of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 currently unemployed.
Additionally, when a young person is excluded from the education system, it is then challenging to find work or to resume studies in the future. Currently, there are 172,136 young people aged between 15 to 24 who are not studying or working,  leaving these young people more vulnerable to being involved or affected by situations of violence.
Although the grand picture could be overwhelming - and that it is important that we become aware of reality, we can still work together and transform this whole situation.
The trajectory of the Young Action Foundation (FAJ), 11 years of experience working in public schools teaches us that when attending to the factors that contribute to student exclusion - such as: lack of interest and little sense of belonging to the school, academic performance problems, lack of financial resources and problems of access-generate very positive results in the lives of at-risk youth.
For example, using the FAJ methodology in the framework of the High Opportunity Schools project, the student's exclusion from the South Pacific Lyceum was reduced from 11.3% in 2015 to only 3.3% in 2016, and in the same period of time, in the CTP of Purral, there was also a reduction from 10.4% exclusion to 5.2%. In the Bagaces School, a significant reduction of 7.3% of exclusion was generated to 4.1%, also within the space of one year.
Like these schools, there are many more with whom FAJ works with, who have committed themselves to improving inclusion, strengthening the quality of education and providing more opportunities for young people to facilitate the transition from school to employment and / or university.
More students who manage to stay in school are more young people who will have opportunities to continue their studies, develop their life plan and get a job in something that generates social mobility and the possibility of contributing to the economic and social development of the country.
In this process of activating more and better opportunities for young people, it is fundamental to involve them in the process. We can not continue with a centrist adult vision and expect them to empower themselves with the process.
When we offer more possibilities of participation to the young people, they take advantage of them actively. Committing ourselves as a country, government, organization, company and individuals to create a more just, inclusive society, and opportunities for quality of study, employment and positive recreation for young people, is the most important task and that will generate more positive return to youth well-being, socially and economically of the country.
- In commemoration of International Youth Day
Executive Director of Fundación Acción Joven