Giving youth a voice: Bangladesh youth survey 2011
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Based on national level data, children and youth have accounted for approximately 65.7 per cent of the population in 2001. Among those, 26.3 per cent are youth between the age group 15 and 30 (based on GOB/ 10 BANGLADESH YOUTH SURVEY 2011 Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics 2003). The Bangladesh Youth Survey (BYS) was conducted among 6,575 young persons across all 64 districts and on a representational basis. The gender proportion was nearly half and half (3296 men and 3279 women) and a rural - urban proportion was 70 to 30. Among the latter, 4.7 per cent of the sample was conducted in city corporations, as we thought that this might provide interesting insights into social change at these localities. Our analyses of the BYS data base is mainly based on gender, locality (and district), age groups, and on income groups, following self-reported income (see below). The core demographic data indicate that among the youth, the majority of the women have already been married (64 per cent), as opposed to only 28 per cent among the men. Women marry much earlier, while the majority of the 19/20 year old women were already married, this proportion was only reached among the 25/26 year old men. Similarly, more than half of the 18 year old women already had their first child, while this proportion was only 18 per cent among men. At the same time, these ages differ significantly from what youth consider as ideal (see below). Their monthly household incomes range from 2500 to 150,000 Taka. When forming quintiles for our analysis, the lowest income group has monthly incomes of less than 5,000 Taka, the second lowest group of 5000 to 7,500 Taka, and the middle income group of 7,500 to 10,000 Taka. For the two highest income groups we have selected 15,000 Taka as the demarcation line between higher and highest income groups. In regard to education, currently 42 per cent of the men and 27.8 of the women were still enrolled. On the other hand, 5.6 per cent have never been to school, and an additional 5 per cent have not reached class V. Among all youth, 27 per cent have not studied in class 8 and more than 40 per cent have not reached class 10. Locational disparities for those who never attended school are astonishingly low and are only slightly lower in rural areas (5.8 per cent, as compared to 5.3 per cent in urban areas and 5.5 per cent in city corporations). There is a promising trend that rates of non-attendance have declined considerably over the past decade within primary education, from more than 10 per cent among the older group to about 5 per cent among the youngest group. Similarly, while only 60 per cent among the older group had reached class VIII this proportion has increased significantly over the past 15 years, to more than 80 per cent. Yet, while annual rates of about 1.3 per cent are promisingly high, these rates are not likely to increase in a linear mode. Overall, a considerably high share of youth from lower income groups (and hard to reach ones) has remained out of school, until today. Thus, a social analysis based on (self reported) incomes gives rise to serious concerns. Among the lowest two income quintiles rates of ‘never-attendance’ stood at 10.4 and 8.1 per cent, respectively. Integration into the labour market is quite low, and characterised by vast gender disparities. Overall, only 32.4 per cent of all youth in the BYS sample have any experience of work, whether paid or unpaid. Currently, only 27.6 per cent are engaged in paid work or employment (a total of 1,820 persons). At the same time, only 3 per cent classified themselves as unemployed (in addition to 5 per cent where no answer was given). Gender disparities are highly pronounced, while it is about 4 per cent among men it is merely 2 per cent among women. Among the latter, an extremely large group has classified themselves as housewives. As marriage takes place at a rather early age this is also the case among women of younger age groups. At the same time, disparities at different localities are low, but there is, as expected, a strong pattern according to age groups. Among the youngest age group (15 to 20) less than 20 per cent are currently engaged in regular work or employment but rates increase to nearly 45 per cent for the oldest age group (25-30). At the same time, integration into the labour market takes place at extremely early ages for many youth. In a few districts 35 to 50 per cent have started work before reaching the age of 15. When asked for job preferences, the public Giving Youth A Voice - Bangladesh Youth Survey 2011 11 sector has an extremely high attraction (for more than 50 per cent). At the same time, this decreases quite substantially along age groups, from more than 60 per cent to less than 30 per cent. For getting a job, families play a crucial role, particularly for younger groups, whereas friends as mediators are more important among older youth and in city corporations. Labour migration is also an option for many, both men and women. Destinations are partly Dhaka or elsewhere in Bangladesh, and for men, the Arab region is a vital option. Participation in vocational training has remained quite low, at an average of 7 per cent only. This share is considerably higher among men (at 8.3 versus 5.6 per cent) and in city corporations (10.9 per cent, versus 8.5 and 6.1 per cent in other urban and rural areas). Vocational training is highest among the 20-25 age group (9.1 per cent), and this primarily reflects that average ages of participating in these trainings are 17 to 22. Among lower income groups, vocational training is less frequent (5.3 per cent). Yet, this might be a circular conclusion, as those who have undergone vocational trainings are likely to fall into higher income groups. When assessing vocational training policies, a strong feed back was the need to integrate vocational training and placements in companies. When defining democracy, a wide majority stated that elections are a core parameter. At the same time, there are substantial gaps in getting registered as voters. Overall, a majority of more than 70 per cent of all eligible youth (18-30) was registered as voters, and registration was even higher among women (nearly 74 versus 69 per cent, respectively). Among the 18 to 20 year-olds the majority was not yet registered, and even among those aged 21 only about two thirds were registered, although they could have participated in the last election. While gender disparities are quite low, regional disparities are much more pronounced. When assessing the performance of core public “institutions”, there is strong support for the military and local government institutions, whereas dissatisfaction is highest with the police and Members of Parliament (MPs). In regard to corruption perception, again the police and the judiciary are perceived as the two most corrupt entities. Regarding crime, the top five crimes are murder, drug and alcohol abuse, dowry and personal property crimes, and all of these are reported as “very severe” by more than 80 per cent. The perception of crime also has a strong gender pattern. Crimes such as eve-teasing, dowry, and sexual violence are more important for women. When asked about the major sources of information regarding the state, youth have pointed out the importance of newspaper and TV news. When asked about their satisfaction with the performance of the current and previous governments, the two politically elected governments, both the current Awami League and the past BNP, were ranked lower than the last care taker government (CTG). In regard to the recent developments for “Digital Bangladesh” there is quite a mixed picture. On the one hand, there are rather promising developments in regard to the availability of mobile phones. This has spread quite rapidly to about 85 per cent of all youth, a substantial increase even when compared to our last year’s Governance Barometer Survey (at 70 per cent) or the British Council’s “Next Generation” (73 per cent). Regional disparities, as well as social ones, have considerably declined. At the same time, actual utilisation is extremely low, and many young people re-charge their phones with less than 150 Taka per month. In addition, mobile phones are often mainly used for giving each other “missed calls”. At the same time, computer utilisation and internet utilisation have remained dismally low, and highly socially exclusive as they are mainly used by higher income groups only. As only less than 10 per cent of youth utilise these means, we would overall strongly question the notion of a “digital generation”, and rather characterise them as “disconnected youth”. Bangladeshi youth have a strong connectivity to their families and communities. Families are in charge of deciding about most aspects of life, including the selection of a spouse. When in need, families rather than friends or anyone else are approached. When asked about life cycle planning, there are vast disparities 12 BANGLADESH YOUTH SURVEY 2011 between actual ages and what youth consider as ideal. For completing their education and getting married, both are given at about 25, and slightly lower for women. For asking about their leisure activities, we provided a list of fourteen activities, including reading books and newspapers, as well as “religious activities”. While many activities, other than sports, had a high level of agreement the ranking that was done as a second step showed a highly concentrated pattern. Religion and reading novels had an amasingly high level of priority, irrespective of gender and other parameters. For a better understanding of young people’s ideas about social change, we have asked them about the acceptance of a few controversial issues. While gender equality, working women, friendship with the opposite gender, and family planning seem to have a general consensus, some others face an extremely strong opposition. The latter include divorce and marriage without the consent of the parents. This was also confirmed when asking them how independent they felt in terms of decision making. Most young people felt quite independent in regard to decisions about choosing employment, how to spend money, choosing friends or exercising mobility. On the other hand, choosing their future spouse showed the highest level of dependence. When asked about the major challenges for young people, a large number of answers from the open ended question concentrated on unemployment, illiteracy, and lack of money and poverty. At the same time, the ranking of challenges has confirmed this, in addition to concerns about maintaing good health and getting quality education. From this perspective it is of no surprise that when asked about what the state could do to support young people, a large majority (of more than 5,000 among the 6,575 respondents) opted for “improve the quality of education” as a first priority. Other aspects were to create more job opportunites for the youth, although this was mainly given as a second priority.