Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Voice of Youth from Every Continent; a UNESCO Courier International Survey

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Voice of Youth from Every Continent; a UNESCO Courier International Survey

Article excerpt

THE outcome of any survey, clearly, is largely predetermined by the nature of the questions asked. In presenting the results, we have opted for a "global" approach in recording the 1,000 replies without reference to the inherent differences of each country. Hence there are big differences in the priority given to different problems.

For example, young people in the Socialist countries stated that there is no unemployment in their countries and that those without educational qualifications have an equal right to work. This necessarily affected their replies to several other questions, including their overwhelming choice of peace (in answer to the first question), whereas young people from other parts of Europe are primarily preoccupied with questions of work, unemployment, the future.

Analysis of the replies leads to the following conclusions.

1. What is the problem of most concern to all young people today?

Many did not answer this question. Of those who did so, 50% chose problems of war and peace, 30% unemployment and work, 10% the future, and 10% various other problems including drugs, hunger and the quality of life.

2. Which of the following problems do you think are most important?

Money, the future, sex education, studies and educational guidance, leisure activities, work, fashion, politics, international problems, social problems, scientific and technological progress, relations with adults, relations of young people among themselves, values.

The most widely chosen top-priority problem was that of the future (57%)--the young people's own future. In second place came studies, a problem directly related to the first, followed by values, social problems and money. The relations of young people among themselves, progress, politics, relations with adults, sex education and fashion were far down the field. Close scrutiny of the answers to this question casts doubt on the priority given to problems of peace and disarmament in the replies to the first question.

3. International problems. Which of those listed here do you think are most important and why? Aid to developing countries, getting to know young people in other countries, the destruction of nuclear arsenals, the eradication of racism, the war on hunger, the need for contacts with other countries, world peace, friendship between peoples.

85% of the votes went to world peace. This choice was closely followed (and qualified) by the war on hunger, the destruction of nuclear arsenals, the eradication of racism, and aid to developing countries. But the desire to get to know young people in other countries, the need for contacts and friendship between peoples seemed to be considered far less important.

4. Politics. What does the word politics mean to you? Are you willing to take part in public life? If so, how?

Politics seems to attract little interest. 30% of those polled did not answer this question and only 2 out of 1,000 declared that they held serious political opinions. 24% considered politics to be useless if not dangerous, 21% considered it to be the product of an ideology without specifying which, 16% gave a stereotyped definition, 2% gave answers that were beside the point, and only 7% thought politics could be useful.

The possibility of taking part in public life aroused even more significant reactions: 50% did not reply, 17% categorically replied no, and 33% replied by a "yes, but..." which they clearly explained: yes, they wanted to take part, but through teaching, help to individuals or countries, medical and social actions, voting, and a desire to "reconstruct".

5. Studies and educational guidance. Do you think it is possible to find solutions to these problems: world illiteracy, the democratization of education, educational and vocational guidance?

Young people think that solutions to these problems can be found. …

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