The Troubles of Youth In Palestine

The youth of Palestine, and particularly the Jordan Valley, have become increasingly marginalized due to poor education and social integration efforts

I have been very busy lately with several projects that I am working on, so I have been unable to publish much lately.  In addition to a guest post later today, I will quickly add this tidbit about the marginalization of Palestinian youth from a report I am writing.  Look for NFAM to continue regular posting soon.

Palestinian youth, since the First Intifada, have played an important role in Palestinian culture.  During the Intifada, the shebab of Palestine caught international attention as the fought for international recognition of the basic rights of the Palestinian people.  However, after the Oslo Accords of 1993, the youth of Palestine have been increasingly marginalized.  Indeed, the current generation of youth has been particularly, and negatively, effected by the brutality of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the construction of the Apartheid wall and the continuation of the Israeli occupation.  70% of the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is under the age of 29 while 29.25% of the entire population is between the ages of 15-29[1] – a percentage that is expected to dramatically increased over the next 30 years.[2]

[tweetmeme] With so much demographic weight focused on youth, it is important to ensure the vitality of this group in order to protect the future of the country.  Unfortunately, the continued Israeli occupation has led to an unabated process of youth marginalization, which has led to some troubling warning signs for the future.  29% of Palestinian youths drop out of school before completing high school while only 8% of men and 10% of women continue to earn a college degree.  Unemployment among this same group is soaring at 32.2% and the 20-24 age group is particularly stunted, suffering from unemployment rates of over 35%.  Furthermore, only 46.7% of Palestinian youths are connected to the internet, with far more men than women connecting.  This schism in internet usage between men and women is also seen in computer, email and cell phone usage.[3]

A recent study by Sharek found that 81% of Palestinian youth are depressed.[4] A high feeling of insecurity among 54% of those youth highlights part of the psychological effects of the ongoing political situation on young people. Smoking is also very common among young people, 20.5% youth in the West Bank smoke.[5] As well as these social and health problems, youth also lack access to adequate education and facilities. Many youth also complain that the current curriculum does not give them the skills and knowledge needed for the workplace.[6] There is also a fundamental lack of awareness surrounding health issues, including reproductive health and the risks of smoking.  Furthermore, 39% of Palestinian youths stated that they are extremely depressed, an ailment that is statistically linked to feeling unable to control circumstances in one’s life as well as a general feeling of hopelessness and uselessness,[7] characteristics that Palestinian youth often ascribe to themselves.[8]

Photo from Chris, 2010


[1] US Census Bureau International Database.

[2] Palestinian Census Bureau of Statistics.

[4] Sharek Youth Forum 2008 ‘The Youth Talk: Perceptions of the Palestinian youth on their living conditions’

[6] Voices of Youth: Palestine

[8] Voices of the Youth: Palestine. 2006 an assessment in partnership with the World Bank.


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2 thoughts on “The Troubles of Youth In Palestine

  1. I find the depression piece very disturbing..

    Is there a lack of funding for education at all levels or just higher education, what about teachers education?

    You said unemployment was high but are there available jobs and do you need higher education to attain them?

    All of this sounds a little like the shift of American children and I find it scary.. American kids are more depressed with higher drop out rates and greater levels of unemployment.. And we aren’t occupied by any foreign nation or regime.

    Keep up the good work out there team!
    Lindsay

  2. There are a couple of organizations actively working to combat the downward trends in education and employment. I’m most familiar with injaz palestine (http://www.injazalarab.org/en) just because I used to work for their parent org. They’ve got a great director over there and they’ve actually had to bring in curriculum materials to Gaza through the tunnels, amazingly.

    Also another great site for youth education stats: shababinclusion.org, the brookings/dubai school of gov’t research project on youth in the Arab world.

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