Youth Service Programs: A Study of Promising Models in International Development

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This study is intended to provide policy makers and program planners interested in youth service programs in developing countries with a short history of the evolution of youth service in different regions, together with four program models based on program goals and the needs of specific cohorts of youth: 1. In-school service learning for secondary school students 2. Mandatory community service for university graduates 3. Population-wide national youth service programs 4. Service programs for out-of-school unemployed youth Each of the four program models is illustrated by a short program brief. Featured programs include Aprendezaje e Servicio Solidario in Argentina, the Ghana National Service Scheme, the Israeli National Youth Service, the Ruwwad Palestinian Youth Empowerment Program, and the Jovenes Constructores de la Communidad (JCC) Program in Mexico. The study also includes an annotated list of recommended resources on youth service and international development. Among the strategies typically used for youth development, particularly in relation to workforce development, service is perhaps the most overlooked. Embarking on a national youth service program can be a challenging endeavor, requiring careful planning, the engagement of multiple stakeholders, and sustainable funding support, but the rewards of service programs far outweigh their risks. Young people everywhere are highly energized and eager to take advantage of the opportunity to serve their country and their communities. The youth service experience has proven an effective deterrent to the alienation of youth from their societies, offering youth positive opportunity for community engagement. Service programs also have been an effective vehicle for promoting nation building and helping countries harness the resources and energy of young people to address urgent development needs.


Ron Israel, Sarah Nogueira-Sanca

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