News - Youth in Nation Development: A Challenge

By Karina Lei C. Retalado

“Train a child in the way that he should be…”

                The Philippines, with a total land area of 298,170 km2, is home to 92,681,453 people giving us a picture of 311 persons residing per square kilometers.

                With the ballooning population, the Philippines can take pride on its workforce of 35.9 million people, which is equivalent to 62% of the country’s population (with ages from 15 to 64 years old), considering that population is the most important resource and the measure of strength of a nation. However, it may also become a burden to the nation if the desired quality of life cannot be sustained due to imbalance between population size, growth, distribution and available resources.

                In the context of population and its development, there are critical issues that need to be addressed such as poverty (30%) and family well-being, unemployment (7.3%) and underemployment (18.1%).  On the other hand, the youth who are the backbone of the nation and future pillars of the country (comprising 20.7 M in 2007 or one-third of the total population),  are left unattended and unheard.

                Who are the Filipino youth?

                The wonders of the Filipino youth:  hard-working, friendly, charitable, enthusiastic, hospitable, loving and patriotic.  They are the warriors ready to risk their lives.  According to a study, these youth have as their main targets in life to have a good marriage and family life, to live “big”, be risk takers, but unwilling to compromise.  They are also the generation prone to indulge in premarital sex that leads to problems of teenage pregnancy, abortion and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.  From the study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute, 26% of the youth population engage in pre-marital sex.  A total of 3.6 million teenagers got pregnant, 92% of them said the pregnancy was unplanned, and 78% confessed they did not even use contraceptives the first time they had sex.  Indeed, many youth are clueless that even on a single intercourse, they could wind up pregnant.

                Although the essence of a woman is being able to bear and nurse a child to fulfill God’s plan for procreation, teenage pregnancy is untimely and risky.  Common risks include malnutrition, inadequate prenatal care, abortion and fetal deaths.  Statistics from DOH shows that fetal deaths are more likely to happen on young mothers because their reproductive system is not yet fully developed.

                What could be done to address the gap?

                Providing skills and leadership training to the youth.  The youth are strong and they can lead, but simply do not know how.  They lack basic skills and knowledge.  Vocational training is a way to develop and enhance their skills.  The training can be for out-of-school youth.  It can also be integrated in one of the subjects in the school’s general curriculum.  The Local Government Unit (LGU) and the Barangay LGU can work hand-in-hand to provide training for the youth, which can start at the barangay level.

                Proper mentoring and role modeling.  Youth live what they learn as right and true.  If they grow up with role models doing bad that seems to be right in their eyes, the youth will sooner or later do bad for it is what they saw as right and true.  The youth must be exposed to the right way of living, the right governance and clean politics. 

                Appropriating corresponding budget.  Yes, there are many programs to catch the youth’s attention and get them involved in community programs and projects, but these cannot be done without enough funding from the government.  Seemingly, the youth get the least attention; hence, there is less investment on them for the future.  One must bear in mind that the youth are the next leaders, pillars and hope of the nation.

                Involving the youth in policy-making.  Some may say that the youth are not ready to witness the challenges in policy-making, but it is a big step to let them see the political world.  Contrary to what others say that the youth are not capable of making sound decisions, let it be noted that in unity, they have strength.  Hear the voices of the youth and achieve true unity. Provide an avenue for them to exercise their right. Consult them and let them take part in decision-making.

                Educate the youth on family well-being.  These youth must be educated on reproductive health and family planning.  They need to know that family well-being is having the right number of children, and that the larger the family size, the more resources are required, the greater the consumption and the emotional nurturance of every child.  According to Thomas Malthus on his essay “The Principles of Population as it Affects the Future of the Society”, if the population will remain unchecked, it will double in size every 25 years geometrically (as 4, 8, 16, 32) while food production will grow in arithmetic rate considering that food production grows in a much slower rate (as 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on).  This means, the rapid increase in population, unless prevented will lead to scarcity of resources and famine, considering that food production grows in a much slower rate.

                Information dissemination.  There is a need for a massive information drive on reproductive health among Filipinos, especially the youth, for a better understanding, acceptance, application and practice.

                There may be countless ways to grab development with these dedicated buds at hand, but it all boils down to one thing:  The kind of family defines the kind of community, and the kind of community shapes the future of our dear country.  If we desire development for this nation, then we must start investing now by training, educating, molding and involving the youth in nation development.  Instill Christian values which are first learned at home and reinforced by the church, school and community.  Most likely, one will live with the values he grew up with. The youth who were once untapped will eventually become partners in nation development and agents of change.


… and when the child is old, he will not turn away from it.” PROVERS 22:6



KARINA LEI C. RETALADO is a third year high school student from Digos City National Highschool, Region XI.  She is the THIRD PLACE WINNER of the  2008 National Essay Writing Contest on Population and Development for the Youth, organized by the Bureau of Secondary Education-Department of Education, and sponsored by the Philippine Center for Population and Development, Inc.