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Youth ‘Face Uncertain Future,’ World Bank Says

Cambodia lacks appropriate human resources for its youth, due to the country’s poor development, a World Bank representative said Thursday.

“Studies show that the young people in Cambodia face an uncertain future,” Nisha Agrawal, country manager of the World Bank, said. “They are faced with hopelessness, and this loss of hope resulted from scarce work opportunities.”

The Bank’s World Development Report for 2007 highlighted problems faced by youth in developing countries.

A number of Cambodian youth have fallen into drugs, theft, pick-pocketing and gang membership, Agrawal said.

“With 70 percent of the population under the age of 30 years old, it is an issue," she said.

Minister of Education Kol Pheng said the report unfairly compared Cambodia with other countries and that comparisons should be made within context.

“Comparing one country to another is not fair,” he said. “We cannot compare a bananas' sweetness to honey, and a mangoes' sweetness to cherries and apples. We are comparing [our past performance] to ourselves.”

Negative talk about the youth only discourages them, he said.

“If we reveal pessimism about the younger generation, what they see is societies being bleak,” he said, “so there is no light, no exit, [and] our societies cannot be corrected.”

The problems with Cambodia’s youth could be helped by better employment opportunities, Chin Mardy, director of the Cambodia Youth Development Organization, said.