Exploring Youth Development in Ethiopia: An Alternative Strength-Based Perspective

  • Belay Tefera
  • Yekoyealem Desie


Ethiopia is a country where young people account for the larger proportion
compared to those in the other cohorts. Enhancing the capacity of the youth
would, therefore, entail nurturing for this nation. The approach followed in
this nurturing process is obviously as important as the act of nurturing itself
Traditionally, youth have been seen as problems to be managed. Studies have
also concentrated on documenting their liabilities. Recently, however, youth
are conceived as resources to be cultivated and upgraded, and the focus is
on promoting competencies. This study examined Ethiopian youth from a
strength- based perspective with triple objectives: 1) portrayal of young people
in scientific literature, 2) youth participation over historical periods, and 3)
youths' developmental assets profile. Methods and approaches of the study
involved review of literature on Ethiopian youth, analysis of youth-related
documents (by governmental and non-government organisations) to explore
youth participation, and primary data to examine developmental assets profile
of the youth. The primary data were collected from a sample of 461 youths in
Addis Ababa through the Developmental Assets Profile questionnaire. Findings
from critical reviews of literature indicated that young people in Ethiopia are
understood only from a deficit perspective. Studies have attempted to describe
the vulnerabilities, problems, and concerns of young people rather than their strengths. However, a cursory inspection of other reports yielded that the youth were not only the pioneer of change in Ethiopia but have actively involved in the socio-economic and political transformations of the nation above and beyond their vulnerabilities. The data obtained through the Developmental Assets Profile measure have also suggested that the youth are indeed endowed with a number of developmental assets and these assets are significantly better for females than they are for males.

Key-words: Ethiopian youth, Ethiopian adolescents, developmental assets, positive youth development, youth participation.


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eISSN: 0378-0813