Contributions of Youth Centers to the Development of Young People in Ethiopia
There has been a global paradigm shift in conceptualizing how best young persons can be assisted from a conventional deficit-based approach of targeting youth to a more enabling approach of promoting their strengths and competencies. Establishment of youth centers was one such global initiative meant to catalyze positive youth development through supervised and youth-friendly services. In recognition of this, several youth centers have been established in Ethiopia in the last few decades. This research was thus conducted to examine contributions of these centers to the development of young people. Data were collected through questionnaire from a sample of 2,165 participants (service providers and service users) and observation of 94 youth centers drawn from all regions of the country. Findings indicated that the contributions of youth centers were generally minimal in terms of promoting overall positive youth development. Some evidence even showed that youth centers could serve as a platform for acquiring undesirable behaviors among the youth mainly because supervisory and follow up services were not evident. While expanding establishment of youth centers is indeed commendable to ensure access to the greater majority of youth, the need to improve service quality, however, is a priority concern for the relevant actors.
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