Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 20th, 2019

The young population and upcoming challenges of the Afghan government

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The young population and upcoming challenges  of the Afghan government

Population is one of the most important factors and variables that must be considered in macroeconomic, social and political programs in national level. Undoubtedly, any long-term planning for the country without considering such important variable, will not only lead to failure, but also cause the wastage of national resources. With regard to the age pyramid and demographic structure of the country, the top national policy makers and politicians are trying to predict the challenges that may take place in the coming years and prepare themselves to tackle the problems emanating from increase and decrease of population.  The quantity and optimal distribution of the population in the country and, more importantly, population growth are one of the indicators that influence the process of sustainable development. Contrary to traditional responsibility of governments that were limited to maintaining the public security and fight against foreign enemies but in the current era, these tasks were directed towards more accountability for the quantitative and qualitative improvement of life and responding to demographic and general accelerated needs.
According to the central statistics office, the total population of the country in 2018 was estimated to be 31.6 million of which approximately 16.1 million are males and about 15.5 million are females. In another division, about 22.6 million people (71.5%) are rural, 7.5 million (23.7%) are urban and 1.5 million (4.8%) are nomadic populations. Age-wise,   Afghanistan is one of the youngest countries in the world. According to the age pyramid of Afghanistan, the number of population between 0 and 30 years old are about 25 million which forms 70.9 % of the whole population. Regarding global birthrate ranking, Afghanistan is on the 11th highest birthrate in the world, and also the highest birth rate in non-African countries. The first country with the highest birth rate is Niger, a western African country, (at 51.26 births per 1,000 people) but the country with the lowest birth rate is Monaco, at 6.72 births per thousand comparing to Afghanistan has roughly 40 births/1,000 population.
Anyway, young population has both pros and cons; young population has the potential to change their lives and ultimately change a nation provided that directed in a right way; otherwise it is also possible to act as a threat in absence of logical program, especially educational program. In fact, Education is the first important program towards development process of countries; almost all developed countries acquired their advancement, especially the development of their productive human power from good quality education. That is why the advanced countries make a lot of investments in education because they know that the future of their countries depends on education and training of high quality human resources.  As Afghanistan has been suffering from internal and external imposed war, many of the infrastructure and facilities, that a country needs to progress, has been totally destroyed. One of these issues that originate from population growth is increase in the number of students at the schools and universities. As a result, a large amount of government budget should be deducted from other parts so as to provide education and education facilities.
So, the overgrowth of one sector interrupts the growth of other sectors. As It is not possible to handle unlimited programs with limited resource unless deduct from the share of other parts. In 2018 the budget for ministry of education was about 37.5 billion Afghanis while there are 17.5 thousand schools and nearly 196 thousand teachers nationwide. Given the mentioned number of schools and teachers, the allocated budget is extremely low. The average salary of a teacher in Afghanistan is around a 100$ per month in comparison to the salaries paid to teachers in advanced countries such Japan is around 7500$. In these circumstances, the capital investment should be appropriately proportional to the increase of students in all scientific and educational centers, or the contribution share of students need to decreases; in both cases it imposes great economic and social losses on financial and human capital, and then on social capital.
The other issue that originates from increase of population is unemployment; today unemployment is one of the great social problems in the world, and the massive increase in population directly links to this social problem. Considering the demographic trends in Afghanistan, we can say there will be a large number of job seekers entering the labor market in the coming years. If we do not make proper plans and policies towards these groups, we will see a large number of unemployed people in the near future. And it can become one of the fundamental constraints of the state. The issue of youth unemployment should not be viewed only from the economic point of view. Usually youths have more political and social expectations that due to the lack of political development and impossibility for fulfillment of these demands provide an enabling environment for unemployment crisis, adherence to radical groups and eventually cause instability to the country. In terms of social pathology, unemployment which results from a disequilibrium between population growth and investment is the source of many social anomalies
Although the relationship between abnormalities such as poverty, prostitution, divorce, theft, robbery, insecurity, drug trafficking, psychological, suicide, and terrorist operations requires a separate paper, but the comparative study of the above indicators with population overgrowth and unemployment in developing countries , including Afghanistan has been confirmed. It is also confirmed that there is close link between high birthrate and high death rate. Therefore, the government must take necessary measures address the needs of the young population; otherwise, we may face numeral challenges in the future which will be beyond the control of the government.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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