State of the Field Reports: USAID YOUTH RESEARCH, EVALUATION, AND LEARNING PROJECT

STATE OF THE FIELD REPORT: EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE IN YOUTH EDUCATION IN CRISIS AND CONFLICT 

This paper, commissioned by USAID’s Office of Education in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and the Environment (USAID/E3/ED), provides a summary of the latest research on youth education in crisis- and conflict-affected settings. First, it describes the unique situation of youth in crisis- and conflict- affected environments. It then discusses the role of education and youth engagement in these contexts. An analysis of the trends in the field to increase positive youth outcomes is also included. Next, the paper presents a framework for investigating the impact of interventions focused on youth outcomes,1 as well as evidence from the research. Lastly, areas in need of further investigation are identified in order to assist USAID/E3/ED in setting priorities for future research and evaluation activities.

USAID/E3/ED will use this information to create a research and evaluation agenda focused on youth that underscores USAID Education Strategy Goal 3: “Increased equitable access for 15 million learners in environments affected by crisis and conflict by 2015.” It is hoped that this agenda will contribute to a growing evidence base for the design of future USAID youth education programs in crisis- and conflict- affected environments, and will also guide USAID Missions in designing their evaluations of such programs. USAID has made great strides toward ensuring that its programs are based on strong evidence through publication of its recent Project Design Guidance and Evaluation Policy, which discuss the importance of incorporating strong monitoring and evaluation techniques into program design (USAID, 2011d).

USAID also intends to use this research and evaluation agenda in coordination with other donors, governments, practitioners, and youth stakeholders to build up an evidence base regarding what works in youth education in crisis- and conflict-affected environments. In addition, two other briefing papers have been created on the topics of youth workforce development programming and holistic, cross-sectoral youth development (USAID, 2013a & b). 

STATE OF THE FIELD REPORT: EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE IN YOUTH WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT 

This paper, commissioned by USAID’s Office of Education in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and the Environment (USAID/E3/ED), provides information on the latest research and evaluation of workforce development programming for youth.1 While the focus is on work done in developing countries, results from a handful of particularly relevant studies in the United States are also included. First, the paper presents a framework for guiding the interpretation of the impact that workforce development has on youth outcomes.2 An analysis of the trends in the field that increase positive youth employment outcomes is also included. Next, the paper provides the latest evidence of what works in achieving these outcomes, along with a discussion of gap areas in need of further investigation. Finally, conclusions designed to assist USAID/E3/ED in setting priorities for future research and evaluation efforts are presented.

USAID/E3/ED will use this information to create a youth-focused research and evaluation agenda in support of the USAID Education Strategy Goal 2: “Improved ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to produce a workforce with relevant skills to support country development goals by 2015.” This agenda will inform the design of future USAID workforce development programs based on evidence, and will also guide USAID Missions in designing their evaluations of youth workforce development programs. USAID has made great strides toward ensuring that its programs are based on strong evidence through publication of its recent Project Design Guidance and Evaluation Policy, which discuss the importance of incorporating strong monitoring and evaluation techniques into program design (USAID, 2011c).

USAID also intends to use this research and evaluation agenda in coordination with other donors, governments, practitioners, and youth stakeholders to build up an evidence base around youth workforce development. Two other briefing papers have also been written on the topics of youth education in conflict and crisis environments and holistic, cross-sectoral youth development (USAID, 2013a & b). 

STATE OF THE FIELD REPORT: HOLISTIC, CROSS-SECTORAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT 

The purpose of this paper is to provide information on the latest research and trends in the area of cross-sectoral and holistic strategies for positive youth development globally and particularly in developing countries. These approaches incorporate efforts that intentionally leverage resources, networks, and expertise across multiple development sectors in a collaborative fashion in order to respond to the complex development challenges of youth. They also include multiple components to address diverse needs, such as interventions providing wraparound services for youth.

This paper presents information on positive youth development frameworks and foundational principles that undergird holistic, cross-sectoral strategies, as well as other sector-specific topics. Concepts from this paper are also discussed in two other reports which have been written on the topics of youth education in conflict- and crisis-affected environments and youth workforce development (USAID, 2013a & b).

This paper addresses six key questions:

  • Why should international donors invest in positive youth development (PYD) programs?

  • What are the current trends in international youth development with regard to holistic, cross-sectoral programming?

  • What are the most relevant PYD frameworks?

  • How can a comprehensive PYD approach contribute to positive outcomes in sectors such as health, education, employment, family life, democracy and governance, crime prevention, and conflict mitigation?

  • Based on existing reports, evaluations, and meta-analyses, what is the evidence that holistic youth programs can be effective?

  • What are the gaps in research and the important next steps for policy and practice?

USAID/E3/ED will use the information presented in this report to create a youth-focused research and evaluation agenda in support of the USAID Education Strategy. This agenda will inform the design of future USAID youth development programs based on evidence, and will also guide USAID Missions in designing their evaluations of youth programs. USAID has made great strides toward ensuring that its programs are based on strong evidence through publication of its recent Project Design Guidance and Evaluation Policy, which discuss the importance of incorporating strong monitoring and evaluation techniques into program design (USAID, 2011c).

USAID also intends to use this research and evaluation agenda in coordination with other donors, governments, practitioners, and youth stakeholders to build up an evidence base around positive youth development. 

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Last updated: July 15, 2013

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