Thursday, April 1, 2010

Development Assets of Yemeni Youth

ave the Children (SC) has been working in Yemen since 1963 with programming in education, health, child protection and civil society. In 2008, SC was awarded a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for a Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), which operates in the governorates of Sa'ana, Ibb, Aden and Abyan.

In late 2008 to early 2009, I was involved in an assessment to better understand how youth in Yemen are fairing personally and socially, which would help inform the programming in the YEP program. One of the measures we used to assess how youth were doing was the well regarded Search Institute's Developmental Assets Profile (DAP).

The DAP consists of 58 questions that comprise two domains, Internal and External Assets. The Internal Assets domain is comprise of four sub-scales: Support, Empowerment, Boundaries & Expectations, and Constructive Use of Time. The External Assets domain is also comprised of four sub-scales: Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity.

It took about 3 months to adapt the tool to the Yemen context. Adapting the DAP involved initial translation from a Egyptian Arabic version (from a another project) by Yemen project staff, pilot-testing this version with youth via individual interviews and focus group discussion which highlighted issues and wording that required further refinement. Once we had an Arabic version that was adapted for youth in Yemen, a pilot-test was conducted with youth who completed the entire DAP. The results were analyzed for internal reliability (based on Alpha reliability) and temporal stability over a 1-week period of time (Pearson correlation). The internal and temporal reliability test were satifactory, a random sample of 600 youth in the four governorates were interviewed in their homes away from parents and siblings as much as possible. Each question is answered by youth using a scale ranging from "not at all" (=0) to a high of "almost always" (=3) regarding the presence of various situations and conditions in their life in the previous 3 months. The scores are totaled and the developmental assets are categorized as low, fair, good, or excellent.

The graph below present the results, average scores, for each of the four sub-scales that comprise External and Internal Assets. The average scores for each sub-scale has been connected with a line to provide a profile.

Several findings are quickly apparent about how Yemeni youth are fairing personally and socially. First, oveall, Yemeni youth have few constructive opportunities as indicated by the sub-scale Constructive Use of Time having the lowest scores regardless of location. Second, where a youth lives influences their level of developmental assts as show by the substantial differences on these sub-scales depending on which governorate the youth lives (each of the lines represents a governorate). Third, that the Yemeni youth are fairing well on Internal Assets but not so well on External Assets.

The implications of these findings for programming are that youth need more constructive opportunities and outlets. Currently, there are few opportunites in schools, neighborhoods or communities for youth to be involved in structured activities such as sports, music, mentoring, drop-in centers, social groups, or camps. This is particulary the case for youth living in the interior (Sana'a and Ibb), whereas youth living along the coast are more likely to be involved in activities such as boating or fishing. Being involved in constructive activities has been shown to improve empowerment through increasing self-esteem, providing a sense of belonging, developing cognitive, physical and social skills, enhancing a sense of self-worth, and developing relationships.

Although not shown in the graph, further analysis of the DAP shows that Yemeni youth reported low scores for schooling and neighborhood safety. For schooling, these youth did not feel that the schools they attend enforce rules fairly, cares about them, or encourages them to do their best. Thus, empowering youth requires improving the quality of schools. For neigborhood safety, basically, youth felt that neighbors do not help watch out for them, which means working with neighbors to also empower youth in Yemen.

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