Today is Africa Day, a day to celebrate the continent’s culture, history and future. As part of our Protecting the Next Generation project, the Guttmacher Institute partnered with nine African institutions to speak with 20,000 young people in four Sub-Saharan countries. We asked them about their concerns and their hopes for the future in terms of their health, education and employment.

Most young Africans told us that they are optimistic. While young people in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda face enormous obstacles—including anxiety over getting enough to eat and protecting themselves from illness—they also aspire to stay in school, stay healthy and achieve their goals.

“I would like to be a teacher or a health care worker or a financial technician. I want a job that will help me to provide for my needs,” said a young person in Burkina Faso, where more than half of young people are not in school, many because they cannot afford the fees.

“I would like to be a nurse…so that I may be able to assist my relatives instead of spending a lot of money in hospitals,” said an adolescent in Malawi, one of the countries hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Young Africans are poised and eager to take an active role in improving their own lives and the future of their countries. Any investment in the continent should focus first and foremost on the needs of young people.

Click here for more information on:

Young people and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa

The sexual and reproductive health of young people in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda

The sexual and reproductive lives of adolescents in Burkina Faso (in French), qualitative and quantitative evidence