Remarks by Reed Aeschliman, Deputy Mission Director, USAID/Philippines, Mindanao Youth for Development Program Mass Graduation

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

[As Prepared]

Acknowledgements: [TBC] Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar; Members of the Isabela City Out-of-School Youth Development Alliance; Young graduates of the MYDev-supported ALS and technical skills training here in Isabela City; Ladies and Gentlemen.

Buenas dias! (Good morning!)

I am honored to join you on this day, which marks the beginning of new opportunities for these young graduates seated before me.

Today’s ceremony demonstrates the U.S. Government’s ongoing commitment to help bring peace and stability in Mindanao. Graduates, we have no doubt that you will shape a more stable and prosperous future for the Philippines.

Half of the world’s population is now under the age of 30, making today’s youth the largest generation in history! In the Philippines, the youth constitute almost a third of the total population. Those who do not finish high school or do not possess relevant training are not readily employable, leaving them vulnerable to the pitfalls of conflict and poverty.

Here in Zamboanga Peninsula, this threat is all too real. More than 22 percent of youth are out-of-school. Poor access to education, illiteracy, unemployment, and weak representation in local and national institutions block youth from productively joining their community.

This is why we, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development, and in partnership with local Philippine leaders, invest in youth, providing empowering opportunities that can transform lives and communities.

I’d like to recognize the city government for championing this partnership. With the support of Department of Education, TESDA, and other Philippine Government agencies, more than 2,300 out-of-school youth can participate in alternative learning opportunities including continuing education programs and workforce and community development activities.

Throughout Mindanao, we will engage 19,000 out-of-school youth in the next four years, developing their education competencies, livelihood capacities, and life and leadership skills. With the support of the business community, the program will also link the youth to meaningful job opportunities.

To the graduates - you have the power to drive inclusive growth, promote good governance and advance prosperity and stability in your communities. I urge you to take advantage of the opportunities that await. Make your voices heard and make a difference. This will allow you to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of the people around you, wherever you may be.

U.S. President Barack Obama recognizes the extraordinary times and extraordinary opportunities the youth are confronted with amidst conflict. He said and I quote, “I see the opportunities in the faces of young people everywhere who can access the entire world with the click of a button, and who are eager to join the cause of eradicating extreme poverty, and combating climate change, starting businesses, expanding freedom, and leaving behind the old ideological battles of the past…We look to the future not with fear, but with hope. And we remain convinced that we can deliver a more peaceful, prosperous and just world to the next generation.”

Congratulations to our graduates, and everyone here today. Let us continue to work together and support our youth to become the leaders of development, towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Muchisimas Gracias! (Thank you very much)

Issuing Country