Importance of Youth and Their Civic Engagement
Youth are the national builder, agent of change, and co-constructor of society. Youth play an important role in distributing to democracy of one nation (KAS, 2012). Youth are often considered as a force of creating social change (Wan-Ying, Yong-Chan, Joo-Young, & Cheong, 2005). They are often at the forefront of intergroup conflict, where as front-line warriors in various nations, as perpetrators of Xenophobic violence against immigrants in Germany, as student agitators against alien immigrant to the Indian state of Assam (Youniss, Bales, Chrismas-Best, Diversi, McLaughlin, & Silbereisen, 2002), as the anti-corruption movements in Latin America ...view middle of the document...
Cambodian Youth and Their Civic Engagement
Youth civic engagement is particularly important in East Asia and Pacific due to its potential to promote more democratic forms, and its large youth population, which represents significant opportunity to harness young people’s potential to improve their capacity, their own future and their nation. Approximately one-third of the world’s children and young people live in East and South-East Asia (UNICEFF EAPRO, 2008).
Cambodia is a country located in South-East Asia, with a population of around 15 million people (CIA, 2014). Cambodia has the youngest population in South-East Asia. Youth aged from 15 to 24 marks up 23,7%, equivalent of 3.5 million people, according to UN World Youth Report (2007).
Like other youth, Cambodian youth are vital for the country’s development. Economic development and democracy inevitably rest mainly on young Cambodian today, which is a prospective economic and political force (Peou & Chea, 2011). However, their level of participation in civic life is low. According to United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Cambodia report (2010), only 8% of youth in the survey of 2000 youth around Cambodia had voiced their opinion to public official or non-governmental organization.
Civic engagement is defined as “working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing of combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political process, ” Thomas Erhlich (2000, Preface, vi). Civic engagement is considered essential in democratic society. Research has found that the aged between 14 to 25 years are a period of great flexibility and openness (Wan-Ying et al., 2005).
Issues and Factors to Prevent Youth from Civic Engagement
From various studies on low level of Cambodian youth civic engagement, there are emerging issues and factors that contribute to this low participation.
Government and Policy
Cambodia still struggles with low level of accountability and effectiveness of basic government services. There is no official National Youth Policy. Widespread corruption has also been a barrier for improving socio-economic development (UNICEF EAPRO, 2008). In a recruitment process into a new government post, applicant is selected based on who are associated with, rather than their knowledge and skill. Whereas, the potential youth for building the nation are being ignored by the system, which leads to the youth having no faith, and in turn leads to despair and disaffection (KAS, 2012). The fundamental rights of freedom of expression is usually violated. Journalists and opposition politicians are frequently prosecuted, which create an atmosphere in which youth are discouraged from participating in socio-political discussion due to fear (KAS, 2012). Likewise, judicial system is not independent. The ruling party/ government has power and influence on...