Is ‘mind-set change’ the new frontier for Africa’s youth?
This expert opinion by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) refutes the notion that the mind-set change of young people towards a more ‘entrepreneurial mind-set’ is the solution. First, surely it is right that we are very cautious about any analysis that defines the views, perspectives, attitudes and imagined futures of a whole generation as problematic. It is interesting to note that the idea that young people’s mind-set tightly constrains their actions and responses, sits in tension with another common example of essentialist discourse – that Africa’s young people are highly innovative and creative. Presumably they can’t be both constrained by their mind-set and innovative at the same time. But perhaps the more important objection to framing the problem as mind-set, is that this framing unambiguously places the problem of youth employment in Africa at the feet – or rather in the mind – of the young people themselves. And as such, they themselves have the power and responsibility – with a little help from development agencies – to create and open the door that will allow them to leave their current predicament behind. A final objection is that the mind-set framing tends toward a clean-cut, closed analysis that leaves little if any room for doubt or alternative explanations, and which requires no supporting research or continuing interrogation.