Sustainable development must be environmentally sound, address issues of peace and human rights, involve all sectors in decision making, and be class and gender equitable. It must also involve young people. The potential of youth to be active participants in development has been under utilized, even ignored. The accepted approach to the so-called youth problem has been “youth development” -- what can we do for youth -- and not “youth in development” -- what can youth do with and for us. In this paper, I examine factors influencing youth’s ability to actively participate in development; identify expectations, aspirations, and concerns of youth living in Busoga District in southeast Uganda; and consider how those factors affect their desire to participate in development. In spite of daunting social, economic, and political circumstances, the youth in this study were overwhelmingly positive about their futures. Many expressed a specific desire to use their talents, time, and personal resources to improve their home communities as well as contribute to Uganda’s positive development. As agricultural and extension educators, we must tap young people’s energy and optimism, and include them in all stages of our current as well as future development and development education initiatives.


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