Youth Migration, Education, and Mega Cities: Promise and Peril in Karachi

Lecture Series: Children and Youth on the Move
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
6 PM
James Room, Barnard Hall

Dana Burde
New York University

Climate change, conflict, and the pursuit of better life opportunities push rural youth to migrate to urban areas. Between 2008 and 2014 climate-related disasters displaced an estimated average of 22.5 million people each year or approximately 62,000 per day, with most displacements occurring in places with weak political institutions (Koubi et al 2018, 2). In Pakistan alone, the 2010 floods affected an estimated 20 million people from an area the size of England (The Guardian, 27 January 2011). Millions of people were displaced in some of the most volatile areas of the country. Many rural Pakistani youth also migrate to urban areas to seek better life opportunities, including and especially education. In Karachi, these youth add pressure to already strained government services including the overloaded education system, exacerbate the existing youth bulge, and potentially increase urban volatility. Yet despite the important role youth play, we know little about youths’ experiences in these urban environments, and how they describe the challenges they face. This talk investigates youth experiences with the education system in Karachi in the face of these challenges, seeking to understand better why youth leave home, what their hopes are for their new urban lives, and how they try to address the challenges they face. From 2012-2014 I conducted 80 in-depth interviews with in-school and out-of-school youth (boys and girls) between the ages of 17 and 22 who were indigenous to the city and who migrated from rural areas to Karachi. These youth offer a sophisticated commentary on the promise and peril of the city, calling for equity in education and offering suggestions for policy change. Understanding these youths’ stories is a crucial first step toward systematically enhancing education services for youth in mega cities, easing the strains of migration, and strengthening the promise youth hold in these contexts.

Children and Youth on the Move

This series focuses on the experiences of children and youth living on the move. Across three different contexts, speakers engage questions of how young people’s lives are shaped by experiences of economic distress, violent political conflict, and different forms of juridical status. Of equal import, the speakers ask how young people act upon and shape these contexts in turn. Finally, these talks ask how research and education might be engaged in the service of inclusion and justice for children and youth on the move.

Lecture One: “Speech or Silence?: Citizenship and Childhood in Contemporary Schooling
Professor Ariana Mangual Figueroa (Rutgers)
February 12, 2019

Lecture Two: “Youth Migration, Education, and Mega Cities: Promise and Peril in Karachi
Professor Dana Burde (NYU)
March 27, 2019

Lecture Three: “Youth aspirations in exile: Participatory action research in Kakuma Refugee Camp
Professor Michelle Bellino (University of Michigan)
April 22, 2019


Mar. 27, 2019 - 6:00 PM