Young People Not Wavering: Mubarack Must Go

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Protesters in Cairo. From the CBS Evening News, Feb. 6, 2011.
CBS

Perhaps the loudest call for change in Egypt is coming from the young and among that group there appears to be no compromise: Mubarak must go.

CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy reports that voices of protest are coming from a generation that has grown up knowing only one ruler.

"The youth," says political science major Dalia Abbas, who's 19. "They are the ones who are frustrated. They are the ones who are angry."

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Egypt has a huge youth population. the median age is just 24, compared to 36 in the U.S. And young people between the ages of 15 and 29 make up 90 percent of the unemployed. They call them "shabab atileen" - the unemployed youth.

"The way we are living now is not the way we should be living," says Abbas.

Dalia and Aya Abbas are both university students in Cairo and they too will soon be looking for jobs.

"Most of the people have really good degrees but they can't find anything to go into," says Aya Abbas, an 18-year-old pharmacy student at Ain Shams University.

"Our government doesn't take care of us, our government doesn't give us the opportunity that they should be giving us," says Dalia.

They are like many of the young demonstrators: highly educated.

"People who got a degree in accounting go into a job as a secretary," says Aya. "Like, there is really nowhere to go."

With tuition fees as low as $60 a year, Egypt's university system is creating many more graduates than the economy can handle.

"This system now graduates in the order of 600 to 700,000 students each year. Each year!" says Prof. Jerry Leach from the American University in Cairo. "Probably about half of these students don't find jobs."

The young protestors who are impatient for change are now realizing the process will take longer than they first hoped.

"There will be change," says Aya. "I guess all we can do now is pray for change. Hopefully it will be good change."

After 13 days of demonstrating, Egypt's younger generation have sent a clear message to their rulers that they want change. The question now is how quickly that change will come.