Let’s build our youth for future
June 15, 2012
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), former American president, once said: “We can’t always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for future.” Pakistan is a young country indeed where, according to Federal Youth Policy (2008), people in the age group of 15-29 years are taken as young population. The youth is the most valuable asset for a country’s sustainable socio-economic, cultural and political development but in Pakistan youth is considered a problem rather than a resource to be developed. A UNDP report points out that the proportion of our population under the age of 30 years is 68% of the total population of which 37% youth is illiterate, 71% doesn’t receive career counseling at school, 28% finds curriculum irrelevant to the job market, 47% doesn’t have sports facilities in their localities and 23% wants to start own business but not supported at all.
The roots of youth policy were founded in 1989, then in 1993, 2002 & 2004. The draft of National Youth Policy (NYP) 2008 was approved in Feb 2009 for the first time in Pakistan. After the approval of 18th Amendment in 2010 there is no coherent body for the promotion of youth activities as the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MOYA) has been abolished and thus the NYP 2008. Now the responsibility for caring after the youth has been transferred from the centre to the provinces.
But the cherry on the cake is that the Punjab is the only province which introduced its first ever youth policy comprising three main pillars: Social, Economic and Political Empowerment of Youth. The Punjab government deserves praise for its ground-breaking initiatives for youth empowerment like the Punjab Educational Endowment Fund, Yellow-Cab Scheme, Literary and Sports Competitions, Micro Financing and award of free Lap-tops to the shining students.
According to my viewpoint, after the completion of formal education, the youth has to strive for economic independence and be prepared to play a positive role in politics. It’s the only way to break the status quo and to bring a sustainable change through the formation and execution of rational policies while being part of the policy making process. For this very reason, they have to be equipped with entrepreneurial and leadership skills. Our youth, no doubt has a great spark and potential to do wonders in every walk of life. There is no dearth of talent in Pakistan; the only thing is to streamline and channelize the efforts through proper platform.
At first place, the role of our institutions, particularly of higher learning where the mentors themselves are indulge in bootlegging, is so feeble in this regard. There is want of futuristic perspective in erudition process. Conventional ‘Parrot-like-Ratta’ system still prevails. That’s why people graduating from most of the universities lack in such type of SKAO’s and out of the box thinking, which are well thought-out characteristics of thriving entrepreneurs. A massive transformation is needed in current curricula and assessment criteria to revamp the situation. The youth should also realize this fact that it’s not only ‘fun to be young’ but they have to shoulder their responsibilities as well.
Gone are the days when the dogma ‘leaders are born; not-made’ was popular and prevailed everywhere. The youth should learn those leadership skills. There is no representation of the youth in assemblies. One wonders how policies can become successful which are chalked out without the consent and participation of 68% of the population (the youth)? This is really an alarming state of affairs. The elite model for policy making has lost its importance in the rest of the world but we are still sticking to it.
Quite to the contrary, the youth segment of our society has never been involved in politics for the last three decades due to the takeover by the late military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. Student unions were banned in the educational institutions which were the nurseries of politics and leadership. Before that there were several student leaders who rose to fame when they joined the mainstream politics Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Sheikh Rasheed, Jahangir Badar, Liaquat Baloch to name but few.
Even if we go back to the pre-partition era, the MSF, the student wing of All India Muslim League (AIML), contributed significantly towards leveling the ground for the cause of Pakistan. Unfortunately, in the decades of 80’s and 90’s and even in the first decade of the current century, the students and youth at large kept themselves aloof from what had been happening on the country’s political scenario. The youths’ detachment from politics afforded an opportunity to the myopias and other powerful sanctions of the society to dominate the scene in which the common man as well as the youth had no role.
If vote is youths’ right then to cast it is their prime responsibility to support, promote and fortify the egalitarian progression with its spot on fortitude. Even after 64 years of autonomy, it has never happened that all electorate exercised their right to vote. The Pakistani youth, though kept cursing the political cream-of-the-crop for what they called ‘the dirty politics’ but shied away from playing an active role in politics. The role of youth in polls and casting their votes is very drab. However, organizations like the Youth Parliament of Pakistan (YPP) are playing their role for this paradigm shift among the civil society, particularly among the youth.
Just development is not enough. We necessitate Positive Youth Development (PYD) which is based on 5Cs introduced by Richard M. Lerner including competence, confidence, connection, character and care. Young people whose life is incorporated with these 5Cs would be on a development path that demonstrates a 6th ‘C-Contribution to self, family, community and the institutions of civil society. Being the fresh blood, the youth of any society has the mushrooming ability to outshine and infuse new ideas in the democratic process to make it tuneful and harmonious with the contemporary needs of anyone. We should take youth as a resource to be developed rather a problem. It is the need of the hour that the government and civil society should join hands together to invest in positive youth development activities so that the dream of a brighter and progressive Pakistan can become a reality in the foreseeable future.