Youth Policy: Challenges and Opportunities – Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din

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Youth, the 60% of the population, leaders of the future, propagator of the progress, but the lynchpin of the future is most neglected, their concerns have never been discussed open heartedly.

We will be analysing the situation with the lens of personality and social challenges of the youth.

The fundamental problem is the communication gap between the youth and their elders, this communication gap is exaggerated when choosing the career paths, the former believing themselves to be mature enough for taking their own decisions for matters personal or social while the latter just refuse to hand over this responsibility to them. This leads to temperaments rising high more often.

According to a recent study, six out of every 10 such people are usually short-tempered and rude in their response. Many hesitate in taking their parents’ advice in different matters, particularly in issues which according to them are very modest and thus they land up in taking up a wrong decision.

Educational systems are also playing their drawback in discriminating the role of youth, the country has three parallel education systems, the Madrasah; has seized the modern world opportunities of the students, they are simply shielding their students from modern world education, vis a vis the Government sector schools, providing botched educational practices; reluctance of exposure to the smart and new world, third the Cambridge system, not supportive by most of the mediocre families- isn’t this the time that we should align our system to a unified crux.
Implanting the lifelong learning skills among youth, they should be the torch bearer and trend-setter in propagating the lucrative trends in the society.

Unfortunately, the so-called modern educational system isn’t exposing youth to their first class version. The educational system should make the youth enthusiast to play their pivotal role in development and betterment of the society. Every entrepreneur having an impact on the world rises from the bed and has a firm belief and vision for the day, the tasks that would be really impacting the world. Every youngster needs a firm vision which would be igniting and provoking his thoughts for doing the best, achieving the distinction.

Chasing the arbitrary direction without being focused is another factor amplifying the plight, envisaging the future without proper and focused approach, not knowing the technicalities of the situation, are the factors a young cannot sustain; a youngster should be so rigid and firm in his goals, achieving the coveted should be his benchmark.

Just chasing the traditional career paths are making the minds blunt, halting the innovation and abducting the ideas; we have to compete with the modern world with skills and innovation and this needs unfavourable decisions, swimming against the waves, taking plotted risks. Those who remain firm in these unfavourable times and aren’t afraid of being the same, history never forgets them.

There is mounting evidence to prove that lack of investment and an indifference to the needs of youth incur a high cost in terms of loss of development opportunities, ill health, social, physical and mental disruption. There is no doubt that the youth have been at the centre of socio-economic and socio-political changes taking place in Pakistan and elsewhere. The period of the life under which the youth fall, is the most productive and energetic. If their energies are not channelled they fail to captivate opportunities that come their way.

Even now things are in a very better state for Pakistani youth at this moment, the youth in Pakistan find themselves in a far better position than many of their peers in other countries because of the demographic advantage they enjoy in Pakistan. We have an opportunity to turn our young people into a productive asset that could contribute significantly to the economic growth and poverty alleviation. Both the government and society must join their hands for this nation-building task and concentrate on protecting the emotional and physical health of the youth, their skill-based education, and provision of recreational facilities, employment, and above all incorporation of self-confidence, motivation and courage to move forward. The challenges, constraints, and opportunities the young people face vary from region to region and culture to culture — from forced early marriages to increased poverty resulting from adjustment policies, from armed conflicts to lack of opportunities. For many, bread and butter is a problem, lack of education or poverty are major constraints in life. But nobody denies that the youth, wherever they are, need to be redirected for a larger well-being and prosperity of societies, countries, and nations. The youth of Pakistan, despite a multitude of problems like unemployment, poverty, remorselessness, social taboos, drugs, and politics, has always been in the forefront of movements and political changes, for instance from Pakistan Movement to Independence of Pakistan and Indo-Pak wars and Pakistan emerging as “something” on the map of the world to Pakistan becoming the first Islamic nuclear power. They have never let the nation down at any point in time. It is unfortunate that the youth, despite their contributions to national developments, find themselves trapped in a culture marked by guns and violence. All this has resulted in an unstable economy, a shattered confidence of foreign investors, lawlessness, and a break-up of the social fabric.

Pakistan is very rich in terms of youth. This is the best time for Pakistan to invest in youth, reactivate and relocate their disfranchised energies if there is any need for economic growth and social development in Pakistan. If we glance through the history of the world, it stands clear that the countries with the fastest economic growth over the past 50 years are those which heavily invested in their youth.

The most impounding problem our youth is facing at present is frustration. This monster is eating up our youth slowly and gradually. The youth in Pakistan don’t have jobs, means of healthy entertainment, health resources and awareness; this is the right time to look into the problems of youth and give them viable solutions otherwise it will be too late in the day. We need to bear in mind that the “destiny of nations is in the hands of youth.”
As for the education of our youth, there is a feeling that it should be more productive and progressive in terms of its pragmatism. There is no formal guidance for students in the logical selection of a specific course of study. There is no unified, single education system in the country. Education does not mean enrolment at universities and colleges. Rather it means evaluating the skills and knowledge of those individuals who acquired it, and the adequacy of this education in fulfilling their needs. Education means exploring alternate routes, both formal and informal, knowledge and skill building. In Pakistan particularly it means putting the right persons to the right track. Most of our employed youth are misfits in their present positions and employment. They have been yoked to these unwanted engagements either by society, parents or their circumstances. Somebody who wanted to become a lawyer and was sent to a medical college against his wish, cannot give the best output as a doctor at all. We need proper education counselling system in the country if we require a maximum output from our youth.

One government launches a couple of youth promotion and youth investment schemes, the next one slates all the previous programmes and starts a new. The ultimate sufferers in this exercise are the youth. The role of media in the upbringing of our youth has been minimum throughout the history of Pakistan.

As to radio and newspaper, both of these media don’t target youth as one of their potential audiences. With the start of the public-private partnership, the government should pay extra attention to using them in education, welfare and development of the youth. There must be remedial measures at the government, social and individual levels to restore the confidence of the youth in their potential qualities. The most important step to be taken by the Government of Pakistan, in this regard, is revision and revival of a national youth policy which must be to aspire to create situations whereby youth stand educated, employed and free from drug abuse, frustration, parochialism, sectarianism and other numerous evils which have jolted the foundations of our society like involvement of youth in politics, terrorism, and lawlessness.

We have to prepare our youth to face the challenges of the time with unshakable courage and youthful confidence.

Youngsters the time is always challenging, recognize your onus and be canning.


Makhdoom M. Shahab-ud-Din
The writer is a columnist at the Daily Patriot and Anchor Person of the only youth related talk show “Hum Jawan” on Roze News.

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