Abdur Rahman Khan
The 10th two-day virtual anniversary of the Youth Forum of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) concluded on April 8 with discussions on the corona virus pandemic, climate change and other issues facing youth. The Ecosoc Youth Forum is one of the best initiatives of the United Nations, but it has yet to be truly fruitful. This is a separate topic that would be discussed at another time. After attending this interactive session for the first time, I realised that youth of our country need special attention.
It is a fact that young people are not only the guarantor of a nation’s bright future but also the source of positive progress in that nation. This can be gauged by the investments of the leading nations in the modern world for honing the abilities of their youth.
Over the past twenty years, China has almost eliminated illiteracy among its 1.3 billion citizens; extended nine years of basic education across its expansive territories; developed elite high schools with world-class standards in math and science; began teaching English as a second language from third grade on; and dramatically expanded the number of students in higher education from 1.4% of the age group in 1978 to 20% today. These are among the findings of a report by Asia Society.
In addition, China is providing scholarships to young people around the world, which is not only an important diplomatic tool, but also incorporating valuable ideas of young scholars from other countries into its policies. Similarly, the rest of the developed world, including the United States, Canada, France, England and other countries, are paying special attention to their youth and providing the necessary facilities to their youth.
Not only is the future of these countries being nurtured, but over time, these countries are also getting more and more experts in every field, who continue to revolutionize the various fields of their countries with new technological innovations. That is why these countries are leading the world in one way or another.
Unfortunately, young people in Third World countries are facing a number of problems that make their situation worse than in developed countries. Because they could not make a meaningful investment in the future of their youth and thus lose the proper utilisation of their human resource. That is why Third World countries often face difficulties in many areas.
The situation in Pakistan is no different. According to recent global statistics, Pakistan is one of the youngest countries in the world having 64% of its total population is under 30 years of age, while 29% of the population is between 15 and 29 years of age. Pakistan is currently the second country in the world with the highest number of out-of-school children at around 22.8 million.
In today’s globalized world where such potential of the population is considered an important component of national power, but this immense potential of the population in Pakistan has been made a burden by neglect and substandard policies. In Pakistan today, the youth are facing immense problems in which unemployment is at the top. According to recent trade and business reports, the unemployment rate in Pakistan is likely to rise further by 5%, while the majority of the current unemployment rate is among educated youth. According to recent revelations by the former HEC chairman, round about 4,000 PhD holders are also unemployed.
At present, the youth of Pakistan are facing many problems in pursuing higher education, in which students have to bear the cost of higher education themselves due to allocation of low budget to education sector. All this is happening in a situation where according to the World Economic Outlook reports, 40% of people are likely to be below the poverty line. In addition, a large portion of the remaining total population is just above the poverty line. And according to a recent IMF report, inflation is likely to be around 10%.
In such circumstances, getting higher education is one of the impossibilities for the common man. In addition, those young people who are continuing their educational journey on their own capabilities are suffering from a crippled education system because they are being made rote learners, admitted the former chairman of HEC. However, far-sighted academicians have been raising this issue since time immemorial.
In the presence of the above-mentioned problems, a wave of frustration is forming, which is pushing young people towards extremism, drug addiction and other social evils. This is not only a loss of an important component of Pakistan’s national power, but the country has been paying the price for decades and will continue to pay in the absence of necessary changes in policies.
Therefore, now the policy makers of the country must wake up and use the valuable human resource like youth for nation building. In this context, not only the attainment of higher education should be ensured but also international standard education and learning procedures should be kept in mind. Therefore, it is need of the hour to implement Article 25_A of the Constitution in its real essence to the educational affairs of the country.
In addition, Skilled Development Centers should be set up in every area like universities, schools and colleges to impart skills to the youth who have so far remained away from the educational environment.
At the same time, the supremacy of merit should be ensured throughout the country so that more and more deserving young talent can contribute to the growth of the national power of the state.
In addition, a special portion of the budget should be allocated for youth development which will be used not only in the above initiatives but also in other important youth development activities. As the literacy rate of young girls is lower than that of young boys.’ other opportunities should be provided along with education and skill development to the young girls without any bias, so as to truly increase the national power of the state. The present government of Pakistan has announced Kamyab_Jawan program for the youth which is a commendable process, but so far there are no signs of its implementation.
Furthermore, in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, the youth issues must be seriously considered in collaboration with the United Nation’s affiliated organizations to ensure possible solutions to the youth problems. Addressing all the problems of the youth is actually a real step towards a knowledge economy. Due to which the beloved homeland can get out of the whirlpool of current problems.