International youth day: ‘Young people can bring about change’

Experts, young people discuss how to overcome challenges and fulfill potential.

Aroosa Shaukat August 13, 2012


Young people expressed their resolve to work for a better Pakistan on International Youth Day.

Shahzad Khan, director of Chanan Development Association, said this year’s Youth Day theme ‘Building a better world: Partnering with the youth,’ reflects “trust in the skills and potential of youth to work for human development.”

Chanan Development Association has been working with youth since 2004. Khan said there had been an increase in the participation of youth-based organisations in mainstream development projects in recent years. He welcomed political parties reaching out to the youth but he added there was a need to ensure the youth is not just used for election mobilisation.

“What needs to be seen is whether they will be abandoned after election year,” he said.

Amjad Zafar, national programme officer of Youth Parliament Pakistan, said the last year was not a good year in terms of opportunities available to the youth. Zafar said the number of sports facilities available decreased as did the availability of quality education. “With rising inflation, a power crisis and rising extremism, how can we say the government has provided the youth a conducive environment to grow?,” he asked.

He said the biggest challenge was lack of self esteem. “The suicide rate amongst young people has increased , especially after the announcement of examination results,” he said. Zafar said there was a need for timely interventions to help them overcome emotional crises.

As many as 40 students took part in an event on Sunday organised by Bargad, a youth-based organisation, at the office of the Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism department. Participants also took part in a walk in the Gaddafi Stadium premises.

Uzma Ali, an art teacher at Lahore Grammar School who was volunteering for Bargad, said the event was held to encourage young people to contribute to society. “They have to be made aware of what they are capable of,” Ali said. She said they were focusing on engaging young people in discussions and capacity building activities. “Participants discussed real life heroes amongst the youth with the most recent being Muhammad Muhsen Ali, who topped the Punjab University examinations,” she said.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) statistics put literacy in Pakistan amongst those in the 15 to 24 age bracket at 79 per cent for males and 61 per cent for females in 2010. However, Asim Noman, a student of the Government Islamia College Lahore, said the youth is still largely deprived of adequate education opportunities.

Noman, a participant in the IYD event, said there was also a dearth of career counseling.

Ali Zaryab, a mechanical engineering student at the National University of Science and Technology, said the rural youth was often ignored. “Their problems are different from those faced by urban youth. Policy-makers must take these into consideration.”

The International Youth Day is marked globally on August 12 and has been celebrated every year since 2000.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.


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