The Punjab Adolescents Strategy and Strategic Plan 2013-2017, launched recently address several shortcomings of the Punjab Youth Policy (PYP).
Saqib Aziz, the youth affairs, sports, archaeology and tourism secretary, said, “The latter was designed for the youth between 15-29 years. However, it failed to address a large portion of adolescents the 10-14 age bracket.”
The new five-year plan is formally a part of the PYP. However, the strategy was formulated by the Department of Youth Affairs, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The strategy took eight months to finalise.
“While, the 15-19 age group was dealt with in the PYP, the 10-14 bracket was left out. There was a need for a holistic strategy for adolescents,” he says.
“Adolescence constitutes a very important stage of an individual’s life,” he says. “Young individuals going through various changes. They need great attention. The new strategy provides the missing link in the PYP.”
The strategy divides the adolescent age group in three sub-groups, each focusing on specific age needs: early adolescence between 10 and 13 years; middle adolescence between 14 and16 years; and late adolescence between 17 and 19 years.
The strategy largely focuses on areas of education, health, protection, social and economic empowerment and active engagement with adolescents.
It also gives a detailed breakdown of need-based initiatives for different age sub groups.
Aziz says 20 departments would be involved in the implementation of the strategy. The action plan will be reviewed after two and a half years, halfway into the duration of the current strategy, he said.
Strategic Priorities and departmental coordination
The strategy has identified priority areas for intervention. “The strategy advocates vocational and technical training for adolescents, accompanied by guidance on entrepreneurship for economic empowerment for 17 to 19 year olds,” Aziz said.
For this, the department will create linkages with the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA), Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC) and the Department of Labour,” he says.
The strategy seeks to ensure access and quality of education for all adolescents coupled through better regulation of schools.
The strategy also suggests better sporting facilities and access to information and health services on basic nutrition, mental, sexual and reproductive health.
Aziz says so far no additional funds have been handed over to the department for the implementation of the strategy because the department would be overseeing the strategy in collaboration with other departments.
Aziz says the department hopes to establish a directorate of youth affairs.
The department is now working on its formulation and on developing institutional mechanisms under the PYP.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2013.