Youth as Drivers of Change!

by: Qamar Abbas

August 12, 2016

Post By Yusra Nabil
Research and Communications Associate
ASER | Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)

Young people are often considered to represent the future as they bring new ideas and energy to add to the pool of knowledge that currently exists. They can bring enthusiasm and vitality which can lead to new discoveries and developments that can benefit society and the world at large. Young people are hence key drivers of change in any society. This is specifically important for Pakistan considering 64 million of Pakistan’s population is the youth.

Pakistan is however faced with an enormous emergency in the form of lack of opportunity for its youth. According to World Bank statistics, 32 percent of the youth of Pakistan was illiterate as of 2014 and 8.2 percent was unemployed with no vocational and technical skills and the numbers have only gotten worse. The picture is bleaker still for the young females of the country, with little access to education from a young age and lower literacy levels.

In Pakistan, in order to organize the young people and steer them in the right direction, many youth-based initiatives have been under taken. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi’s Education Youth Ambassador Program is one such project to build on and strengthen the emerging youth movement for global education. It forms a network of around 400 young leaders with the interest, passion and dedication to campaign in their schools and communities in Pakistan for action to get all children into school and learning. The EYAs have been engaged in many education advocacy campaigns and activities such as enrollment walks in their communities, lobbying with the government to provide missing facilities in public schools as well as evidence based movements of quality and access in education to advocate for Article 25-A of the Constitution i.e. free and compulsory education for all children between the ages 5-16 years.

Their commitment and passion when it comes to bringing about a positive change in the Pakistani education is commendable. Just recently I was accompanied by two enthusiastic EYAs who volunteered their time to spend a day at the ITA child labor drop in center. This center was created to offer accelerated learning programs, technical and vocational training and health care programs in a small locality in Rawalpindi to encourage withdrawal from exploitative labor for children. Recognizing that these children have not been exposed to the importance of education and have had to become bread earners for their families at the tender ages of 7-8 years, our ambassadors Anam Fatima and Sidra Iqbal emphasized the need for quality education that would give these kids better opportunities as they grow up. Since the visit took place in the month of August, they also spoke about the spirit of independence and how our founding fathers always attached grave importance with education for the country to thrive and prosper.

Seeing the excitement of these young students, both ambassadors were motivated to return and spend more time with these children, engaging them in meaningful activities and helping them learn better.

“The youth are the future of the world and they certainly are the future of Pakistan,” – Adil Najam
Without engaging the youth which makes up a significant portion of the Pakistani population, there is no way for us to see success. For Pakistan to forge its way forward and to achieve its international commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, the youth must contribute in whatever capacity they can.