Speakers at a virtual dialogue on Wednesday stressed the need for using the country’s ‘disengaged youths’ for the development of the country.
“Bangladesh youths have very innovative power and many of them are becoming entrepreneurs and surviving in the global competitions with their merit and talent. But there is another youth community who is not properly used for the country and the nation,” said noted economist Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya.
Citizen’s Platform for SDGs Bangladesh and UNDP Bangladesh arranged the virtual dialogue on “Disengaged Youth in Bangladesh: Who, Why and How?” on the eve of the International Youth Day 2021, which would be observed on Thursday (August 12) across the world.
Dr Bhattacharya, also the Convenor of the Citizen’s Platform said the disengaged youths are not engaged in education, training or employment. “We call them ‘Disengaged Youth’ not ‘Alienated Youth’ of the country,” he said.
Noting that there is difference in opinion over the definition of youths, he said if the people aged below 25 years are considered as youths, they would be 45 percent of the country’s population, who will lead the global development programmes in future.
However, the youths are badly facing the brunt of the ongoing pandemic situation, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, also a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
UNDP Resident Representative Sudipto Mukerjee in his introductory speech put emphasis on connecting the disengaged youths to the mainstream for keeping the commitment made under the 2030 global development agenda (SDGs) to ‘Leave No One Behind’.
He said many young people are at a great risk of being deprived of the entitlement of leading dignified and productive lives. “If they will not be quickly connected, we would badly fail in achieving the agenda 2030,” he said.
Researcher Maha Mirza said there is a lack of policy discourse to address the huge number of the youth population disengaged from the country’s socio-economic development process.
“Since our planners and policymakers can’t think beyond three things –garments, remittance and 4th industrial revolution, the biggest portion of the youth community, who are engaged in different sorts of economic activities in information and formal sectors across the country, often remain out of their plans and policies,” she said.
Transgender rights activist Tashnuva Anan Shishir pointed out the absence of specific legal facilities, social stigma and lack of awareness are leaving the transgender youths behind.
Disability Rights Activist Joshiah Sangma Chibol mentioned that people with disabilities are not a homogenous group, rather there are many dimensions to it. Different types of physical disability and social stigma prevents them from accessing general education and basic rights, which needs to be addressed for future development.
Executive Director of Youth Engagement for Sustainability (YES), Bangladesh Shamim Ahmed said more focus should be on youth skill development and employment to contribute more towards the economy. The policies should not be urban-centric only, he suggested.
Mohon Rabidas, Tea Garden Worker Rights Activist, commented that the youth of the tea garden workers community are mostly disengaged from the outside world and do not even receive proper education, for which they are unable to raise their voice.
Jimi Amir of Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN) said the term “disengaged” needs to be accurately defined to address the overall youth disengagement.
CPD Senior Research Fellow Towfiqul Islam Khan moderated the dialogue.