Introduction: South Asian Youth Festival 2020
South Asian Youth Festival 2020 is organized to gather youths from South Asian Countries, connect with them, share and learn their perspective, and develop a strong bond. The 3- weeks-long program organized on the occasion of International Youth Day 2020 to celebrate youth power, energy, creativity, success, and capabilities. The festival is organized in collaboration with various South Asian organizations like UNICEF- ROSA; UNESCO; A2I, Cabinet Division, Bangladesh, UNDP; National Youth Council Nepal; CYDA, India; CYN, Sri Lanka; Pinnacle Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, Maldives; Dynamic Youth Afghanistan; Maldives National Youth Council; Coca-Cola; Turkish Airlines & South-South Network. The opening ceremony was held on Wednesday, 12th August 2020.
The opening ceremony of the first virtual South Asian Festival 2020 started with an introductory remark by the Executive Director at Glocal Pvt. Ltd, Mr. Asish Thakur. He shared the motive of organizing the festival to celebrate the international youth day, youth energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and success.
Mr. Thakur warmly welcomed all the dignitaries and participants for the opening South Asian Youth Festival. He introduced the Chief Guest of the event Minister; Ministry of Labour, Employment, & Social Security, Government of Nepal, Hon. Rameshwor Ray Yadav; Special Guest, Hon. Aishath Athiya Naseer, State Minister of Education, Government of Maldives; Ms. Jean Gough, Director at Regional Office for South Asian, UNICEF; Dr. Dewan Md. Humayun Kabir, Joint Project Director and Joint Secretary, A2I, Cabinet Division Bangladesh; Smt. Vandana Chawan, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Government of India; Dr. Md. Mozamel Haque Khan, Chairman, SAANSO, and Director of Anti-Corruption Commission, Bangladesh; Mr. Madhab Dhungel, Executive Vice- Chairperson, National Youth Council Nepal; Ms. Humayra Ibnat Badhon, Senior Rover Mate Samatat Open Scout Group, Bangladesh; Ms. Sudthida Keophaithool, Regional Civil Society Strengthening and Partnership Advisor Asia and Pacific Hub, Plan International; Mr. Pamir Hassas, Director of Relations to IPU, House of People in Afghanistan and Mr. Kusala Fernando, Principal, Prince of Wales College, Srilanka.
The discussion was moderated by Mr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Sujon, Education Technology Expert, A2I, ICT Divison, Bangladesh, and Mr. Asish Thakur, Executive Director at Glocal Pvt. Ltd.
Before the session started, an introductory video clip of the South Asian Youth Festival was presented. The 3- week-long youth festival includes exciting segments like insightful panel discussions, skillful workshops, and creative competitions. This festival which is being organized virtually will continue till 3rd of September.
SAYF- 2020 was virtually inaugurated with a wonderful welcome remark by Ms. Jean Gough, Director, Regional Officer for South Asia, UNICEF. She shared – “I am very honored to be here to celebrate SAYF. Thank You Glocal Pvt. Ltd. for putting this forward to celebrate the International Youth Day 2020 in a grand way. I am proud that Glocal and public enterprise has come together to support and empower the South Asian Youths to lead the way. On behalf of UNICEF, I allow to thank Glocal Nepal team on their effort in advancing the youth agenda in the region”.
Ms. Gough addressed education skilling opportunities that have been interactive for the massive group of young people. The young people in South Asia have risen to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Firstly, South Asia is the home to the world’s largest group of people making the most powerful force and transformational change in the region. Secondly, cooperate with each other to unleash a collection of the potential to bring transformational change. The pandemic has taught teamwork and collaboration for future work and life. Lastly, she wished for the successful completion of the festival.
Mr. Thakur agreed with her points and urged it is important to work together for making engaged and equipped South Asia in terms of youth development. He warmly welcomed Hon. Rameshwor Ray Yadav, Minister, Ministry of Labour, Employment, & Social Security, Government of Nepal as a Chief Guest open his statement focusing on youths in terms of employment and skill development.
Hon. Rameshwor Ray Yadav shared, “I would like to congratulate Glocal Pvt. Ltd. for creating a grand platform to celebrate the youth power. Also, thankful to the multi-country organizers for coming together to celebrate the International Youth Day 2020 in a unique way. I believe that 3- week long SAYF will bring a solution to youth issues”.
Mr. Yadav added youth have a great role in the community, country, region in shaping the society with their great source. The tagline of youth day is, “Engagement for Global Actions.” Moreover, the tagline of the youth festival program is, – “#IAMTHESOLUTION”. Youth can be a vital solution and their work can be helpful for the solution. For all these, the important aspect is skill and employment for youth development.
Moving into the next speaker, Hon. Aishath Athiya Naseer, State Minister of Education, Government of Maldives as a special guest for opening remarks. “It is an honor and great pleasure for me to be with you all to come together to celebrate youth activity, creativity, enthusiasm, and success. I am excited to be part of such event aspiring youths. I would like to express gratitude to Glocal Nepal for this opportunity”.
This is the time for the youth of the nation to come forward, come together, and brainstorm some ideas and solutions. The youth gives confidence and raises hopes. In addition, adding a very important theme in giving the essence, “No one knows what lies ahead and what lies around is important to know that over from various challenges”.
During the panel, firstly, she put her ideas regarding the opportunity to discover innovative ideas through this activity designed for the festival such as, – Insightful discussions, Creative Competitions, and Skillful Workshops. And secondly, she added, sharing experiences and ideas is a good form of learning. Such collaboration would lead to new interaction, networking, and develop ideas. The slogan of the festival is “#IAMTHESOLUTION” reflects the effects to be successful; “You have to do everything for your own. No will take your hand and take you to the success”.
Smt. Vandana Chawan, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Government of India started her opening thoughts towards the festival and expressed her gratitude message for being part of the festival SAYF 2020.
“We are living in the world which was never ever thought would be indoors, the whole world has been confined, but still at this pace, we human race has learned a lot. We earned that should not be taking things for granted, not just young but all generations. All the South Asian countries have similar backgrounds, we have to grapple to poverty, we have to grapple to unemployment even during the normal time, and this pandemic has worsened the situation even more and it has brought new normalcy, new challenges. So, the youth needs to collaborate. We always see youth having fun in their work but with the fun comes consciousness, sensitivity to deal things which need to applaud,”- explained Vandana Chawan.
She added a good example of youth that they are doing amazing work to the community, and for the nation. Greta Thunberg is a classic example of what young people can do. Collaboration and participation of young people would be helpful to create a peaceful and wonderful planet.
Dr. Md. Mozamel Haque Khan, Chairman, SAANSO, and Director Anti-Corruption Commission addressed his appreciative remarks of organizing the youth festival during the pandemic situation and also added his virtual thankful message of being part of the festival. He shared his stories regarding the recent scenario of a pandemic. In addition, this is a crucial time but wisdom and mental faculties are not lockdowns. It is very open. He added young people are most active in the virtual activity.
Mr. Khan mentioned the government of Bangladesh has undertaken a lot of activities for their development. A skill development program is for the youth in various programs to support youths, and for the establishment of self-employment. The different renowned organization plays a different role in the sector of youth engagement and development. Moreover, he talked about the youth festival that makes youth united to share their thoughts, ideas, and eventually, that will increase the level of experience and motivate them to be more associated with the present work.
Dr. Dewan Md. Humayun Kabir, Joint Project Director and Joint Secretary, A2I, Cabinet Division Bangladesh conveyed the wonderful message for being part of the SAYF 2020 on the occasion of United Nations International Youth Day.
He started with an example of Kailash Satyarthi, who is the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014. The power of youth is the commonwealth of the entire world. There is no denying that the future rests on the shoulder of young people. Moreover, he explained different programs to be held during this pandemic to explore the digital market and to develop an online learning system for young people’s engagement and development. This year the theme of International Youth Day 2020, – “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, essential to engage young people at the local, national and global actions.
Another speaker, Mr. Kusala Fernando, Principal, Prince of Wales College, Sri Lanka, started his virtual talk by describing the youth’s value, and their potential. Youth is one of the valuable aspects of the country. This is the time for youths to develop skills, attitudes, knowledge which are essential to uplift themselves for the future. He urged that this virtual festival is a splendid opportunity and valuable for young people because they can share their ideas, views, and interact with each other. All the government should facilitate young people to develop their skillful attitudes, organize an online platform in this pandemic for better enhancement and development.
Mr. Fernando described the education sector has risen in virtual learning. Online virtual learning is an important aspect of learning in today’s life for youths. During the panel, he added in the context of Sri Lankan, many organizations, institutions have conducted an insightful program, sessions for young people, students on the virtual basis in this pandemic situation. Above all, we also consider youth as the lead instructor of the nation.
Ms. Sudthida Keophaithool, Regional Civil Society Strengthening, and Partnership Advisor Asia and Pacific Hub, Plan International started the presentation by showing the slides. She described adolescents, youth, and young women can change the collective action for systematic change. She displayed the example story of the “International Day of The Girl” who raised their voices for justice and equality.
Ms. Keophaithool explained about the ‘Youth Tool Kit for Girls Set Equal’ to invite young activists, human rights defenders, and change-makers all over the world. The toolkit helps to produce the writing stories, editing, and making young reporter’s products. She mentioned the opportunities regarding youth participation and materials for finding digital stories through training guides.
Mr. Pamir Hassas, Director of Relations to IPU, House of People Afghanistan started his opening comment in youth engagement in Afghanistan. In addition, the International Youth Day theme focusing on point engagement of youth. He addressed the main three streams- “Engagement with the Local in the Community Level, Engagement at the National Level, and Engagement at the International level.”
Mr. Hassas described Afghanistan has good national youth policy with the help of the youth section. Youths are involved in different program activities, NGOs, international agencies, and have a good practice in social activities. Mostly, youths are involved in specific opportunities, engagement, and conducting the awareness program regarding SDGs implementation, which is vital for youths. Despite this achievement, there are challenges as well. Without having peace, it is difficult to achieve the rule. Thus, peace is important to all of us.
Ms. Humayra Ibnat Badhon, Senior Rover Mate Samatat Open Scout Group, Bangladesh put forward her experiences, her teenage stories, and the challenges overcome in her life. Scouting is the teaching lesson of life. The starting of anything can never be smooth. After all, now, there are more than two thousand scout girls in her school. This little achievement gave her confidence in life. She believed that it is possible to make the world a better place. After knowing the SDGs program based on Gender Equality, she started her footprints on gender equality at an early age. She shared her journey to make girls independent along with the team, and her contribution to gender equality.
Mr. Thakur welcomed Mr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Sujon, Education Technology Expert, A2I, ICT Divison, Bangladesh, and requested him to organize an engagement session.
Mr. Mohammad Rafiqul requested everyone to open the browse site (www.menti.com) for the interactive session. The session headed towards the questions and answers where the distinguished guest put forward their opinion. Mr. Thakur expressed his thought that it was an honor to hear their advice, thoughts, ideas from all the dignitaries Ministers, Parliaments, and Policymakers of different South Asian countries in the Youth International Day with the theme of, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”.