Introduction of SAYF 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 is organized on the occasion of International Youth Day 2020 to celebrate youth power, energy, creativity, success, and capabilities. This festival which is being organized virtually will continue till the 3rd of September. 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.
Country-Specific Panel Discussion- Afghanistan
The country panel discussion of Afghanistan was centralized on the theme, “Youth, Education, and Employment.” The panel session was held on Monday, 24 August 2020. The discussion provided an opportunity to hear wonderful insights from the inspirational youths of Afghanistan. The panelists shared about the education system in Afghanistan, the need for bridging the Skill gap in their country to enhance the mindset of Youth towards youth engagement and empower them as it is a key to global progress.
The country-specific panel discussion amongst elite panelists included; Ms. Raqia Gharjistani, Senior Advisor, Education Management; Mr. Abdul Ehsan Mohmand, President& CEO of Dynamic Vision and Mr. Hassan Rezaei, Youth Activist. The session was moderated by Mr. Mohammad Kazim Haidari, President, and CEO of Dynamic Youth Afghanistan.
Mr. Mohammad Kazim Haidari, President, and CEO of Dynamic Youth Afghanistan.
The session was opened up with Ms. Sushila Shrestha, (Operation Manager at Glocal Pvt. Ltd) by addressing the motive behind organizing the festival and a short description of the South Asian Youth Festival 2020. She said- “South Asian Youth Festival 2020 is organized with the major motive of celebrating International Youth Day 2020 to celebrate youth energy, creativity, and enthusiasm. The festival started on the 12th of August and will conclude on the 3rd of September with the announcement of winners of the competitions. The festival is initiated with the tagline of #IAMTHESOLUTION; as we all know that youths have the solution for various issues.”
The panel discussion started with a brief introduction of the honorable panelist. The session headed towards the specific questions to all the speakers. The first question was raised to Mr. Abdul Ehsan Mohmand, President& CEO of Dynamic Vision, about the unemployment rate in Afghanistan and the main causes for youth unemployment in Afghanistan.
Mr.Abdul said Afghanistan has a few populations of youth which includes 65-68% of its population between the age of 14 to 25. The point is ‘very good’ as well as ‘very bad’ for the country. The very good because of the fresh life energetic workforce which can help in the establishment of the country. And, very bad because of the non-availability of a proper system for dynamic youths into the proper system where they could be the energies, knowledge could help in a consultant. That’s the major disaster in the country.
Mr. Abdul Ehsan Mohmand, President& CEO of Dynamic Vision
Besides, the major another issue in the country i.e. Security. Because of the lockdown, it is difficult for many youths to develop and enhance their skills in the context of the market requiring technical skills. There are issues as primary and secondary education systems in Afghanistan. The system of education has been developed as well as assisted as per the requirements of the private sectors, government sectors in terms of the needs of these institutions. There is a gap between the protection of the education system. The quality education provided by these institutions develops to systemize to meet the requirements of the market.
Furthermore, he added, when these youth graduates from the universities, then they go to the market, and they see the gap between the skills, knowledge that they have gained, and the requirement of the market. Then it creates the disaster of unemployment because the education that they have received does not meet the requirement of the market. Along with this, he added another main cause of youth unemployment and i.e. corruption. The competition has become very rich in the market and without having a proper reference and system, they will not get a good job especially in the private and government sector.
Moderator Mr. Mohammad raised another question to the second panelist of the session. Ms. Raqia Gharjistani, Senior Advisor, Education Management shared her perspective on the education system in Afghanistan and the challenges and the problem during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Raqia said the education system is a key to getting more children and schools, providing a fortunate opportunity for youth to access higher education and also to let a country be peaceful. But, unfortunately, the education system in Afghanistan is not based on information standards in a complete way. The education system in Afghanistan has been affected by the past decades of war and also the conflicts in the country. Still, we have out of the school children, we have girls in the rural area, and still, they don’t have access to school. This is a big problem.
Ms. Raqia Gharjistani, Senior Advisor, Education Management
She mentioned the challenges and the problems during the COVID-19, especially in the education sector. Fortunately, the government has decided to try some alternative ways for the education sector like TV channels, online classes for university students. But these things develop some problems in rural areas. In rural areas, people don’t have access to the internet and even some of them don’t have Tv. So, how they can continue their lesson, and access the online classes. These are the major challenges during the pandemic that we faced and noticed.
The next question was raised to the third panelist of the session. Moderator requested Mr. Hassan Rezaei, Youth Activist to share about youth engagement and its importance, especially in Afghanistan.
Mr. Hassan added his opinion and his perspective on quality education and also highlighted the major reason for youth unemployment. He also added youth and women should come together in this regard and support each other so that their collective voices are heard.
Again, the question was raised to Mr. Abdul, “As you pointed to quality education, corruption is the major reason for youth unemployment in Afghanistan. So, how to prepare youth for the market demand in Afghanistan? How to actually train them? What is the major problem of quality education or other else? What is the reason behind the education towards the jobless?
As Mr. Abdul already mentioned in the previous question, there is a big difference between the demand of the market and the skills that are produced by the educational and higher education institutions of Afghanistan. He shared his suggestion that the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Higher Education form a committee to work together to access market demands, and based on that they can organize curriculum. Another thing, he suggested that these institutions should work on skilled-based training. If these youth are provided with proper skilled based training, besides that government can work on establishing proper infrastructure. Based on this, they can bring in private sector companies for private consultants and different industries.
Currently, Afghanistan is moving at the high face of service based in industry. And besides having a service-based industry, there is a problem with the budget. 80% or more than, the government budget is being funded by different donors. So, all the donors funded actively in the budget are funded by someone else. Thus, it cannot focus on sustainability. If you cannot focus on sustainability, you cannot develop a sustainable system and only a sustainable system can provide job opportunities to the youth.” says Mr. Abdul.
What mindset should education teach in schools in Afghanistan?
Ms.Raqia said that as she is working on a project, and also working with the school’s university students every day. The one thing she realized is that institutions always support what is taught by teachers in school but are not concerned with the outbox of the school. They have the ability to learn and explore their experiences. They never think that it is useful for them.
Mr. Hassan Rezaei, Youth Activist
Regarding mindset, a psychology professor mentioned that the way students perceive their ability is prone to two opposite mindsets. The 1st mindset is students having skill, talent, and intelligence in flex. They may insist on learning and maybe embarrassed if they insist on learning. This system is accepted by the schools. The 2nd mindset is that students know about their talent. They can learn new things by themselves. So, institutions have to encourage their students to be broad-minded.
What challenge is faced by marginalized youths and how to address it?
Mr. Hassan mentioned that there is not only one marginalized group. Women also fall under marginalized groups. Marginalized groups should help, support, and advocate for each other for better engagement in politics, economic, and social activities.
What is the challenge for Afghani youth as an entrepreneur to have their own business and how to get out of it?
Mr. Abdul mentioned that doing business is very good as they have enough time and enough energy to work on it. They should not always depend on others. As per the rating regarding employment, among 183, Afghan falls in 173rd so there are hurdles and challenges regarding their own business.
He highlighted the major challenges for youth i.e.”Democratic Government system” which takes a long process to get a license. The next challenge is the key requirement of youth to have a million bank accounts to start a business. 90 % of people in the Afghan are living in poverty. The taxation issue is also the main challenge. Lots of tax must be paid by the youth which is very for them. The financial support from the bank has a long process to be done. There is a high-interest rate. Corruption is also a problem. Security like personal security is also a major issue in Afghanistan. Security of transport, logistics as they cannot move safely as 70% of Afghan land is captured by insurgents. Unavailability of technical qualified level to tackle such managing, operating, maintaining the machinery. There is no proper vocational training Centre or skill-based training institution to be trained. So that people are hard to find and to be employed. The key issue that helps the whole process is an internal public sector influential people’s identity. People in the public cause monopoly because some of them sitting in public do not make others to rule and grow because they are themselves ruling. They will not be allowed to compete or if youths try to compete, it would be hard for them as they are competing with the one who is regulating all management systems.
How do you ensure that the education system is more inclusive and able to create leaders that we need tomorrow?
Ms.Raqia stated that recently in the past 10-year afghan wants to involve those in politics, society, and government because they know that it’s their time to show themselves, their capacity, their talent. They are trying to prospect actively and effectively. The problem is they do not have access to participate in all these sectors in education. Annually, students prepare for the exam but public universities don’t have the capacity to prepare all the students. The government is responsible for involving the public university to rural areas, provinces for equal participation of the student in education. Right now in Afghanistan, they are aware that most of the students who are passing the schools are not able to obtain higher education, especially in provinces because they face a lack of institution and university for the continuation. So the education system is not more inclusive to create leaders.
What can young people do to put pressure on the government to be heard?
Mr.Hassan mentioned that in the short term, there is a speaking app. Youth can speak through it with each other and empower each other to be heard. In the long term, it should be portable and if they want to be heard then they have to be present in parliament. In the cabinet, if they want to be heard by the decision-maker of the government then they should support women. 50% of the women and youth participation are there in parliament and their voice must be heard.
The discussion among the experienced panelists certainly helped us to learn a lot and gave an insight into the learning skills. The Country- Specific Panel session was ended in an intellectual, very interactive, and insightful way. It was indeed an excellent conversation with inspiring young youths for sharing their perspective on Youth, Education, and Employment for productive engagement in the platform of the South Youth Asian Festival 2020.