On the fourth and fifth of June, two significant events: ‘Youth to Youth’ and ‘Youth Skill competition’ were launched, as parts of an extensive collaborative project by the Youth Affairs Department, Government of Sindh, and The Capacity Builder (TCB).
The ‘Youth to Youth Programme’ was launched by Mohsin Rizvi, Head of Programmes at The Capacity Builder. He said that the programme aims to recognise the talent and the potential within the youngsters of Pakistan and to bring it out by subjecting them to various training schemes and capacity building exercises.
Previous to the launch event, youth delegates from five districts of Sindh - including Karachi, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Khairpur and Sukkur - attended a workshop where they went through various exercises designed to help them overcome their cultural differences, and indulge in a discussion of issues and possible solutions to them. This programme claims to be an opportunity for the youth to participate with the intention of bringing a positive change to the current Pakistani society, and would also be a great way to hone their leadership skills for the future.
The Secretary of Youth Affairs, Mr. Shoaib Siddiqui, went on to add that this youth to youth initiative would provide a way for the young people from different areas of Pakistan to identify with each other and discuss the solutions to these issues to make lives around them better.
Mr. Mansoor Naz Vindhani, Director of The Capacity Builder, explained that this project was unlike other projects developed for the youth of Pakistan. While most of the programmes involved training and workshops and simply seemed to end there, this project hands over the power and responsibility to the youth, with The Capacity Builder and the Youth Affairs Department serving only as facilitators and mentors for them. Their objective is to make the youth self-aware; to help them build confidence and give them a sense of importance, so that they may tap into their potential and bring forward innovative ideas and plans, and go back to their respective districts and attempt to bring about the much-needed changes.
Aisha Akhlaq, one of the youth delegates from University of Karachi shared her views regarding the workshop where she, along with others, worked on the other issue of ‘Education and Poverty’. She has previously participated in other youth activities as well, but about this project she commented, “This one feels like it could actually work.”
The second day saw the launch of the ‘Youth Skill Competition’ project. Mr. Vindhani outlined the future plan of establishing a Youth Forum consisting of 32 youth delegates, emphasising that no discrimination would be made against the delegates from the rural and interior areas of Sindh, whose education is not exactly up to par with other highly educated urban delegates.
This skills competition involved eight categories: Environment and Agriculture, Education and Entrepreneurship, Science and Technology, Media and Communications, Arts and Culture, Social Justice and Community Development, Sports and Recreation, Banking and Commerce. The session highlighted the contributions made to some of these categories. With respect to this, a student of NED University, Zohaib Khan, was invited up on stage to talk about the trials and tribulations he faced in the construction and presentation of his self-made car. Within the programme there were three short-listed entries, as well as a verification of the short-listed projects, after which a board decided who the receivers of the awards - Platinum, Gold, or Silver - would be. Mr. Rizvi maintained that he saw this project as a way to bring forward the “uniqueness of Pakistan” and saw it as “a ray of hope for the capacity building of the youth”.
Mr. Shoaib Siddiqui once again stressed the need to give the youth importance, so as to help them recognise and carry out their critical, revolutionising role in society. He expressed his desire to make the Pakistani youth come out into the mainstream, to bring their ideas and skills to the forefront, saying “aik aam naujawaan bhi V.I.P. hai”. Shireen Naqvi, CEO of the School of Leadership, continued in the same vein of thought when she stepped onto the stage, garnering an enthusiastic response from the participants when she conducted an exercise in self-importance. Asking anyone who considered themselves to be important to raise their hand, she kept pressing on them to be more and do more, until a group of eager youth delegates was standing up on chairs on-stage. She drove her point home by telling the audience at large to think beyond what’s right in front of them - to try and jump to the biggest and brightest conclusion, instead of slowly trudging along a succession of small theories and ideas.
Next, among thunderous applause, Mr. Faisal Subzwari, Minister of Youth Affairs, Sindh, took the stage and ended the day’s event by reiterating the need to give importance to the youth so that they may be encouraged to bring their skills and innovations forward, and emphasised the need for role models for the young people of Pakistan, something he hoped this project would be able to achieve.
Ambitious as they are, these projects seem to be a step in the right direction. For someone like Shahjahan Leghari, a youth delegate from the Sindh Agriculture University of Tandojaam, the opportunities these programmes can bring to them make a world of difference. Shahjahan had, in the midst of the ceremony, stepped up to speak with an impassioned earnestness about the condition of the schools and universities in his region, where the rate of drop-outs keeps going higher and higher. His own experiment in ‘Agriculture’ hangs in the balance. He lamented that where he lived, he could get hold of ten guns if he wanted to, but he couldn’t acquire the one microscope that was essential to the progress of his said experiment.
There are some reservations as to whether all the promises made and the plans outlined will actually come true, but it’s off to a great beginning. It presents extremely intriguing opportunities that are sure to pique the interest of the Pakistani youth - be they educated or uneducated - and just might be able to dredge out the dormant potential within them.