Many young people these days feel let down by the ‘system’. Be it the system of education, health, employment or just Government overall.
Their grievances are valid but blaming the system and taking violent or self destructive avenues to overcome the problems is obviously not the answer.
The system to its credit is not blind to the problems of the young.
Youth Business Sri Lanka (YBSL) of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs, International Alert and the Social Policy and Research Centre (SPARC) of the University of Colombo recently arranged a regional conference on Youth Affairs with delegates within the country, as well as from the Maldives and Nepal to discuss and compare notes and come up with solutions on youth issues.
|Prof.S.Hettige(Director SPARC,UOC) (R) and Anton Piyaratne (Senior lecturer SPARC,UOC)
Youth as Partners for Sustainable Development and Socio-Political Stability: Experiences and Challenges from Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, focused on lessons and experiences in: Youth policy formulation, youth issues in relation to employment and education, the role of public-private sector partnership for youth empowerment, youth entrepreneurship development and employment initiatives and conflict involving youth in peace building and national integration.
The conference was held earlier this month at the Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo.
Experts, youth activists, business leaders and senior bureaucrats from Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives took part. The delegation of officials from Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka were led by the respective Secretaries of the country’s Ministry of Youth Affairs.
Both the Ministry Secretaries of Maldives and Nepal stressed that their countries had just undergone a period of extensive change but they hoped that the challenges would be positive ones for their youth.
Sriyan Wijeyeratne, the Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka and a member of the board of Trustees, Youth Business Sri Lanka, gave the opening speech.
He stressed that this was a period of change globally and the people who were most adaptable to change are youth who need to be constructively engaged. “Finding the right balance between the wisdom of age and the exuberance of youth, will give some meaningfulness to this conference,” he said. His thoughts were were echoed by most other speakers.
During the course of the conference, a publication Rethinking the nexus between youth, unemployment and conflict, as well as a youth tabloid Dhakma (Vision) were launched.
The tabloid will be available free of charge to all youth. Due to financial constraints, it will be published initially only in Sinhala but with more resources, it is hoped that Tamil and English editions could also be launched soon.
The last speaker of the opening session was Dr. Anura Ekanayake, Vice Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. He spoke at length about the various issues facing youth. One of the most interesting points he made was about the current cultural situation of the country wherein most people had a high regard for ‘white collar jobs’ and did not wish to be seen working in ‘blue collar jobs’ even though some of those jobs have a lot of vacancies and pay well.
He stressed the need to bring dignity to certain professions as otherwise most young people would voluntarily be unemployed in their search for only office jobs.
The conference identified both with the young while also giving them an opportunity to speak, and communicate with the people behind the system who were faced with coming up with solutions for the various problems that confront youth.
Dr. Ekanayake had these words of advice for youngsters “Always depend on your own resources and try to develop yourselves to the best extent possible. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and do it for you.”