Youth Monitor: September 2022

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This monitor is meant to identify major developments in Pakistan’s youth-related issues and policies. This study will help in identifying key trends and topics of interest among the youth of Pakistan and may also contribute to removing certain hurdles that exist in the way of bringing forth pro-youth reforms.

Pakistani Youth Lands Job with Amazon

Aqsa Mughees

Despite massive economic backdowns, high crime rates and negative economic forecasts, the youth of Pakistan is still as bright and skillful. From growing massive startups without support to landing jobs in top companies such as Google and Amazon.A recent example is that of Aqsa Mughees, a Pakistani girl who just recently landed a job as a project manager in the Amazon United States[1].

Pakistan’s 11-year-old Ayesha Ayaz makes history in Taekwondo International Championship (September 02, 2022)

Ayesha Ayaz with the medal

Pakistan’s young taekwondo player Ayesha Ayaz created a history as she won gold and two other medals at the Taekwondo International Championship being held in Thailand.The 11-year-old athlete has become the first Pakistani girl to win two gold, a silver and a bronze in the world-level competition by showing outclass skills[2].

UNDP Pakistan with support from the Australian High Commission (AHC) led an initiative “Integrative Complexity Workshops” to promote critical thinking in institutes of higher learning in Pakistan. (September 05, 2022)

Group Work at the workshop

Pakistan’s education system is marred by rote learning and tutorially instilled conformity which stifles critical thinking. The system generally promotes black and white perspectives about complex issues pertaining to society, economy, culture, and politics. This not only limits the students’ worldview but also creates psychological barriers against the integration and appreciation of ideas, thoughts, and information that does not align with the society’s dominant value systems.

Approached from a peacebuilding perspective, the encounter between artificially imposed monolithic models of thinking and a world characterised by multi-layered complexities often leads to reinforcement of established ways of thinking in intense and sometimes violent ways. This concern has gained increased ascendancy in the current political and social climate, marked by increasing polarisation and resurgence of political and social groups with regressive agendas and formidable rhetoric to mobilise support, especially among youth.

This especially holds true in universities and institutions of higher learning where regressive value systems and myopic world views are often promoted by organized groups to influence students and recruit them for political ends. The situation calls for an overhaul of the educational system in Pakistan by promoting state-of-the-art learning techniques that encourage appreciation of diversity and capacitate students to critically analyse information before making decisions.

To this end, UNDP Pakistan with support from the Australian High Commission (AHC) led an initiative “Integrative Complexity Workshops” to promote critical thinking in institutes of higher learning in Pakistan. The pilot, tested to help reduce young people’s vulnerability to black and white thinking, was held with university students in Swat and Malakand[3].

Third Regional Seminar for the Asia-Pacific Region Parliaments (September 13, 2022)

Ms. Shaza Fatima, MNA, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Addressing the seminar

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Ms. Shaza Fatima Khawaja attended the Third Regional Seminar for the Asia-Pacific Region Parliaments on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals jointly organized by the National Assembly of Pakistan and the Inter-parliamentary union. To address the rising issue of inequality SAPM moderated the session on the promotion of quality education and decent work for youth[4].

PILDAT and The Body Shop (Pakistan) sign MOU to strengthen youth participation in the electoral processes (September 13, 2022)

Left to right: Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT; Mr. Saad Ullah Khan, Country Manager, Body Shop

As part of its global activism campaign, Be Seen Be Heard, the Body Shop has partnered on an Activism Campaign with the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency (PILDAT). With 64% of the Pakistani population being under 30, the youth’s input, perspectives and representation in matters that directly affect them needs to be valued. Therefore, in order to empower and involve youth in policy making, political parties should give their tickets and support to young candidates to contest in the elections of the country.

In a meeting held at PILDAT’s Head Office in Lahore, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT welcomed Mr. Saad Ullah Khan, Country Manager of the Body Shop Pakistan, Ms. Naba Taqvi, Head of Brand & Communication and Mr. Bilal Gilani, Training Manager, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement the Pakistani leg of the Be Seen Be Heard Campaign[5].

Kazakhstan-Pakistan-Turkiye Youth Forum on Biotechnology (September 14, 2022)

Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan addressing the Forum

Young Business Hub, Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum aimed at creating a bridge between young scientists of member countries for sharing of their expertise and knowledge was held in COMSTECH secretariat Islamabad. President Dr Arif Alvi in his iaugral address stressed the need for ethical and morality-based research and development in biotechnology, agriculture and virology besides fair distribution of its benefits to provide food security to the entire world without discrimination between rich and poor countries.The inaugural session was attended by members of the scientific and diplomatic community from Iraq, Turkiye, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Morocco, Russia, Jordan and Pakistan, whereas over 800 participants from 35 countries joined the event virtually[6].

40,000 youth given training under e-Rozgar program (September 21, 2022)

Malik Taimoor Masood, MPA and Provincial Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Punjab

Punjab Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Malik Taimoor Masood presided over a meeting of Provincial Youth Coordination Mechanism here at National Hockey Stadium. Presiding over the meeting  he said that Pakistan was a fortunate country for having around 63 per cent youth among its population. He said that 40,000 youth had been given entrepreneurship training under the e-Rozgar Program. We are bringing more programs to give the youth maximum opportunities to excel in their respective skills and fields. “We are ready to extend every kind of cooperation and facilitation to PILDAT, Literacy, PITB, HEC and TEVTA Departments in their upcoming youth program,” he added.The sports minister said that Youth Affairs Department Punjab, in the collaboration with the PITB, was making efforts to make the e-Rozgar project a success. “Youth of Punjab province are being imparted technical skills in various relevant fields through e-Rozgar Program. Dozens of e-Rozgar Program centres are working right now in the province where thousands of youth are earning respectable livelihood for their families”[7].

Voice of Youth Survey Carried out by Youth Parliament Pakistan

Opinion about Youth & Education

The Pakistani youth nationally and overseas provided their feedback on a range of a diverse set of questions regarding the issues in the higher education system of Pakistan. Below is their feedback on each question:

64.6% of the respondents believe that the best way to improve the quality of higher education is by improving the quality of faculty, facilities and management at higher education institutes; followed by 26.3% who are of the opinion that providing advanced training to existing staff will improve higher education in Pakistan. The above chart is a depiction of the percentage of respondents as per their preference of the mode of improvements.


When asked if, in their opinion, higher education was affordable for the youth of the country, a majority (54.5%) said that it was not affordable at all while 38.9% were of a similar opinion that higher education was moderately affordable. Only a mere 13.5% were of the opposite opinion that higher education was highly affordable for Pakistani youth.

When selecting the most pressing challenge that Covid-19 has brought to higher education in Pakistan, 28.9% of the young respondents believed that a lack of alternate learning modes and the increasing inequalities (25.4%) were the biggest challenges that youth had to face, when the Covid-19 pandemic changed the way that education and learning was conveyed to students. The least pressing challenge was the lack of social interaction and community building amongst the youth with just 2.6% of the youth selecting it as an option. The question was put forward to them in order to seek their views and perspectives regarding the challenges and how they can be tackled by the government in terms of their importance.

In light of the trends brought in the digital age and due to the pandemic, the above question was asked to see the input of youth on what sectors should the stakeholders of the higher education system and relevant government departments focus on; to which the top three responses were as follows: Information Technology (33.8%), Public Policy (18.2%) and Artificial Intelligence (17%). Many respondents also answered that emphasis should be laid on social & cultural studies as well as cyber security.

Universities are breeding grounds for leaders; it is important that youth at universities is equipped with leadership capabilities such that they are able to make effective positive change in society later on. When asked how universities can best contribute to creating a leadership culture within the institute, 36.8% advocated for reinstating student unions and 31.7% answered providing professional coaches for students’ guidance. 19.1% of the respondents were also of the belief that introducing courses on leadership development can instill leadership skills within students while just 12.4% believed that workshops on unleashing leadership potential is the best way.

When asked whether the current higher education system was producing an effective workforce that is line with the market’s required skillset, a majority (65.9%) disagreed with the statement. 29.9% agreed that the current system is producing an effective workforce already equipped with the desired skillset while 4.2% said that they were not sure.

32.5% and 32.2% of the young respondents believe that active student unions and organizing feedback sessions, respectively, are the best ways to take input of students on matters of administration. This question was asked in order to gauge the preferred methods for universities to take input of students on matters that concern them should be a top priority in universities.

An increasingly large number of youth are moving abroad in the recent years to pursue higher education. When asked what they believe their reason is to do this, 52.5% stated Pakistan’s dire economic situation & the limited prospects the youth have here to build their future as the reason behind pursuing overseas education. A better economic lifestyle (20.5%) and Pakistan’s unstable education system (19.8%) were the next two reasons stated while just 7.2% said that they studied abroad to experience life in a new country.


References

  1. Tech Juice Website https://www.techjuice.pk/how-this-30-year-old-pakistani-landed-a-job-at-amazon/ accessed on October 12, 2022

  2. Daily Pakistan website https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/02-Sep-2022/pakistan-s-11-year-old-ayesha-ayaz-makes-history-in-taekwondo-international-championship accessed on October 12, 2022

  3. UNDP Pakistan Website https://www.undp.org/pakistan/blog/how-critical-thinking-can-help-youth-avoid-conflict-and-antagonism accessed on October 12, 2022

  4. Prime Minister’s Youth Programme website https://pmyp.gov.pk/pmyphome/GetNewsDescription/25 accessed on October 12, 2022

  5. PILDAT website https://pildat.org/youth1/pildat-and-the-body-shop-pakistan-sign-mou-to-strengthen-youth-participation-in-the-electoral-processes accessed on October 12, 2022

  6. Pakistan Observer Website https://pakobserver.net/kazakhstan-pakistan-turkiye-youth-forum-on-biotechnology/ accessed on October 12, 2022

  7. Pakistan Today website https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/09/21/40000-youth-given-training-under-e-rozgar-program/ accessed on October 12, 2022https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/993537-minister-promises-youth-proper-guidance-platform accessed on October 12, 2022


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