12:00 AM, June 13, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 13, 2010

Youths for development

British Council study reveals 74pc not interested in politics

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Staff Correspondent

A survey revealed that three-quarters of the youth in Bangladesh are not interested in politics but a whooping 79 percent are interested in development.
They think they have little or no influence over government decisions.
The British-Council-commissioned survey also points out that young people are happy in the country but a large portion of them would prefer to live abroad for better job opportunities and education facilities.
Only one in four young people in Bangladesh would firmly agree with the statement, "I am interested in politics". The other three would express indifference and be unsure about their capacity to influence national decisions.
Less than one-third of the youth did not expect to become involved in political activities, suggested the survey. Another one-third, however, said they should be involved in politics.
Only one-tenth of the surveyed youths said they are involved in political activities.
The first-ever nationwide survey of its kind, titled "Bangladesh: The Next Generation", collected opinions of the young to help find out what the future adults do, say, think and want. The survey result was unveiled at the Sheraton Hotel in the city yesterday.
Speaking as the chief guest at the unveiling programme, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said, "I do not believe that the youth do not have any capacity to influence decision-making. It was their decision to elect this government after all."
They are just not aware about their capacity to influence government decisions, she said.
The survey interviewed 2,166 young people between the age of 15 and 30 at their work, educational institutes and homes in 2009. The data of the survey was processed by a taskforce represented by leaders in different scientific, economic, social, cultural and business fields.
"There are grounds for optimism," said The Hunger Project Country Director Badiul Alam Majumdar, adding, "Seventy-nine percent of the youth are interested in development issues and 70 percent think the country is headed in the right direction."
"There are fears too," he said, adding that 60 percent of the youth fear corruption will worsen in the next five years.
"But our youth have a clear identity, are happy and are dedicated to their country and families," said Badiul, also a member of the taskforce.
Another member of the taskforce Sheela Tasnim Haq of The Asia Foundation said, "This is a generation that wants to get involved."
"A striking 98 percent want to take part in social work. But in reality, 70 percent don't, and 94 percent couldn't name a youth-based organisation or movement," she said.
The survey suggests 88 percent young Bangladeshis are happy with their lives but 41 percent said they would prefer to live abroad eyeing better pay and education facilities. Only 1.6 percent said they are very unhappy in the country.
As much as 36 percent of the respondents said they believe student politics has a detrimental effect on educational institutions and another 38 percent expressed "strong feelings" about student politics.
Only 15 percent of the respondents seem to think student politics is a good thing. Of them, 25 percent, however, said student politics should be free from political party influence.
Majority of the young chose Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Kazi Nazrul Islam as their role models. However, 17 percent of the young people surveyed revealed that they do not have a national role model. US President Barack Obama was revealed as the most preferred international role model.
According to the study, 73 percent of the youth own a mobile phone but 85 percent said they do not use the Internet.
"The report is a rich food for thought," said British High Commissioner Stephen Evans.
It does not try to be prescriptive, rather it gives statistical information that would make people think and is bound to be a topic of debate in the future, he said.
British Council Director Charles Nuttall, noted music personality Ayub Bachchu and Active Citizen and Youth Representative Tisha Meheralso spoke at the result unveiling programme.

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