The country's youth must get an environment conducive to exercising free-thinking and they will oppose anything that infringes upon their freedom of expression.
Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), made the observation yesterday at a press briefing in the capital's CIRDAP auditorium.
The briefing was held to disseminate information and experiences from the Youth Conference 2018, which was organised by the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh last month.
At the conference, about 2,000 young people from varied segments of the society spoke of their aspirations and what makes those difficult to achieve.
Those aged between of 18 and 35 should be aware of social, economic and political phenomenon and be actively engaged in national aspects if the state wants to meet the 2030s goal of economic growth, inclusive society and environment-friendly development, Debapriya said.
In this regard, he added that ahead of the 11th national election, members of the civil society want to sit with political parties so that their election manifestoes prioritise development of young people, including those from relatively backward regions.
In a statement, speakers at the briefing stressed the need for employment of the youth to achieve the target of “Leave no one behind” by 2030 through education compatible with the economic and technological development, merit-based hiring and above all their representation in the country's policymaking.
One-third of the population is between 18 and 35 years, and 80 percent of the unemployed fall within this category. The state must act to help the younger generation reach their potential to take full advantage of the demographic dividend.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said, “We have faith in the youth, which was why the conference was held.”
She said that the education system in place doesn't teach one to respect different views and beliefs and coupled with a lack of proper education and employment, the youth may go towards extremism and drug addiction. She added that the state cannot rein in those issues by using force.
On the current education system, educationist Rasheda K Chowdhury said that those who become either beneficiaries or victims of new education policies, were not engaged in formulating them.
Young people from deprived classes and communities lagging behind should be given employment opportunities through special schemes in efforts to include them in the economic growth.
To encourage entrepreneurship, a “Youth Bank” has to be established, which will provide young people with credits so that they can translate their innovative thoughts into projects and implement them, speakers said.