Policy Café on Youth in Community Development

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The Policy Café on ‘Youth in Community Development’ was held on 11 February, 2015 at Radisson Blu, Dhaka, organized by Centre for Research and Information (CRI). At the program, Mr. Sajeeb Wazed Joy was as the chief discussant along with the government representatives from different ministries, some youth leaders as panelist and also the participation of around 120 countrywide youth representatives who are working in different sectors on community development.

Main objectives worked behind this Policy café:
• To bring out and disseminate the championing role played by the youth for community development
• To know the concerns and ideas of youth leaders engaged in community development (and the challenges they face regarding community works).
• To identify the current policy approaches & initiatives of the government bodies concerning the said area and what government is doing to accelerate community development in general; particularly using the youth force.

The program was fully interactive with open discussion among the chief guest, government representatives, youth leaders, panelists and the participants from youth organizations.The overall discussion was on what government is doing for community development and on what are the scopes to engage the youth in government initiatives.

The field level experience in community development was shared by youth leaders from the panelists who have been working in different projects like Amar Desh Amar Gram Project on helping farmers through online marketing, Shikkhya on high school science education and Suchinta Foundation on preserving and reviving history of liberation war.

The main highlight was the successful stories of the youth who are working voluntarily for the community in different sectors like education, environment, ICT, waste management, health and social exclusion. More wonderful initiatives are undertaken by the youth which are mentioned in the following:
• Ensuring Education for disabled children,
• Creating awareness on waste management,
• Providing health awareness on cervical cancer and other diseases,
• Campaign against early marriage
• Education for the children of slum dwellers through night schooling
• Preservation of true history of liberation war for future generation
• Community radio to reach to the unheard voices
• Campaign on Hepatitis B
• Working for children to orient on moral education
• Providing training to the deprived people from tea garden
• Education for the illiterate adults

Additionally, they also shared their experiences and the challenges they face while working for community development. Some challenges are as bellow:

• Due to unavailability of fund youth are oftenfaced barriers for community work
• As soon as employment opportunities will be ensured for the youth, they will be ready to provide supports to the community
• Lack of social awareness
• Lack of sufficient resources
• Difficulties in up scaling
• Absence of comprehensive & inclusive platform
• Limited scope of coordination with public, development & corporate bodies
• Difficulties in continuing the process or work and follow up
• Sustaining the achievement
• Limited technological spaces and services
• Resistance of a government official to perform the activities properly due to negative attitude towards NGOs
• Limited library in school

Some highlights from the chief guest
Mr. Sajeeb Wazed Joy appreciated the youth who have been tremendously doing great jobs for the development of country. He mentioned that through this kind of great works by youth the dependency on external donor for local community development has been reduced. He also mentioned a fact that the initiative taken by the government is unknown to the people. For an example, there are about 25000 web portals to digitize the country. That’s why it is required to aware people about their citizen entitlement.

• Make internship compulsory on community work in different ministries.
• Policy and procedure could be flexible related to IT
• Create a national online system for the Prime Minister to get comments, suggestions and request on different needs from the rural people
• Engage youth at community level through providing training on different physio-therapy
• Select some areas only for youth while developing Annual Development Plan in different ministries as well as allocate some funds as remuneration for Youth volunteerism in community development
• Involve and engage the youth in community health management project

At the concluding part of this Policy Café a Way forward came out from the august panelists, government representatives, and youth leaders regarding how to scale up of the great initiatives done by the youth, keep continuation and create a comprehensive network for the youth.

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