International Youth Day: Challenges and Opportunities for Pakistani Youth
International Youth day is celebrated annually on the 12th of August to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrates the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society. The day gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions, and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal, and equitable engagement. The day was established by the UN General Assembly, which on 17 December 1999, endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth calling for 12 August to be declared International Youth Day.
Pakistan is the fifth largest ‘young country’ in the world. A United Nations Population Fund report claims that out of 200 million people, 63% of Pakistan’s population comprises youth. Approximately, two-thirds of the total population is below the age of 30. This represents a uniquely valuable opportunity as young Pakistanis can greatly contribute to country’s growth and development. A greater proportion of young people is considered to be a major economic driver for growth and progress. Pakistan is blessed with talent. It is a nation where creative flair surpasses expectations, where academic records are set and then broken, and where Nobel prizes are won, all at a very young age. Young stars of Pakistan like Arfa Karim (Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional at age of 9), Haris Khan (Youngest Smartphone Developer at the age of 11), Iman Qureshi (A Talent Star at the age of 11), Imran Qureshi (A Tennis Star at the age of 11), Hassan Syed (The Winner of DOTA 2 Asian Championship), Haroon Tariq (The World Record Holder of 87 A’s in O levels), Mehak Gul (Youngest Representatives at The World’s Chess Olympiad), M Rashid Naseem (Taekwondo Master holds 70 Guinness world records), Talha Talib (First ever Bronze Medal for Pakistan – World Weightlifting Championship), Arshad Nadeem (Commonwealth gold medalist in Javelin throw), Muhammad Nooh Butt (Commonwealth gold medalist in weightlifting), and many more who have marked their names in history internationally.
Pakistan has some of the greatest demographic opportunities for development in the world. The demographic dividend can only be achieved with the help of adequate investment in education and imparting skills to harvest the fruits of long-term human capital development. Instead of letting the young population be distracted by the pseudo-liberals and anti-Pakistan propagandists, they should be supported on the national level to achieve milestones based on their talents.
Pakistan Armed Forces have contributed a lot to the development of young people with the help of various initiatives. One of such initiatives was National Amateur Short Film Festival (NASFF). It was conceived in November 2020 as a joint initiative of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and ISPR, so that the talent and creativity of the Pakistani youth could be appropriately harnessed. The platform targets students who choose Film and TV production, and Mass Media Communication as their professional careers, and has since received the attention of thousands of aspiring filmmakers. The project aims at seeking domestic ingenuity and creativity leading to capacity building of emerging Pakistani filmmakers and proliferating social media platforms with positive content on Pakistan. ISPR is in the leading role for this initiative and is trying to contribute as much as it can towards youth development.
Moreover, the Armed Forces have contributed a lot to educating the youth of Pakistan. Pakistan Armed Forces’ educational setups are not only imparting quality and modern education but also contributing immensely to the national cause by imparting education to 759,426 students up to HSSC level (2% of the 39.58 Million student population) and 71,411 students of higher education level (3.25% of 2.18 Million student population).
Army Public School and College System (APSACS) is the largest contributor to national integration, maintaining a countrywide footprint and imparting uniform, quality education to students of varied socio-eco backgrounds at affordable costs (50% less in comparison to equivalent system).
APSACS is contributing to 200 institutions providing education to 258,316 students (46% belonging to the non-military background and maintaining 23 schools in border regions.) The system is sustained through Army resources, with approximately Rs 831 Million annual expenditure on the pretext of cost-effective education vis-à-vis comparative education systems.
Educated Youth is the future of Pakistan and every institution should work to promote the talent of young people to provide Pakistan with a better future. The next generation will decide the fate of Pakistan and they should be enabled to do it in the best way possible.