Tag Archives: Youth

Pakistan | Youth Resources: Untapped Potential

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A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz

Preamble

PAKISTAN is fortunately placed at an envious demographic position as one of the “youngest nations on Planet Earth” with nearly 70% of the population below the age of 35. In fact, the peak youth share is around 21% within the ages of 15-24. The advantage of a young population should enable the country’s planning managers and policymakers to prepare a visionary agenda taking into account the benefits, potential, and value of this young force.

Present Scenario

PAKISTAN is still unable to enjoy the demographic dividend that this young population can bring. The pathetic educational system in the country does churn out graduates but most of them are not worth having within the working environment. Technical training centers are set up all over the country managed by the various provincial authorities. At the same time, organizations such as Skill Development Councils have played a defined role in providing skill development and vocational training opportunities to the youth. The Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Program (BBSYDP) is a visionary and practical initiative undertaken for the youth of Pakistan. Moreover, the employment opportunities for the youth, at this moment in time, are relatively very few, very uncertain, and very low paying. In fact, the absorption of youth in the labor market has been limited to a large extent.

Present Challenges

PAKISTAN is in the midst of the unrest being generated by the sense of deprivation and dejection faced by the youth. The young people are entering or ready to enter the job market and are waking up to the stark reality that jobs are scarce, that they are not properly trained to deal with the available jobs, and that they are not sure of the tenure of the position if they are lucky to land a job.

PAKISTAN is at a crossroads when it comes to handling the youth. The benefits of the demographic dividend are not possible if the youth do not enter the labor market, but then if there are no opportunities to become economically active then the youth would be stranded and lost at sea. This here is the challenge. Youth unemployment is endemic and continues to rise. The rhetorical statements of politicians assuring the youth that jobs would be available become stale news once these politicians are safely ensconced behind the portals of power. The dissatisfaction among the youth increases especially when they are exposed to the electronic media that is showing them a different world and in the process creating wants and desires which cannot be satisfied.

PAKISTAN is also subject to other negative outcome of the frustration of these young people. These youth become readily available fodder for extremist forces who take advantage of this deplorable situation. At the same time, many youth, especially in urban areas, have become unwilling partners in crime and this is substantiated by the phenomenal increase in street crimes and petty burglaries. The proliferation of drug use among the youth is a matter of serious concern too.

PAKISTAN is also beset by other factors that have impacted negatively on the economic viability of this country. The billions that are spent on the Global War on Terror, the burgeoning inflationary trends, the pressure on the currency, the increasing cost of petroleum imports, the physical infrastructure handicap, the dependence on borrowings from the multilateral agencies resulting in a dictated economic policy framework, the disconnect between the provinces due to parochial and ethnic compulsions, the political instability, and the excessive non-developmental expenditure, have not only been demoralizing but have seriously affected the viability and sustainability of trade and industry. Unemployment has become the Number One cause of gloom and doom among the populace.

The Way Forward

PAKISTAN government must plan and promote the National Agenda for Youth Resources (NAYR), in consultation with industrial and trade associations, WEBCOP, economists, and educationists, etc. There is an imperative and urgent need to focus on the various modalities and concepts that would enable the formulation and implementation of the NAYR. The major areas would be:

(a) Ensuring literacy

(b) Provision of skill development and vocational training

(c) [Alternatively, entrepreneurship development]

(d) Internship and practical training

(e) Placement opportunities

PAKISTAN is endowed with talent and resources, both natural as well as human. There is a high priority requirement to indulge in out-of-box thinking and prepare this NAYR. The major areas enumerated above can be further elaborated as follows:

PAKISTAN policymakers have to revisit their educational priorities. A sad reality is that the allocations for education in the Federal as well as Provincial budgets diminish every year. The dismal environment in the government-owned schools has affected the proper schooling of children and this has been transformed into a horrific foundation for the youth. At the same time, most of the private schools profess to provide superior education but the cost to parents is alarming, Of course, the educational institutions set up by social or community-based organizations are playing a paramount role in providing decent education. It is proposed that trade and industry associations, chambers, as well as large enterprises must be mandated to set up educational institutions on their own or must financially support organizations such as Citizen’s Foundation so that quality education becomes universally available.

PAKISTAN government must ordain TEVTAs that have been set up in every Province to initiate projects on Private-Public Partnership basis to modernize, upgrade, and renovate the existing technical and vocational training institutions and also must prepare and plan centers and curricula in consultation with WEBCOP and Skill Development Councils as well as trade associations so that the Pakistani youth can enter the global economy as a well-trained and tested professional.

PAKISTAN has a functioning Higher Education Commission and this organization must assist and direct the various educational institutions to develop alternate programs to introduce and impart knowledge-based education to inculcate entrepreneurship in the youth of Pakistan. This would enable trained or skilled youth to become owners rather than depending on employment.

PAKISTAN has not been successful in ensuring that most of the present technical institutions have a working relationship with trade, industry, or the service sectors whereby programs could be planned to provide on-job-training as well as practical working knowledge of the concerned skill. There is also no system of mentoring the youth. This gap has to be reduced and it is essential that the trainee is able to obtain this hands-on facility and resource.

PAKISTAN political government must ensure that it is essential to take on board the chambers and associations to come up with a systematic and pragmatic program that would encourage the members of the associations and chambers to tap into the pool of these trained or skilled youth and utilize them in their establishments. However, it is pertinent to note that market-demand skills should be taught to the youth rather than depending on outdated or routine curriculum.

Essential Areas of Employment

PAKISTAN policymakers have to accept that the objective of NAYR would be to ensure that training is provided in sectors that conform to the requirements of the global economy as well as addressing the cultural, traditional, and national dynamics of the country. It would be beneficial to the nation, to the individual and to the employer.

PAKISTAN has a strong agriculture base. The youth should be trained in operating equipments that are imperative for mechanized farming. This would increase productivity as well as streamline the cultivation of various crops. Training in proper usage of fertilizer, seeds, and other inputs would surely make a marked influence on the economies of the rural areas. At the same time, there is immense scope in fruits and vegetables, right from plucking down to the eating. The fruit and vegetable farms can provide much needed employment to the young people.

PAKISTAN is also increasing its share in the services sector. Educated youth can fill the demand for human resources in various fields in the services sector. Call centers, software programming, hotel and restaurants, sales representatives, cell phone repairs, food catering, enumerators, security services, event management, and transport drivers are areas where formidable job opportunities can be created.

PAKISTAN is going to witness a boom in construction, especially in low-cost housing. There is a backlog of over nine million housing units that have to be built to cope up with housing demands. Private sector is ready to provide training for trades associated with the construction industry. Skilled operators are required for bulldozers, dumpers, loaders, and other construction equipment. BBSYDP does provide short term training for masons, plumbers, electricians, floor tilers, painters, etc. At the same time, there would be ample job opportunities in cement, paint, sanitary fittings, cables, fans, geysers, tiles, and other nearly 40 industries due to the housing boom. There are not that many skilled workers at present to cope up with the upcoming demand by the housing sector.

Conclusion

PAKISTAN can get out of the economic morass if concerted efforts are made with passion and with sincerity. It is also incumbent upon the youth to be serious in acquiring the skills and knowledge to prepare for a career in their chosen fields. Needless to mention, a working youth will generally not resort to fraternizing with extremist elements nor would the youth subscribe to unethical and objectionable activities if one is busy with his vocation. It is only then that Pakistan will greatly gain from and benefit from the demographic dividend deriving from the large potent youth population. The Great Poet Allama Iqbal expressed his admiration for those young people who are achievers:

Mohabat mujhe oon jawano se hai
Sitaron pe jo daaltay hain kamund

 

Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of BBSYDP Sindh

Views expressed in guest posts are the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of DiscoMaulvi and From The Pulpit…

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A new session Of Active Saturdays starts 22 January 2011 | Karachi Pakistan Islam

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In 2002 (or was it 2001? I forget), a group of guys got together and started a small program for young men. The concept was to provide a place to hang out on Saturday afternoons, while learning something about Islam. In addition, it would provide the youngsters some role models who would be from all walks of life and demonstrate that one can be a practicing Muslim while working in a professional capacity or being an entrepreneur (or being a Blogger like DiscoMaulvi).

Forward a few years and Active Saturdays has now become a program that is held on a semester basis, with a special deen-intensive Summer course titled Islamic Fundamentals and a road trip titled Sirat-e-Mustaqim (I was on the 2005 trip and it was great!).

The program is held every Saturday from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at two locations:

  • Reflections, near CBM, Korangi Creek (with a Pick & Drop option from Sultan Masjid)
  • Role Model Institute, 38-Y, PECHS (Near Union Club)

 

 

Active Saturday

 

The program attempts to provide physical activity, interactive discussions, social as well as informative field trips, and various topics both Islamic and pertaining to self-improvement / leadership. The program places strong emphasis in leadership and many of its students are now “teachers”, serving as a role model for new generations of students enrolling.

For more information on the program, head over to their website, or contact Tayyab at 0321-244-7198 or 0331-227-3427.

Where Does Our Responsibility Lie?

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Guest Post by
Afnan Ahmed

Afnan Ahmed
Afnan Ahmed

We all are well aware of the critical situation our beloved country, Pakistan is facing. Every other day there are rumors that Pakistan will not survive in future. The country behind all of this is none other than our neighbor, India. Our government still insists that Indians have no such intentions; however, we all know very well that India was never our friend and never will be. Pakistan was created after partitioning the sub-continent, that is, India who opposed the partition till the end when it seemed an inevitable event. We all are acquainted with the bloody trail that links our independence.

A person, who leaves his house nowadays to go to work, does not know if he will return to his family. Suicide bombers haunt our lives day and night. We are torn between who to believe and where to go. We don’t know what we are going to give to the next generation that is yet to come. Political uncertainty for the past few years has ruined our day to day lives.

Now the questions arise: What are we to do in the present circumstances? Where does our responsibility lie? Are we to sit hand-on-hand and curse our government of their policies or shall we do something constructive of our own in order to make a difference?

I believe that we, the youth of Pakistan have a huge responsibility on our shoulders. The future of our country lies in our hands. Most will be keen to let Pakistan go into turmoil, saying what Pakistan has given them, however, I believe that what we are today, we are because of Pakistan. Even if we go abroad and settle there, we will always be Pakistani. Pakistan has given us what no other country could give us, that is, an identity. What I mean to say is that how can we neglect the sacrifices that were made by our elders to give us a free land to live.

We all are quite impressed by the Europeans and Indians. We all like to watch their movies, that’s fair enough but we should not forget our true identity. We should keep in mind that rather than cursing our government we need to make a difference ourselves. We are always condemning what we see around us that is: illiteracy, terrorism, litter (garbage) etc; yet we do not think about doing something our self. I know we cannot do anything about terrorism except praying but what we can do is that we can teach our servant’s children to read and write and we can stop throwing litter on the roads. Although we can not bring a subsequent change, we can teach our younger generation so that a well-civilized society could be established in a not too distant future. We can create awareness among others to be conservative and less wasteful.

The load-shedding is another concern as it has developed into a threat; however most of us point our fingers at the government and the KESC rather than conserving electricity ourselves. We need to stop stealing and wasting electricity if we want to see this issue resolved. It’s very easy to complain about others but it’s very difficult to correct ourselves. The traffic signal has become another issue nowadays as mostly people derive others of their right at the signal. The majority of accidents that occur these days are due to overlooking the traffic rules and being ignorant. At this issue even, we accuse the government nevertheless the fault is ours and only we can rectify this issue.

Afnan Ahmed is a 16 year-old resident of Karachi, who recently completed his O-Levels from the Beaconhouse School System. He is also a former participant in the Active Saturdays program. He believes if we do not stand up for this cause right now, then we might never be able to see Pakistan as we want it. It is his hope that it will create awareness among our youth and drive them in making Pakistan, a better place to live. Please remember him in your prayers.

 

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Seeing Life in a New Light

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In August 1997, when I was about to leave for the United States for higher education, a lot of things were going on in my life. I had just recovered from a bout of Typhoid and Jaundice; I had screwed up my A-Levels exams; I was recovering from a broken heart and I was travelling hundreds of miles away from my home leaving family, friends and culture. My destination was a small city in the state of North Carolina called Raleigh. On the one hand, while I was sad to leave everything behind, I was also excited to go to ‘the land of opportunity’. Indeed at that time, my perception of America was a place where I would be free from the Pakistani society, and would be able to attend parties and ‘hang out’ with beautiful girls. Indeed until a few weeks back that was how my entire life was structured. I would go to parties on weekends, mingle with all these girls and generally have a lot of fun.
Amidst all this, I also became part of the growing Muslim community in Raleigh. I would go to the mosque every Friday, sit there, listen to what the Imam said in his speech and offer the prayer. I had grown up in a Muslim country, and hence took Islam as something that is there and a part of my life. However, aside from praying every day and fasting during the month of Ramadan, I seriously lacked any knowledge of what Islam really was. Here in a country filled with non-Muslims, I saw things I had never seen in a Muslim country. People would treat the mosque as a community center as well as a place of worship. People weren’t seen as Pakistanis, Indians, Arabs or Americans but were looked upon as Muslims. Regardless of their physical and cultural roots and regardless of the differences in the way they interpreted Islam, they were all one big community. Nobody was Sunni or Shia; nobody was Barelvi or Deobandi; everybody was Muslim.
Before returning to Karachi this summer, I had already started taking interest in what I practised and I started looking for knowledge. On the surface, I was still the same, going to parties and generally just being as I always was. But inside me there was a big change taking place. My whole way of thinking instead of being centered on my pleasure and my convenience was starting to center on Islam. Then I stopped going to parties and other places where I thought I would start doing something that is Haram. I started taking an active interest in the Muslim Students Association on the campus. As I researched and delved deeply into the root of my religion, I started to fear Allah more and more. The prayer was no longer a chore I had to perform 5 days a week, but a means of asking the Almighty for help.
My new way of thinking however disturbed all those who knew me. My family sent me e-mails asking me if I had suddenly become a ‘Tabhlighi’. My response was that I had not become ‘Tabhlighi’, but rather I had become a ‘better Muslim’. I was talking to my oldest friend one night and my new way of thinking certainly reflected in what I was saying because he asked me a question: ‘Are you alright?’ My response was Alhamdulillah I couldn’t be better. Another question that I was asked by my family was: ‘How did this happen?’ It happened because I started to research in what I claimed to believe but had no understanding of. I started to implement those beliefs in my life and slowly but steadily, the change became apparent. One of the main things that had kept me from implementing those beliefs was that in Pakistan anybody who starts to implement the rules of Qur’an and Sunnah in his life is branded as a ‘Mulla’ or a ‘Tabhlighi’. He is then cast aside by the society as a misfit and shunned by his own family.
Isn’t it funny that we call our country ‘The Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ but Islam is the thing that is lacking here? What we need is Islam. An Islamic state is not where our rulers steal from our coffers, or where alcohol flows like water behind closed doors. Neither is it the state where the young attend parties and both genders mix freely in an attempt to be cool. Islam needs to be implemented in our hearts and minds not just in our laws.
Therefore, I implore all of you to use your brains that Allah has given you and study the Qur’an and Sunnah. In addition to studying it, please try to implement it in your life to make it better. Insha’Allah the reward for this will come in the Hereafter.

Article published in Business Recorder (October 1998)
Article published in Renaissance (January 1999)

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Aqim Salatak – Say Your Prayers Before Your Prayers Are Said

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Last night I was forwarded a video on Facebook that I found deeply disturbing. Disturbing because it reminded me of the many times in my life that I too had skipped or delayed saying my Salat (Arabic for prayers).

This video is an effort of the team of Aqim Salatak (Arabic for “Establish Prayer”) who believe:

“If we can convince people to eat and drink through advertising, then it is even more important to convince them to pray”

Unfortunately, their website is in Arabic but they do have a fan page on Facebook.

The video is part of many that have been placed on TV and the internet to raise awareness among the youth of the importance of praying.

Another video from them shows a group of Soccer players playing an intense game. On timeout, they all gather to pray together. The aim is to promote that no matter where you or what you are doing, at the time for Salat, one should stop and pray.

These videos are a wonderful idea and should be translated in English and other local languages to enhance their message.

May Allah reward the creators of these videos. Their efforts will help many return to prayer.

Other People Who Have Appreciated These Efforts

Noble initiative — TV ads prod people to pray (Arab News)
Aqim Salatak – UAE Kitten

Aqim Salatak – Saudi Arabian Prayer Campaign
Aqim Salatak – Establish Your Prayer Videos
Saudi TeleVision Public Service Annoucements: Pray Before It Is Too Late!

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