SHIVANGINI GUPTA & DIVAKAR YADAV / IAT
Harnessing the potential of youth and preparing leaders for tomorrow was at the heart of the discussion during the International Youth Symposium at Galgotias College of Engineering and Technology on August 14, 2019. Youth changemakers from diverse walks of life shared their experiences and vision in the symposium. In his opening remarks Ezeugo Nmadi, Secretary General, AAYFO, emphasized on the significance of the role of youth in a country’s development. “Youth have the passion and courage to make a difference since they are more connected to real issues and can be future leaders,” he said.
The panel discussion on “Education for a Sustainable Future” saw interesting exchange of ideas. Opening the panel, Thandolwenkosi Sibanda, AAYFO Campus Ambassador, talked about the importance of youth as changemakers, the current scenario and expectations in the coming years. Chidozie Agumadu, General Secretary AASI, said that youth are the conscience of a country. “They are the voice of leaders we need. They have the power to challenge the age-old traditions and question them,” he added. Ranjan Tomar, president of NOVRA was of the view that there is a need for a change of curriculum in the education system. “The education system should nurture students with social ethics and values enshrined in our constitution and its application. Youngsters should not just focus on securing their career monetarily but also focus on collective development.” He quoted Benjamin Disraeli “Almost everything great has been done by youth.”
Himadrish Suwan, chairman of Confederation of Young Leaders (CYL), who is also a journalist, suggested the need to harness the youth force in the country. “Asia and Africa are continents of youth, these two are very young continents. Taking advantage of this demographic dividend, we can create youth leaders, who can take effective steps to solve issues of unemployment, radicalization, etc. They will be creating Asia and Africa of the 21st century with their leadership,” he said.
Shikhant Sablania from the great African caravan, who is an engineer turned artist and traveler, shared his experiences and how he shifted his field to satiate his quest for adventure. He and his team of 12 artists from 7 different countries have come together to travel by road to different countries and collaborate with the local artist to create a piece of art – be it a song or a comic. A firm believer in Ubuntu philosophy from Africa, which says “I exist because you exist”, he commented that we work for someone else, when we are young and energetic and when we get old we focus on ourselves, which then becomes impossible. ‘It should be another way around,’ he said.
During the discussion on ‘Education for a Sustainable Future’, Dr. Chris Nwanoro MFR, founder, Lotus Initiative for the Blind, shared the importance of education for a better future, and to build bridges between the two continents. “With sustainable development, we should look for environment-friendly methods to proceed towards development. Only then we can expect a secured future for our youth, there should be methods to control pressing environmental challenges like air pollution.”
Subrahmanyam Pulipaka, chairman of IA-YEF said that skill enhancement is the key to youth development. Most of the demography of Africa and India fails in terms of skill sets. For this, the education system needs to be revamped. “The education system should focus on sector based skill development. For instance, the telecom industry is doing well and has created many employment opportunities, similarly many other industries are being created, so where are the job opportunities from these sectors are going, and tapping those opportunities should be the main concern?”
Ankita Nawalakha, who joined Teach for India fellowship in her second year of college and then subsequently became a Program manager before taking up ‘The New Education Project’, talked about the importance of economics, environment and social justice as three major buckets of sustainable development goals. She shared how jobs opportunities in India or the world will be obsolete by 2030 due to the introduction of AI-based machines. “The only thing which makes us different from those machines are our creativity, critical thinking and ability to connect with people. Marks are not the basis of landing a great opportunity at a job anymore.” She shared a story of one of her students, who was 12-years-old. Her elder sister was raped in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad area due to the absence of streetlights. She along with the help of her other friends collected data on the street light of that area and created a report. She then proceeded to protest in front of the area MLA, who then installed streetlights on most of the roads in the area.
The panel discussion concluded with Angad Anand, AAYFO Country Director, remarks on the need to inculcate ethics among youth. “While working with Teach for India, once I asked the kids what they understand from the term “fortune”. A girl replied it is a type of oil. Though it may sound funny to many, it is a serious issue that children these days are not aware of the technology and not updated with the terms. Even when we were in grade V, we were taught about Zebra crossing. But nobody bothers to stop before zebra crossing for the pedestrians.” The symposium concluded with felicitation of the speakers and environment goodwill ambassadors from NUYS. During the symposium a group of Monks was also invited on the stage to speak and perform, in their native language.
The symposium was organised by Africa-Asia Youth Foundation – AAYFO. The foundation is a convergence of progressive thinking African And Asian youths agreeing to forge a common goal in fostering youth cooperation between both continents haven identified key areas of exchange in Education, Culture, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Research & Development to spur sustainable growth and development in alignment with UN Agenda 2030.