There are many young role models among those voluntarily taking up social work
In South Asia, apart from Afghanistan, Pakistan has the largest fraction of youth population. The youth are the backbone of a society’s development. Many young people keep a keen eye on all that is happening in the society. With inquisitive minds, young people have the ability to think out of the box about development approaches.
In Sindh, there are numerous challenges for the youth. The lack of employment opportunities is a major hindrance to their being able to contribute to the society. In most cases, their potential is lost. In different circumstances it would have been utilised for the development of the society. Education is another prominent issue.
Despite this, the youth in Sindh, especially in the desert and barrage belt of Thar and Umerkot, are contributing to their communities’ and society’s development. In Thar, the introduction of STEM education by young leaders is contributing to better educational opportunities for many. In the education sector, young teachers are promoting innovative teaching and educational techniques using their laptops and tablets in underprivileged schools in the Thar region to enhance student learning.
In our region, there is a gap between planning to engage the youth and implementation of the strategies. We need to support our youth through initiatives that encourage youth leadership at the local level. This will encourage critical thinking at the grassroots level.
Thari youth face a number of challenges – climate change, unemployment and growing frustration leading to conflicts, even suicide. It is important that policymakers develop and implement effective policies in the interest of the youth and for sustainable development, keeping in view the ground realities of Tharparkar and other rural parts of Sindh. In 2018, Sindh’s first youth policy was developed and approved; to date it lacks a strategy to ensure inclusivity, especially for the youth from the desert regions of Sindh.
Munesh Kumar Sonaro is a differently-abled person in Umerkot contributing for improvement in the society. He offers free tuition to 15 poor students in Umerkot. An active member of the Faith Alliance for Climate Education Group of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, he has completed his residential professional development training for novice English teachers (PDNET) 2022, which is supported by Vision-Building Future.
There are many young role models like Munesh in Umerkot. They are voluntarily taking up social work. Recently, young people collected 5,000 academic and other books in a one man-one book campaign and donated those to a local library.
In Karachi, there are many other examples. Young girls in Lyari are generating awareness about the environment through innovative activities such as through their sports club and their cycling groups.
A multi-pronged strategy focusing on providing training for new skills and polishing available skills while enhancing employment structure and livelihood opportunities for the youth will help reduce frustration among the young people. It will also help in reducing extremism, violence and polarisation. We need to develop a sense of responsibility, confidence and ownership among the youth through voluntary and social services so that they can think about their future and the larger society in a conscientious manner.
The writer is based in Umerkot. He has more than 12 years of experience in the development sector. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org