The daylong Change Agents Festival organised by the Rutgers WPF Pakistan, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi and UNAIDS, opened at the Ali Auditorium of the Ali Institute of Education on Saturday in order to recognise and celebrate achievements made by the younger generation through necessary skills to take on challenging decisions in life.
The festival started with a brief description by Schools 4 Life Programme Officer Saad Haroon and was followed by an interesting debate between Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi Chairperson Dr Narmeen Hameed, UNAIDS Country Coordinator Marc Saba and RutgersWPF Pakistan Country Representative Qadeer Baig.
The conversation highlighted the involvement of the youth to actively participated for a positive social change and the responsibility lies with the older generation. They stressed the need for inclusion of life skills as part of the normal curriculum in all schools. Hosts Mayam Amjad and Naveed Raza engaged the participants in an energetic manner.
Under the Schools4Life Programme, Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) curriculum addresses the topics of increasing relevance to young people including gender equality, human rights, sustainable development, and to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS. The students from various schools from all over the city also took part in a poster competition on Healthy Youth, Healthy Pakistan.
The poster competition was followed by skits on a variety of different social issues that circulate and exits in the society. The skits were performed by CDG Girls, Sangan Nagar, Awaz Foundation, Harm Reduction Project and Chanan Development Association. The festival also included energetic performances of Uzair Jaswal and Abdullah Qureshi besides Billy-X and other rising musicians.
The experts informed the participants that Pakistan is a young country in terms of population proportions and the youth is its most valuable asset for sustainable socio-economic development and cultural changes. According to a UNDP report, 68 percent of our population is under the age of 30, as per the federal youth policy people falling in the age of 15-39 are categorised as young population.
The realisation of the true potential of these young individuals can only be made possible through proper guidance, education and their involvement in the challenges faced by Pakistan. The festival aimed to highlight efforts and commitments by the Agents4Change who are part of the Schools4Life Programme towards raising awareness among their peers and community on HIV & AIDS.
The Schools4Life is part of an international programme that is implemented in 24 countries which actively involves young people and gives them a powerful voice in pushing back the spread of HIV and the stigma and taboos that surround it. In Pakistan, the subject of HIV/AIDS is a topic that barely is discussed openly in the society, hence creating a gap and lack of awareness on HIV/AIDS among the general population.
Through four different phases, the School4Life has reached out to more than 100 public and private sector schools.