LAHORE: The Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG) at Forman Christian College, Lahore held a consultative workshop on “Positive Youth Development and Community Engagement” on October 12th, 2017, which was attended by US Consul General (CG) Elzabeth Trudeau.
The event was held with the support of the USAID to bring together youth leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), development practitioners, the private sector, and government officials to discuss the issues facing Pakistani youth and to share lessons learned on positive youth development and community engagement. It was meant to be an informal opportunity for organisations engaged either directly or indirectly with the youth to learn from one another and to discuss policy prescriptions going forward.
Trudeau found the event timely and refreshing, particularly the presence and participation of the students. She said, “It is very clear the future of Pakistan lies in what we offer the youth, the opportunities we provide and also how we listen to them”. She also said that the importance of dialogue could not be overstated when it came to youth development.
The event was divided into two sessions. In the first session, an overview of the status of the youth and youth affairs in the country, as well as USAID’s work in the areas of civil society engagement and youth, were discussed. Welcoming all the participants and panelists to the event, Dr Shafqat said that holding this workshop on youth engagement is an important occasion for the CPPG as the programme is in its tenth years. Following that, Raza Shamsi, regional convener of Lahore chapter of USAID Alumni Association, appreciated the participants and gave a brief introduction to the activities taking place under this chapter.
The second session comprised of a panel discussion. The panelists were Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan (Ex-vice chancellor, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad), Beaconhouse National University Vice Chancellor Shahid Hafeez Kardar, Advisor to Minister Youth Affairs Punjab Salma Butt, Elizabeth Trudeau, Punjab USAID Provincial Director Lea Swanson and Syed Babar Ali.
During the panel discussion, a number of issues such as lack of opportunity, limited skill development programmes, marginalisation of rural youth and gender disparity were raised, both by the panelists and the audience. A stronger role of the civil society, the need for standardised education and for raising political awareness among the youth, employment creation, linking education to employment, and the need for constructive activities for youth on and off campuses were some of solutions that were debated.
Swanson spoke about the power of individuals as the building blocks of society and said, “institutions and organisations, including educational institutions, are all made up of individual people so the change always comes down to how hard it is to change yourself and your own attitude.”