A salute to all youth! | Daily News

A salute to all youth!

World’s valuable reserve of human capital!

Hi there all you youthful guys and gals! Allow me to offer you the felicitations of the world for today, Monday. August 12 which has been exclusively dedicated to you. In case you were unaware of what I am talking about let me explain that I am referring to International Youth Day, IYD.

Every year, on this day, the world raises a toast to you as well as raising awareness about issues that affect you. You see, it isn’t just a celebration providing you with a chance to change the world but an opportunity to change your life as well. The celebrations spearheaded by the United Nations organises events in most corners of the earth and each year has a designated theme.

This year, the theme of International Youth Day is: ‘Transforming education’ which highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.

Inclusive and accessible education is crucial to achieving sustainable development and can play a role in the prevention of conflict. It also promotes poverty eradication, good health, gender equality and decent work.

The current generation of youth is the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest. As such considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative.

Another Security Council Resolution recognises that the scale and challenges of sustaining peace requires partnerships between stakeholders, including youth organisations. It also reaffirms the important role youth can play in deterring and resolving conflicts, and are key constituents in ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peace building efforts.

Why is everyone expected to care about this day for young people? One reason is because there are more youth on the planet than ever before. The UN Population Fund estimates that people inhabiting this earth between the ages of 10 and 24 number 1.8 billion. Now considering your sheer numbers if each of you does something to help your community, just imagine the difference you can make in the world.

It is true that youth unemployment has already been hitting record highs with predictions that the problem will be getting worse. That is why the world is being exhorted to create opportunities for young people to build intellect, skills and confidence. And involving them in debates about local and global issues is more important than ever. That is another reason why the day is reserved for the whole world to be reminded to recognise how brilliant and important young people such as you are to the world.

IYD focuses on the rights of these young people to have full access to education, adequate healthcare, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in public life. In a climate of economic uncertainty, it is all the more important for countries to invest in opportunities for their youth to learn, earn and grow so that the common future lies in good hands.

It is just one of the many extensive efforts of the UN to help member states reach out to their youth. Along with ensuring their rights, an equally important goal of IYD is to shape the youth not just as a passive beneficiary of development efforts, but as a force for positive social change. They are a source of innovation, creativity, energy and foresight, and all states must use all means possible to foster and harness the power of the youth. These are the ideals of International Youth Day.

No one in his right mind would deny the young their licence to enjoy life to its fullest. After all, it is said that joy is the Fountain of Eternal Youth. We would have a very jaded younger generation if it has lost its nerve and swerve. Surely we have all been there and have savoured the delights of youthful bliss and elation with an aching nostalgia.

Time was not long ago when adolescence was compounded by excitement and high-spirited capers, all indulged in with a kind of energetic innocence. But for many baby boomers those were spacious times that held a great many values which have eroded with the passage of time. It is also true that in today’s world, youth are likely to encounter more ethical and moral temptations, greater spiritual battles, and more emotional and relational struggles than any other generation in history.

You young people are not only our future, you are our present. Our planet has never been so young, with 1.8 billion young women and men. You are the most connected, the most outspoken and the most open-minded generation the world has ever seen.

You are powerful agents of positive change, essential to taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is not enough to hope for a better tomorrow you must act now. Change is underway, and millions of citizens are already transforming the way we produce, consume, behave and communicate.

There are countless initiatives like this, all giving shape to a new humanism, to new forms of solidarity and citizenship to combat poverty, marginalization and despair.

Everyone appears to be focusing on building on the assets we hold within our own small universe. These include property, machinery, markets and raw materials among other resources, which are all acquirable through artificial sources. Everyone is quick to concentrate on this capital. But if we aim to accomplish any real progress it is imperative that we focus our attention on our youthful human capital, which is the most vital component for the success of any nation.

In Sri Lanka for instance we are in desperate need of an abundance of a well qualified intellectual nucleus to make the country a leading destination for multinationals to outsource their professional services in the fields of accountancy, information technology, medicine, law and banking. This refers to the potential executive and managerial high-end of the intellectual stratum. But identical priority should be extended to the other level of the dwindling services and labour market which is equally significant if the country is to achieve rapid economic growth in the years to come.

There are also young people whose chances of participating in the human capital formation have been lost due to lack of opportunities to further their educational and vocational skills because of the woeful system of our education. All this meant that a major slice of potential contributors to human capital has gradually diminished.

Optimism and confidence do not mean we minimise the challenges ahead. Most young people live today in least developed countries, and shoulder the heaviest burden of conflicts and poverty. There can be no sustainable development if you remain on the side-lines.

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