International Youth Day, Grooming youth for a greener Pakistan
Students mark International Youth Day
Islamabad, Aug 13, 2008: A large group of
schoolchildren gathered along a section of Khayaban-e-Iqbal on Tuesday and
walked, marking the International Youth Day.
The Youth Advocacy Network
(YAN), an initiative of World Population Fund (WPF) and Capital Development
Authority (CDA), organized the event under the theme of 'Grooming youth for a
Speaking on the occasion, Mazhar Hussain, Member
Environment CDA, and SSP Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) Zubair Hashmi, stressed
the need for making the town even greener.
"Plant a tree wherever you
find space – outside your home, in the green belts or elsewhere," Hussain told
the cheering students while Hashmi pointed out that Islamabad as the entire
country needed to be made more green. "In this light the youth can play a
positive role," he said.
Last week the CDA launched its 'Clean and Green
Islamabad' campaign under which millions of trees are to be planted with
particular attention to be paid to landscaping. It would also involve creating
awareness of environmental issues.
The International Youth Day that
presents an opportunity to recognize the potential of youth and highlight their
achievements was celebrated globally with this year's theme being "Youth and
climate change – time for action."
The participants of the walk held
placards calling for involvement of youth in social development and
decision-making process and implementation of youth policy.
The walk was
delayed because of early morning rain and participation was not as strong as
anticipated by the organizers. However, the students made their presence felt
through their cheering and plantation of saplings along the
Pakistan has the largest group of youth (ages 10-24) in its history
with nearly 54.2 million individuals that constitute almost 34 percent of the
country's population. Experts point out that by 2025, the strength of this age
group would increase to 64.8 million.
Officials said that the broader aim
of the tree plantation done by students was that the schools would be looking
after them in the future, encouraging social responsibility.
Jamal, Communications Office of WPF, said that youth could play an effective
role in any development issues for they were considered the agents for change
and the future of the country.
She said WPF was actively involved in
celebrating this day because of two reasons. First, to advocate for
implementation of the youth policy along with laying emphasis on the role of
effective youth participation in the policy development process.
second reason, the official said was to create awareness on pollution factors
that affect the social development process affecting all segments of the
society, particularly youth.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs is still stuck
with finalising the first-ever Youth Policy in order to present it before the
Cabinet Division for approval a third time.
Despite the ministry's
continuous efforts, the policy has for some reason failed to get the importance
it deserves from the decision-makers. No minister has been able to advocate it
in the Parliament adequately. Daily Times
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Students want unions but not politics on campus
Islamabad: A big majority of students approve the PPP-led coalition
government's decision to lift the ban on student unions but not the return of
politics to campuses because of bitter past memories on that count, according to
a nationwide survey.
Conducted by a Gujranwala based national youth
forum, Bargad, and released here on Tuesday on the occasion of the International
Youth Day, the national scientific survey on Student Politics 2008 has been
conducted in all 23 nationwide public universities with 909
Seventy per cent of the respondents welcomed the lifting of
the ban on student union imposed by the then dictator, Gen Ziaul Haq, in 1984.
But, a majority of the students (61.2 pc) are not in favour of student politics.
Almost half of the respondents said students should not take part in national
politics and political movements individually. But, over 42 pc, however, are in
favour of politics on campus. While, the encouraging thing is that about
one-fifth of female students are ready to participate in political movements in
individual capacity too.
Almost 63pc of the students have no knowledge of
earlier structure or working of campus politics and student unions. About 16 pc
think positively about the student politics before the ban, while 13 pc view it
in a negative way.
"We can easily see that the prejudice against student
politics is highly uninformed and has been taken for granted."
The study states that student politics
played a vital role in the 1960s in the democratic struggle against the military
dictatorship of Gen Ayub Khan. But, the one who followed him (Gen Zia) banned
the student unions and purged the campuses of politics. Over the years, student
politics and student unions have been disparaged and accused of engaging in
violence and thus causing the decline of the educational standards in
But, violence on campus was not the norm during the heydays of
student union activism up to the 1970s. Armed and organised violence on campus
first emerged in 1980s, when the country was under the occupation of an
unconstitutional and illegitimate regime that was engaged in gun-running for a
super power as part of an unholy tripartite alliance comprising the US, Pakistan
military and religious organisations. Militarisation of politics was part of the
agenda of the then ruling clique during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.
Campuses and student politics were actually victims of power politics being
played out at the national and international level.
More than half of the
respondents support politics should be confined to campus. But, over 41 pc
report that such restriction is unreal. An overwhelming majority comprising over
72pc respondents opposed the affiliation of student organisations with political
parties, while only about 22pc favoured it. Majority of the respondents did not
want political parties to have student wings, as only 28 pc supported the
Nearly half of students are skeptical about similar political
loyalties of teachers and students in a certain campus and say that it would not
have positive effect on the educational institutions. But, one-thirds thinks
rather the other way over the issue. More than two-third respondents see it
important that the university administration imposes a strict code of conduct on
student organisations to ensure that there is no violence in campus. Nearly
two-third respondents are in favour of banning those student organisations which
promote sectarian, religious, gender, caste or racial discrimination by their
literature and action. A vast majority (over 70pc) stands for open access to
information regarding student union and university funds. The respondents also
favoured representative women quota in the university unions. The survey has
recommended the higher education commission to integrate its recommendations in
the mid term development framework.
Iqbal Haider Butt, who authored the
survey, said in the foreword that if student politics was responsible for
decline in educational standards, the quality of education should have shown
some improvement after student unions were banned. On the contrary, academic
standards continued to deteriorate. Perhaps the responsibility lies in the fact
that education is not a priority for the state and that student unions cannot be
made scapegoat for the state's failure.
Vice chancellors from a number of
universities and politicians and Parliamentarians attended the consultative
meeting on women leadership in campuses during which the survey report was
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