The Round Table sessions of the World Conference on Youth (WCY) 2014 began at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Convention Hall (BMICH) yesterday (7).
Among the afternoon roundtable sessions at the WCY 2014 yesterday was a discussion on the theme “Realizing Equal Access to Quality Education.”
At the discussion, challenges and issues in achieving education for all were discussed. One aspect that was stressed is the fact that although the amount of education available to all has increased, there has been a deterioration in its overall quality.
One of the issues brought up for discussion was how marginalized women do not attend education facilities even if they are freely available. It was emphasized that people with disabilities encounter difficulties in accessing education than any other social group and that 95 percent of them are out of school. In addition, the infrastructure of many educational establishments is not accommodative of those with disabilities.
The lack of inclusiveness of youth in policy-making was another area that delegates discussed at the session in addition to the fact that access to education continues to be one of the main dilemmas facing the world’s population. One representative mentioned that worldwide education is underfunded by US$ 26 billion.
One of the speakers outlined that as long as developed countries continued to hold the world’s best educators, the education gap between developed and developing countries will never be bridged. It was also stated that the future was in the hands of the youth.
Ms. Antonia Wulff from Education International spoke about how everyone can contribute to quality education and that there is no common consensus of what quality education means all around the world. In addition, she spoke about the need for funding education.
“Advocating quality education lies in the hands of students and teachers, and the responsibility of implementing it lies in the hands of the government," Ms. Wulff said.
Full Employment and Entrepreneurship
At the roundtable discussion on “Full Employment and Entrepreneurship” in BMICH yesterday Mr. Dilith Jayaweera, a leading entrepreneur in Sri Lanka, said when he engages in business, he always uses “worst case analysis” theory for testing purposes, adding that the key to success is innovation.
Youth Employment Specialist from the International Labor Organization (ILO) Mr. Matthieu Cognac said the urgency of promoting full youth employment has never been felt so badly as right now. He also said that entrepreneurship is a result of not having options, when it should be a choice.
Vice President of the All China Youth Federation Mr. Zhou Changuki stated that the sharing of experiences and resources is the short cut to promoting youth employment and entrepreneurships.
The speakers answered a few questions from the audience before they broke the main session to have group interactions amongst the participants to share thoughts to be included in the final outcomes draft.
Ensuring Inclusive Recreation, Sports and Culture
The roundtable discussion on “Ensuring Inclusive Recreation, Sports and Culture” was also held at the BMICH yesterday.
According to the European Non-Governmental Sports Organization (ENGSO) Representative Ms. Nevena Vukašinović, sports should be enjoyed as a hobby and is not meant to be taken seriously. She placed the current world of sports into three groups: Sports played by poor countries with poor facilities which result in injuries, sports played by rich countries where sportsmen enjoy the luxuries of proper equipment and training, and thirdly, sports in the middle- income countries where it is possible for their sportsmen and women to practice at international locations.
The Minister of Youth and Sports in Yemen Mr. Muammar al-Eryani elaborated on the importance of believing in everybody’s right to engage in sports while Sri Lanka’s Member of Parliament and prominent ex-cricketer Mr. Arjuna Ranatunga emphasized that the beauty of sports is that it brings together people who would otherwise be separated. Mr. Ranatunga further added that youth could incorporate their time for sports activities, which will keep them away from unhealthy practices like smoking or consuming alcohol. Sports will discipline a person’s character, building values, thereby, helping the society at large, Mr. Ranatunga said.
Inclusive Youth Participation at All Levels
A discussion on youth participation in Economic, Civic and Political sectors commenced at the BMICH yesterday with the participation of the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Maya Todorova, Former Youth Delegate of Indonesia Mr. Angga Dwi Martha and the United Nations Development Program Representative Ms. Tasneem Mirza.
Commencing the discussion, the Bulgarian Deputy Minister said that youth participation at all levels is a crucial factor in decision-making around the world. The three key areas the Minister highlighted were the possibility of participation, democracy and the representation of youth. Minister Todorova concluded her speech by saying, “Youth is already a fact, it is already available online. We can see the development. We need to reach out for participation.”
Ms. Mirza highlighted that 85 percent of the youth are from developing countries and face a lot of challenges. Her speech included three stages of inclusiveness:
Inclusiveness in Economic Participation: When considering the inclusiveness in economic
participation, she highlighted youth unemployment by explaining that youth unemployment in many countries is two to three times higher than the national averages. Furthermore, youth underemployment is also a problem where education and the skills of the youth do not match the job market.
Inclusiveness in Civic and Political Participation: Ms. Mirza stated that the youth have a significant role in civic and political participation. She provided examples to support her point by stating that youth can be proactively involved in formal processes such as elections, constitution-making and parliamentary processes.
Outreach for Marginalized Youth: The third point Mr. Mirza raised is the fact that several groups of youth need special support due to their circumstances and, therefore, outreach efforts should include
youth from ethnic and minority groups, refugees, the HIV-affected population and people with disabilities.
The former youth delegate of Indonesia Mr. Angga Dwi Martha said that the “fulfillment of basic human rights is important, including young people’s active leadership and meaningful participation.”
He explained his view by stating that there are three layers of youth. They are the youth that are unaware, the youth that are aware but have no capacity and no channels to voice their concerns, and the youth that are aware about the issues as well as having ways to voice those concerns. He said, yet in order to participate, youth have to be considered as a partner in development and not as a subject.