Protecting youth from drug addiction and extremism
At a recent event of the scouts, President Abdul Hamid correctly pointed out that the dynamic youth of the country should be prevented from getting derailed. A concern about the youth is justified since in recent times, the country has seen many young people sucked into a vortex of militant thoughts, drug addiction and getting indulged to terrorism.
Dealing with young people is a complex task since exerting too much pressure on them can be counterproductive. Often the traditional approach in dealing with recalcitrant or rebellious young people has resulted in catastrophe. Most of the radical youths who were arrested by the police revealed that they were drawn into radical ideology since society was not tolerant to listen to their concerns.
The blinkered and quite often an authoritarian approach to deal with the young, creates deep sense of resentment among youngsters who feel that society is treating them like outcasts. Therefore, understanding the young mind of today is the first pre-requisite in ensuring a constructive youth force. To do this, many of the outdated notions about education, livelihood, man-woman relation, pre-marital sex and goals of life have to be rethought and if needs be rejected.
The government has a role to promote liberal ideas in schools, colleges through academic programmes but the real change has to come from within the family. In Bangladesh, a person's character is formed by the family atmosphere in which s/he grows up. So, the philosophy of parents is of paramount importance.
The government's stern action to uproot radicalism is laudable though the main task is to ensure such extreme ideas never take form. To save the young from being indoctrinated by bigotry, dogmatism plus blinkered outlook, the schools have to propagate moderate values and refrain from trying to draw a stark line between good and bad. Accepting that youth may feel tempted to go awry, society has to tackle such transgressions with a sense of understanding and consideration. Unfortunately, in Bangladesh, the definition of what is right and what is not seems to be set in stone with those who make mistakes banished into notoriety forever.
In a new age, there will be countless complex issues facing the young and trying to settle them through outdated narratives will only alienate young minds.
Last but never the least - Bangladesh's young workforce is one of its greatest strengths. However, a large number of young people in Bangladesh cannot take part in the mainstream economic activities, as they do not find jobs. The high growth of the economy has not been able to generate enough jobs for the youth, a major section of who are educated. Thus, Bangladesh is being deprived of the contribution of this large energetic workforce who could have provided demographic dividend to the economy.