It has been 69 years since this country, Pakistan, came into being by demanding and fighting for the right to an independent existence. Of 183 countries, Pakistan has recorded the largest decline in its overall youth development score by 18 per cent between 2010 and 2015, according to the Global Youth Development Index and Report 2016.
Ranking a dismal 154 among 183 countries, Pakistan performed even worse than war-torn and terrorism-plagued Syria which stood at 137. Compared to its neighbors, Pakistan lagged behind India (133) and Bangladesh (147) but performed better than Afghanistan at 167.
The decline has been brought about by a dramatic fall in the country’s scores in the domains of civic participation (58 per cent) and political participation (69 per cent). In particular, Pakistan’s lack of a youth policy – which is the primary indicator for the domain of political participation – has driven the fall in its score.
The Commonwealth Youth Development Index uncovered a fascinating picture of the prospects of youth in the said countries. It measured opportunities for the youth in terms of civic participation, education, employment, health and well-being and political participation.
Pakistan’s low score was explained by its performance in the areas of education, financial inclusion and political participation. The country scored below the South Asian average in all domains of the YDI except health and well-being.
This report is based upon different factors like educational attainment, employment opportunities, political empowerment and health and survival rate. So when I say anything about the difficulties of belonging to a youth development here, it is the statistics speaking for themselves. The literacy rate indicates 43% for females against 67% for males. Except Afghanistan, all other South Asian countries have better scores than Pakistan in the domain of education. The report pointed out that only 42 per cent of children in Pakistan are enrolled in secondary schools. Similarly, the youth literacy rate in Pakistan is approximately 76 per cent and only six per cent of youth in Pakistan have an account at a formal financial institution. The South Asia and global figures for the same indicator are 31 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
Fighting for education is only one part of the struggle; the right to put that education into use by having financial independence is a much harder battle. Many parents, even the ones falling into the middle-class of the hierarchy, believe that education is only necessary for the growth of an individual. That is by all means true; however, putting it into use for having a better position financially is also a major chunk of it.
We are the representatives of our country and it is really shameful to see these statistics. When more than 70% of the population in the country is far from development, the country will never be able to progress in a positive direction if they not secure pathways for the betterment of youth. It also my suggestion to form a task force to develop intersectional thinking to launch scaled-up initiatives and initiate discourse between the public and private sectors. Youth has to fight for their right to exist to change the future of this country, is this what we fought for?