May 3, 2018 (BE2C2) — Renowned Pakistani academic and intellectual Dr Adil Najam says the future of Pakistan – one way or the other – would be determined by those who were between the age of 15 and 29 years today. His views dovetail other studies that characterize Pakistan’s youth bulge as a demographic dividend or a bomb depending on how well the youths’ education, employment and engagement (3 Es) are enabled and facilitated.
As lead author of UNDP’s 2017 report on National Human Development Report released on Wednesday, Dr. Najam says, “The most useful thing that could be done was to create meaningful opportunities in education, employment and engagement that could empower our young to unleash their potential.”
The report reveals that Pakistan currently has the largest population of young people ever recorded in its history– the country is currently one of the youngest nations in the world demographically and the second youngest in the South Asian region after Afghanistan.
Out of the total population in the country, 64 per cent is below the age of 30, and 29 per cent is between the ages of 15-29 years– the numbers of young people will continue to grow until 2035.
What is more, Pakistan only has a limited window of opportunity to leverage on its shifting age structure – the opportunity that may not come again for many generations, according to a seminar held by the London School of Economics (LSE) on Pakistan’s youth bulge in April 2016.
The UNDP report suggests Pakistan needs to create 4.5 million new jobs over the next five years and enroll millions of its out of school children in coming years– only 14 out of 195 countries spend less on education than Pakistan while nine of these have a lower Human Development Index ranking than Pakistan, it said.
The report also presents Pakistan’s human development challenges and opportunities from the perspective of its youth by focusing on how to improve human development outcomes by empowering young people.
According to the report, 9.45 million children at the primary level were estimated to be out of school in 2015 and to achieve this goal by 2030 Pakistan must increase its net ratio to a yearly growth of 3.8 per cent.
It also addresses the root causes of the obstacles they face, and by proposing innovative ways to overcome these challenges.
“If the right strategies and policies are not put in place to meaningfully engage youth in their communities, deliver quality education and secure future livelihoods today, the group forming the biggest workforce in Pakistan’s history is at risk of becoming marginalized, intolerant, vulnerable to joining violent groups, and unable to contribute towards the economy or broader development of the country.”