International Youth Day: Challenges in implementation of youth policy
By Sharad Sharma, KATHMANDU:- The International Youth Day is being commemorated around the world today, including in Nepal, organizing a variety of programs on topics related to youth.
The Day is observed around the theme, ‘Youth Participation for World Campaign: Youth Engagement for Employment Promotion and Environment Conservation’, in Nepal. The event is being marked by organizing virtual programs this year due to the risk of the spread of coronavirus. The programs would be organized from 11 am to 3 pm. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is to inaugurate and address the main program of the event. National Youth Council has been organizing a variety of programs related to youth leadership development for a week on the occasion of the International Youth Day. Many programs are held regularly throughout the world on August 12 every year to mark the Day since 2000 after the United Nations decided in 1999 to observe August 12 each year as the International Youth Day to address the issues related to the youth.
However, in Nepal, the Day started to be observed for the first time since 2004 at the initiatives of organizations working in the youth sector. The youth’s issues have started to be addressed to some extent after the celebration of the IYD. The government has brought many programs keeping the youth in priority, but the youth have not benefited much from these programs as they are not implemented in an effective manner. The government set up a separate ministry- the Ministry of Youth and Sports- in 2065 BS for youth mobilization and development as well as to address the issues pertaining to them. The National Youth Policy, 2072 has outlined comprehensive topics related to youth development and mobilization. The government also formed the Council in 2015, which has been carrying out several activities. Similarly, the Approach Paper to the 15th Plan aims to connect the youth to the nation’s prosperity under the main slogan of ‘Youth’s Enthusiasm is Basis for Prosperity’. The Prime Minister Youth Employment Programme has been implemented and the Youth and Small Investment Self-employment Secretariat has been formed to carry out the programs for youth engagement, development and mobilization. The Youth Vision 2025 and the ten-year-old strategic plan has been brought to make education qualitative, professional and employment-oriented education and ensure youths’ access to all so as to advance the nation towards a fast developing country by 2025.
Unemployment, non-effective policy-level decisions, semi-skilled resources, and lack of quality education still remain as challenging issues. A large score of youths has become jobless due to the COVID-10 crisis. It is necessary for the government to come up with employment programs/packages including such populations. National Youth Council vice-chair Madhav Prasad Dhungel the issues concerning youths were on the process of being addressed and positive changes though to a little extent have started seeing.
Despite many policy-level decisions for the causes of youths, the challenge remains in the implementation aspect, according to him. The government in 2075 BS had introduced an integrated work procedure for concessional loans for youths to encourage them to pursue entrepreneurship and self-employment within the country, but the lack of full implementation of the provision is a barrier to achieve the expected results. Just a total of 28,687 youths could draw such loans in two years. There is a target of disbursing around Rs 64 billion loans under the same program. Council vice-chair Dhungel said they are proceeding towards the implementation of policy-level laws that aim to address the youths’ issues. As he claimed, since the establishment of the Council, such works are done in the sector of youths.
According to him, a mock youth parliament has been formed and exercised in the center and at the state and local level. Such parliament has been constituted at 90 local levels. Besides, Youth Club has been formed at 1,094 wards of 77 local levels. The National Census 2011 puts the population of youths ( 16-40 age group) at 40.3 percent of the total population: 26,494,504 at the time. Youth Action Nepal’s Madan Pokhrel said though the State has announced programs aimed to address the issues of youths, problems lie in the implementation aspect and as a result, millions of youths are toiling hard in foreign soil. Several policy-level endeavors have been made in regard to the sector of youths, but there is no program at the ground level to motivate for self-employment. So programs capable of implemented are the demand of time, he asserted. Country’s goals of ‘Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepalis’ would be fulfilled by addressing issues of youths, he said. The number of foreign employees who went to foreign countries for jobs has dropped to 323,000 annually from 538,000, according to data with the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Development. Nepal has climbed up the 77th place from 145th in the world in the Youth Development Index.
According to available data, 19.2 percent of youths of the country are completely unemployed, 26.1 percent are unemployed despite having diploma degrees, and 50.2 percent are involved in agriculture. Coordinator of the national youths organization Ram Prasad Sapkota said the state’s investment in youths has not become fruitful. He stressed the need for the state to bring policies and programs relating to policy level formulation, political leadership, and employment for youths. President of the Association of Youth Organisations Nepal, Jagadish Aier underscored the need for the implementation of policy level works in the youth sector so as to address their problems. There is a need for the state to bring employment packages for youths who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis. The federal government has allocated Rs 64.49 billion in the youth sector for the current fiscal year, 2020/21, and the state government Rs 12.19 billion. The Council’s information officer Dhruba Raj Poudel pointed out challenges in the implementation of the budget in the youth sector due to failure to enforce the programs through the one-door system. At present, 18 ministries are working in the youth sector, he said.