So you think the last thing young people want to discuss is politics or business strategy? Think again.
As a young woman actively involved and passionate about the role of youth in civil society, I was interested when the World Bank brought together youth from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan to talk about exactly that.
Last month the Civil Society Development Association and the World Bank office in Almaty, Kazakhstan, helped organize a discussion among youth on civil society participation, which was covered by our website, “Interactive Community on New Technologies for Non-Profit Organizations,” on Twitter .
Participants shared a number of success stories:
- Sergei Makarov from the New Media Institute Social Foundation and his colleagues told us that the current law on youth policy in the Kyrgyz Republic allows them to truly participate in social processes.
- In Tajikistan, a “Youth Parliament” Project launched in 1992 was planned to last two years, but was so successful that it is still active.
- In parts of Kazakhstan, young entrepreneurs share information with youth about how to open their own business – an important element for youth development. Members of the Young Entrepreneurs Club say that students’ attitudes towards computers and the Internet have changed – they see that it can be used to build knowledge, not just for games and social networking.
- In Tajikistan’s Khatlon province, students have formed a debate club, where they discuss economics and directions for the country’s development. The club’s organizers say their debaters are fully capable of making proposals to be placed on the government’s agenda.
- In Kazakhstan’s Kyzylorda region, Gulzira Shagirova is implementing a project to train workers in the non-profit sector. So far, they have organized training sessions on fundraising and taught the public how to attract funds for projects.
- Students at KIMEP University in Almaty are teaching English to children in urban orphanages and telling them about the life that awaits them outside.
Let Our Countries Be Friends
After sharing their experiences, participants agreed that it would be ideal to collaborate on these issues. Now, the idea of creating a Central Asian network with databases that allow peers from different countries to keep in touch and share their experiences no longer seems farfetched.
The National Volunteer Network of Kazakhstan, which includes 12 organizations, shared their vision for the development of such a network and offered consulting services on volunteer training. In particular, they offered to focus volunteers’ efforts in five areas – education, health care, social and environmental areas, and politics.
The discussion underlined the fact that the key to involving youth in civic activities is providing them with access to information at all levels – be it young economists, specialists, or children raised in group homes.
“The virus of healthy enthusiasm is spreading fast and cannot be stopped by any law,” said Kaisha Atakhanova, director of the Development through Regional Cooperation program. “That’s why you become volunteers, and later mobilize others with your own infectious initiatives.”