Experts and the people working for the welfare of the youth have urged a youth-focused and effective strategy for a sustainable pandemic recovery.
Stating that the youth had received a comparatively harsher hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, they recommended that the Eighth Five-Year Plan addresses the challenges faced by the young people in the pandemic.
They were speaking at a webinar on "Reflection of Youth's Perspective in the 8th Five-Year Plan" jointly hosted by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) and Action Aid Bangladesh on Saturday.
In a keynote presentation at the programme, Eshrat Sharmin, a senior research associate at Sanem, said Bangladesh has been passing through a demographic dividend opportunity, which will diminish within the next two decades.
"Investing in human capital development will be crucial to utilise the demographic dividend, and a failure to comprehend and incorporate specific sets of pandemic related challenges will compromise broader development goals," she added.
Speakers said, in the Eighth Five-Year Plan, the youth must get importance particularly in the areas of education, health, human development, and livelihood. Youth participation must be considered and the youth should raise their voice strongly to ensure accountability in the implementation of the plan.
They also said 22 ministries are involved in the development of the youth but there is a lack of coordination among them.
Several issues and policies should be addressed in the Eighth Five-Year Plan for overall employment generation to overcome the pandemic impact on the employment of the youth, the speakers said.
Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of Sanem, and professor of Economics at the University of Dhaka chaired the programme.
"The government provides all kinds of support and several plans have also been taken for the youth," Nasima Begum, member (Secretary) at the General Economics Division, said at the programme.
"When the Eighth Five-Year Plan was prepared, the issue of pandemic impact was not in the mind. As a result, the sufferings of the youth during the pandemic are not reflected in the plan. When the plan will be reviewed in future, we should consider the issue."
"The Eighth Five-Year Plan is an important document for youth development. So we need to work on whether the government is implementing the commitments which have been made in this plan," said Selim Raihan.
"The voice of youths needs to be louder. Young people need to build social movements. Their voices need to be louder to ensure accountability."
He said Bangladesh is now passing through the first stage of demographic dividend but it will not be achieved automatically.
"We must achieve it and for that, we need to keep an eye on the implementation of the roadmap for the next 10 years," he added.
Samanjar Chowdhury, Operations Lead at Brac Youth Platform, called for making a targeted database for the youth to make the plan properly.
She said, "Investment for the youth needed from all sides. We have to see where the gap is in the plan and need a policy that can be achieved."
Morium Nesa, manager of Women Rights & Gender Equity at Action Aid, said, "Young people are a force if they can be utilised and in failure, they will become a burden. The youth will help the state move forward but the state will have to make its effort to mobilise the youth."
Esha Farooqe, assistant director of Operations at Jaago Foundation, said, "There are gaps between the education and the labour market. Due to this, even after getting higher education, a young person suffers from indecision over choosing a sector for their employment. Emphasis should be put on technical education."
Nazmul Ahsan, manager of Young People at ActionAid Bangladesh, and Falguni Reza, joint director of Research at the Institute of Informatics and Development, among others, spoke at the webinar.