Youth Activism in Democracy and Education

Round table discussion

The Round table discussion was organized with the students of Gilgit Baltistan on 27th May 2014 at Heinrich Boll Stiftung liaison Office in Lahore. This event was arranged by the Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF) in collaboration with the Interactive Resource Centre (IRC) and Mountain Youth Resources & Social Welfare Organization (MYRO). A large number of youth from Gilgit Baltistan with different educational and political backgrounds participated in the discussion.  Participants also included Mr. Didar Ali, Chairman Gilgit Baltistan Youth Council (GBYC) along with the executive committee of GBYC.

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 The theme of the program was “Youth Activism in Democracy and Education.” The round table included a lecture by Saima Jasam. She welcomed the participants and began the session with an introduction of HBS work in Pakistan since 1993 and its engagement  with the issue of democracy and youth this was also reflected through a four minute documentary film “Not a One Way Street”  which was screened for the participants.

Image removed.Miss Saima was of the view that students have a narrow understanding of democracy. There is a dire need for students to come forward and talk about the issues. After all, students are the voices. They shoulder responsibilities and duties, and hence need to have more in-depth knowledge about the political situation and youth should not be used as a escape goat by the political parties for their own vested interests but youth should make a conscious choice of choosing what they think is right and wrong and should try to build consensus at least at the national level to move forward for building peace. There were very many pertinent questions

raised by the group. Students put forward questions and shared their views on how they can bring about change.

 Nisar Ahmed (Media Manager of IRC screened the two documentaries made by IRC; the first one was called “Invisible Democrats”. This film touched upon very important and sensitive issues like ID cards of the transgender. The discussion went around that the stereotype thinking that surrounds the transgender community needs to be removed.  In the discussion it came up so strongly that we are programmed to give a smirk at the very sight of a transgender. It is quite unfortunate that these people are treated badly and are always looked down.

The other documentary screened was “Pakistani Youth”. This was a film about the various political youth wings and how the young leaders view the manifesto of their parties.

 Third session was about the scholarship possibilities of youth, Clarrisa Leopold; a student of Munich University Germany was also present at the event. Clara gave a presentation on DAAD scholarship. She told in detail what are the requirements for applying for a scholarship in Germany. Students put forward their queries and learnt a lot of useful information. The session was brought to an end with refreshments.

HBS looks forward to many such events in the future that will bring students on a platform to air their views and initiate dialogue.