Young people for sustainable change

Dr Narinder Bhatial
“One way to make sure change lasts is to work with young people, because they will take what they learn into the future. Each of us, no matter what age we are, can adopt the attitude of a young person to always be willing to learn and try new things”
“Change is the only thing that is constant” is a famous and undeniably a very true oxymoron. Sustainability can be defined as an ability or capacity of something to be maintained or to sustain itself. It’s about taking what we need to live now, without jeopardizing the potential for people in the future to meet their needs. Young people can indeed serve as the architects of sustainable change. Empowering young people as promoters in the field of water, sanitation and hygiene is a way of assuring that any project or programme has a greater effect and a long lasting impact on the communities. In India there exists a situation of mutual mistrust between the youth and the society which leads to incoherence in actions and demands, thereby halting nation’s growth.. When trying to find solutions to water contamination and ways to improve access to water and sanitation in any given community, it is essential that youth is involved. With mutual cooperation of  Government and Non-Government agencies along with the youth of the nations, solutions that are sustainable and acceptable to both the future and present “adults” can be found.  All of us can then work together in an organized fashion to identify appropriate solutions to the problems, and then take ownership of the measures to apply those solutions.
The youth needs opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills, beliefs and garnish their attitude. For this purpose revisions on curriculum and innovative methods of teaching are encouraged. Learning By Doing is a miraculous way to learn. It is easier for the mind to remember experiences in comparison to words, and hence teaching by introducing students to newer concepts using interactive methods of learning and then challenging them to come up with innovative solutions can be a very productive way of learning. Learning techniques involving peer-peer interactions can help in development of social skills which are a must for survival in today’s socially demanding world . Class -room activities that involve development of oratory skills, leadership skills, co-operative skills and listening skills are equally important to studying core courses. Lack of variety in courses offered in schools is another thing our education system lacks.
Environmental programmes should try to involve young people as promoters basically because they have a lot of extra time and energy – and are tremendously creative. In this media age, young people have access to tremendous amounts of information that can sometimes be overwhelming (using internet based social networks, for example), but they really do not know what to do with all of it. Young people are prepared to take risks in confronting conventional structures. They are a sector of society that will be able to assure sustainability. Precisely because they are inheriting a world, they know that the world is complicated and it will affect them. Indeed, young people are often more sensitive and intuitive than many adults, which can give them and almost instinctive sense of what will work or not and where a program should be directed.
It is estimated that around 37.7 million Indians are affected by waterborne diseases annually, 1.5 million children are estimated to die of diarrhoea alone and 73 million working days are lost due to waterborne diseases each year. Whereas, the provision of clean drinking water has been given priority in the constitution, with article 47 conferring the duty of providing clean drinking water and improving public health standards to the State. India’s 65% of the total population is youth so we just require utilizing this force and channelizing the bubbling energy.
Keeping in view the above facts Communication and Capacity Development Unit Jammu and Kashmir, which has a mandate of awareness and capacity building of general masses in regard with water, sanitation and Hygiene shall empower the youth as promoters.  In this connection a youth conference of over four hundred urban and rural students coming from different schools from various districts shall be organized at Jammu – JAL SANRAKSHAN JAGRUKTA ABHIYAN. The idea is to extract fresh perspectives and find innovative solutions, in regard with the challenges faced by the districts as well as the state and produce the promoters of water sanitation and hygiene as ” Swatchta Dooths”
Getting rural and urban students together is a unique idea altogether.. Learning to adjust and interact in this case becomes a new learning experience in itself. Students will gain a different perspective when they will come across different aspirations. Water is equally needed by everyone and its exploitation should be a matter of concern for all. The water related issues they face might be different but the root cause remains the same. Moreover, one’s actions affects others too, which is enough of a reason to realize the importance of the issue.
“If the nation is a bow the youth is its arrow, with the right kind of motivational pull and direction the aspired targets can be reached.”

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