Bangladesh National Youth Conference 2008

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Youth Ending Hunger (YEH), the youth wing of The Hunger Project (THP), held a conference for over 700 participants at the Gonoshastha Kendro Auditorium in Savar, Dhaka on December 19-20, 2008. The participants were both female and male, representing 32 districts and 120 units from around the country.

YEH worked with sponsors such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and  independent organizations such as Bangladesh Open Source Network (BOSN), Bangladesh Math Olympiad Committee and Jagoree.

They discussed important issues ranging from open source information, tobacco-free marketing and free and fair elections. Four television stations and several newspapers covered the event, focusing on how YEH and THP are working to better their communities through workshops, training programs and initiatives.

The two day event was divided into various sessions, ranging from debates to planning sessions, all highlighting the importance of student's voluntary efforts and the need to work persistently to achieve a hunger-free, self-reliant Bangladesh. The first day opened with a debate on  education as the main factor in creating political consciousness and responsible citizenship. While the topic itself is important, the underlying goal was to stress the importance of open discourse on issues in grassroots communities.

The second day began with an interactive session on a national literacy campaign. Several volunteers shared their success stories and were recognized for their commitment to the campaign. Later, participants discussed ways to strengthen the program and further minimize illiteracy in Bangladesh. The session also discussed THP's quality of education movement, including an emphasis on math and information technology. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of professionals and volunteers in the field of education. Following this the panel shared their ideas on improving the quality of education in Bangladesh. The forum ended with a presentation on the importance of banning tobacco advertising and encouraging youth to abstain from smoking tobacco.

The Youth Conference ended with a detailed discussion and creation of a new Annual Plan for 2009 and 2010. The participants clearly stated their visions and the areas they commit to work towards in 2009. They are:

  • Eradicating illiteracy;
  • Ensuring quality education in schools;
  • Developing students skills in IT, English and Math; and
  • Increasing organizational focus in:
    1. Student volunteer recruitment
    2. Social activities such as issue-based campaigning (dowry-free marriage, tobacco-free youth, early marriage, etc.)
    3. Forging further partnerships with government bodies.

One of the main achievements of this year's National Youth Conference was the involvement of new organizations. These affiliations led to some new goals:

  • Involving youth leaders in achieving quality education in 80 upazillas (sub-districts);
  • A new liaison with the World Health Organization to work collaboratively on the Anti-Tobacco campaign;
  • Conducting five workshops for the Math Olympiad program;
  • Creating a workshop with Bangladesh Open Source Network (BDOSN) to build students' IT skills;
  • Working to increase coverage of debates and competitions nationally; and
  • Creating a liaison with Jagoree and YEH to help build students' political awareness.