THE QUANDARY OF YOUTH IN BALOCHISTAN
By Agha Jahanzaib Baloch
Every nation has its own way to define youth. However, by globally prevalent standard, ‘youth’ comprises the part of a country’s population that falls within the age bracket of 10 and 25 years. However, Ministry of Youth Affairs, defines youth as the part of population which falls within the age bracket of 15 and 29 years. According to survey conducted in 2009, around 63% of Pakistan total population is concentrated below the age of 25 years while a significant portion of 55.53% which makes 33.9% of total population of 163.76 million is concentrated in the age range of 10-24 years. A hasty look at the education system reveals that Baluchistan has unaffordable costs of higher education, non-uniformity in education systems, a huge gap between rural and urban areas; difference in poor and rich; poor quality education, and low female literacy rate.
Moreover, the students have to brave this situation to advance in the contemporary world. When it comes to health, they are not well versed with the knowledge about nutrition and drugs. In economics ambit, our youth is faced with issues like financial constraints, unemployment, poverty and exploitation of young workers. In the realm of politics, they are unaware of their political rights; and act as tools to pursue the vested interests of their political masters. Socially, they experience community conflict, gender discrimination, generation gaps and involvement in a heep of crimes. Rural and urban areas; difference in poor and rich; poor quality education, and low female literacy rate. Apart from these, the most important dilemmas of youth in Baluchistan, at present, include improper use of technology amongst youngsters, lack of career counseling and the ignored uneducated individuals. Our quest for progression and expansion, technological advancement is taken for granted. The hysteria, however, demarcates that the latest development may not necessarily be what is best for society. Technology, in the wrong hands, can become a lethal weapon. This valuable tool is being misused by our youth. The two main forms of technology— cell phones and the Internet — have brought about major changes in their living.
A recent survey revealed that every day an average teenager spends up to 8 hours on electronic devices. Our youth, with every passing moment, are becoming technology-addicted. Young people want instant satisfaction and their desires are readily met by broadband Internet and texting. Nowadays, youngsters communicate through SMS and online chatting. They don’t need to call a friend or a family member. Without verbal communication skills, what will happen to the future generations?
Besides, cell phones and computers, iPods, too, are isolating the younger generation. The iPods send out a clear signal “don’t bother trying to talk to me”. The youth’s obsession with technology makes them oblivious to the social responsibilities.
Our youth lack the basic social skills because of an absence of face-to-face communication. The art of personal communication is on the deathbed and gives way to a new era of interaction. The introduction of cell phones and the Internet has challenged our notions of space and time by putting communications into hyper drive. This technology leaves the youth with inane communication skills and in doing so, contributes to the dubbing down of society. Moreover, hours-long Internet usage eats up the time that could be spent with friends or family. Time wasted in typing inordinate messages is detrimental to personal relationships. It was discovered through a study in Pittsburgh that people who use the Internet most often are “spending less time talking with their families; keeping up with fewer friends”. It is senseless to spend so much time talking to people over the Internet, when one could spend time with family or go to see friends. According to a survey, Internet users spend approximately 244.8 minutes per day with friends and family, while non-Internet users spend on average 381.6 minutes per day.
Modern-day Internet facilities are decreasing interpersonal interaction and essential quality time. The Pittsburgh study also determined that such youngsters are “feeling more lonely and depressed”. Young people maintain that cell phones are a quick and easy way to contact family and friends. Hence, they are increasingly becoming “glued” to their phones. The texting goes on incessantly whether they are at a family dinner or driving a vehicle. Even in some colleges and universities, students keep on texting in the class room and they just couldn’t pay attention to the lecture. Admittedly, cell phones make an easy way to contact someone but youngsters are using them with a maniac zeal.
Another disastrous impact on the students is that they are found using the “text jargon” into their real writing assignments. Abbreviations and slangs created for texting do not follow proper English usage rules. Therefore, texting is limiting their vocabulary and ultimately damaging their written communication skills.
And the story does not end here; the greatest worry of technology comes in form of “social media”. The term stands for the websites which keep people connected. These include Facebook, twitter, Orkit kit, Google plus, LinkedIn, etc. Besides addiction, social isolation and health hazards, these websites have many other very negative implications. For instance, many people build up relations on Facebook but a global survey has shown that 92 per cent of such relations end up in smoke. Love and elopement marriages, as a result of such interactions, are also rarely successful. There are millions of incidents that speak loud of frauds committed through these websites which ultimately result in many odious crimes like robbery, abduction and rape. All of the above-mentioned hazards are attributed to technology but it is quite unfair to blame technology for this imbroglio. In fact, it’s the improper use that makes it hazardous. Because young people form the largest segment of our society, they are most affected by the improper use of technology. Career counseling is all about providing information and guiding the students and youth to find jobs and embark on a successful career. Unfortunately, in Baluchistan Career Counseling has been the most-ignored sector and resultantly, the youth suffered. The most significant problem which the students usually face is that they are seldom free to choose study programs according to their aptitude. Socio-cultural factors have strong influences on their career choices. It is generally observed that parents impose their aspirations on their child who then goes into a field of study which may not be beneficial to him. A student may have aptitude to become a computer prodigy, but due to his parents’ aspirations, he may join an engineering college. It is hard to repudiate that he cannot perform well. He then starts feeling himself a misfit. Parents should think about it and should not impose their plans on their children.
In Baluchistan, most students find themselves baffled when it comes to choosing the field of study after matriculation. They don’t comprehend which field of study is the best for them. Most of the students don’t even know different fields of studies other than engineering and medical. This confusion prevails only due to lack of career counseling facilities. We don’t have career counseling facilities in Balochistan other than a few institutions which hire counselors for their students only. Students should have some basic info on any profession before deciding to adopt it as their future profession. Students should have ample opportunities to consult their teachers, and particularly the persons who are already attached to the profession they are interested in. The greatest dilemma of the Balochi youth is that whenever youth is talked about, only their urban and educated part comes under contemplation. No one ever highlights, what are the issues related to the other half of our youth i.e., the rural-based young people. These people end up in elementary occupations or remain either unemployed or inactive. Among these, females account for the larger share. With a net enrolment of 57 per cent at primary level, the literacy rate of 57 per cent for ages 10 years and above is alarmingly low, thus, posing a formidable challenge to the country. Hardly 13-15 per cent students go on to complete secondary education; resulting in the exit of more than three quarters from educational system. These youngsters enter into the labor market. While the overall labor force showed a growth of 3.74 per cent recently, the growth rate of youth labor force is believed to be relatively higher and increasing, as scores of uneducated, illiterate, and school dropouts join labor force at an early age of 7 to 10 years.
Therefore, the immediate, and probably most burning, issue of the uneducated youth of our province is child labor, as they are forced by the circumstances to earn money at a very tender age. But at the same time, these children are lucky in a sense that they at least have a mean to win their bread. In Baluchistan even youths equipped with high qualifications beg for jobs. What to talk about illiterate and unskilled youngsters? With their empty stomachs, it’s silly to expect them to be good citizens. Consequently, this fraction of youth is left with no other option but to indulge into immoral activities and atrocious crimes. Therefore, keeping in view the dilemmas of youth, this portion of society cannot be ignored any more.
The enviable potential and unrivalled élan of youth, if properly harnessed, can bring a socioeconomic revolution in Balochistan. On the contrary, if their issues, perceptions and ideas are not assessed and subsequently addressed opportunely, it may turn into a ‘nightmare on street to prosperity.’ Therefore, to avoid any debacle, all the problems of youth need to be remedied at the first instance.