Young generation is the wealth and the lifeline of a country and it is the responsibility of any society to look after them in proper manner. The youths must be given proper guidance and education not only for their benefit but also for the betterment of their country. They are always exuberant and creative and hence, they must be properly guided to hone their talents and use them in proper manner.
Individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years are considered youth. They constitute 18% of world population; numbering approximately, 1.3 billion. There are about 5 million youths in Sri Lanka, which accounts for 26% percent of the total population. Around 250,000 students in Sri Lanka leave school education system after sitting for the General Certificate of Exam; Ordinary Level and Advanced Level every year.
Students who could not pursue their higher studies need much attention. Although they were not able to qualify for higher studies, their abilities, or skills cannot be ignored due to lack of few marks for university entrance. In the past, these skillful youth had very limited opportunity to continue higher studies, technical courses or any other career they wished to pursue.
The government has launched a national programme namely 'Youth Capacity Building Programmes' under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development in coordination with the National Youth Council. The youth are able to gain entrepreneurial skills, social and life skills, vocational training, career development guidelines, counselling, culture and aesthetic values through these programmes.
However, it is not an easy task to deliver when we think of 5 million youth as majority of them are living in rural areas in the country. The said programmes are currently being implemented through network of youth centers operating under the National Youth Council, which has an outreach to 12,000 villages of total 14,000 villages across the country. Those who complete their studies in technical colleges or vocational training centers have the opportunity for employment in the government/private sector, or for foreign employment, or to open own business ventures.
Some courses offered by the Technical Colleges or Vocational Training Institutes need changes time to time to suit the demand of the society. Sometimes, it may need further improvement in the curriculum to cater to specific market requirements. At times, students are unaware of most demanding courses or courses that are suitable for them and thus, they need special guidance in that respect. All these nuances are taken into account when those curriculum are developed to suit rapidly changing society.
There are numerous projects and programmes to help and empower the youth in Sri Lanka. If they are given career guidnce to identify their abilities and provide more opportunities to develop their skills, it would be the best support for the younger generation.
Technical and vocational training system, which is now operating in Sri Lanka, has gained popularity among the younger generation as a reliable education system that extends helping hand to those who were not successful in their higher studies.
At present, arrangements are being made by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Skills Development of Sri Lanka to host the World Youth Conference in Sri Lanka – 2014, which I feel, an excellent opportunity for youth around the world to meet and discuss about their future.