Since recent times, South Asian region has been experiencing a great demographic advantage which if used appropriately can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and catapult economies forward. India, for example, has an unrivalled youth demographic: 65% of its population is 35 years or under, and half the country’s population of 1.25 billion people is under 25 years of age. This demographic advantage may result in substantial economic gains if realized through a “demographic dividend”, which can occur when a country’s working age population is larger than the population that is dependent. In order to maximize the dividend, our country must ensure its young working-age population is equipped to seize opportunities for jobs and other income-earning possibilities.
On the other hand, after witnessing prolonged internal conflicts, Nepal and Sri Lanka are returning back to normalcy and are focusing on reconstruction and economic development of their respective countries. Undoubtedly, Youth, who are the backbone of any country, play a crucial role in the nation development process. At the same, it would be of greater value if the youth are skilled which will result in strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth of the country.
Way back in 2005, Aide et Action South Asia started ‘Initiative for Livelihood Education and Development’ program in India with an aim to reach out to the marginalized youths of linguistic minorities, population groups living in rural and isolated or difficult to access areas, etc., who do not have access to higher education and many of them were also school drop-outs. The program offers strong soft skills to build their confidence, literacy and access to vocational training that has demand in job market and supports them in social mainstreaming too.
In Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, the Livelihood Education programme focuses on re-instilling confidence in youth excluded from the educational system and enables them to have access to certified vocational education. The courses offered include modules on soft skills, gender equality, conflict management and peace building components, which would transform the young people into leaders who can build bridges across communities, work together and help to manage conflict and promote peace.
Source: AEA South Asia Activity Report 2015