Engaging with the Younger Generation

Every individual aspires to be in a society with high living standards and equal opportunity.

It is the duty of the state and its’ stakeholders to create such an environment in a country to reap the maximum out of its’ citizens. Migration of well-educated, skilled citizens of developing countries at a large scale to highly rich and better developed countries is referred to as Brain-drain from that nation. Sri Lanka is a country that has been suffering brain-drain for decades now. Recently, the causes for this epidemic are political instability, lack of academic freedom and lack of career choices, unproductive educational funds, and inflation.

There are no recorded numbers of this migration from the country – however the sheer size can be estimated from the immigration counts in developed countries.

Though not clear, the fact that reports state 20,000-40,000 people were returning to the country from abroad during the pandemic allows one to hazard an approximation of the clear and crippling brain-drain the country faces. The young and bright of the nation feel alienated by the government, and the lack of effort put into maintaining a livable country with equal, fair, and accessible opportunity. Overall, brain-drain is a major hindrance to the nation as it prevents Sri Lanka from developing both economically and socially.

Firstly, one of the major reasons the youth of today feel alienated is due to the instability of the government. Whenever election year comes around, we must buckle our seatbelts and prepare for the rocky road ahead. Casting a voting ballot has come to be as precarious as gambling in a casino. Every year when the government changes – so do the national policies. Building sustainable and standardized national policies for all sectors will allow room for stability in the government as well as cement the new generation’s trust.

The end of such tumult and unsurety in government sectoral policies will both engage the youth to participate in building a country with trust as well as attract them to remain home.

Similarly, the rife corruption existing in Sri Lanka is a reason for its political, social, and economic instability. After the present government took office, addressing corruption was one of its central objectives.

The president himself has stated that the people must participate in eradicating corruption by playing, “a conscious role in preventative mechanisms.” He also stated that by doing this Sri Lanka can be made a worthy home for “generations to come,” thus increasing engagement with the younger generation and attracting their interest.

However, weak whistleblower protections in this country make this current method of prevention unsustainable and ineffective. People are simply unwilling to stand up to corruption because of this. Yet, Transparency International shows 79% of Sri Lankans believe corruption is a major issue in the government. Corruption affects the public sector the most and thus, the poorer population of the country. This results in further alienation of the younger generation who have lesser means and opportunities.

Furthermore, being a country that is heavily dependent on foreign investments for infrastructure development, production, and exports – corruption negatively impacts foreign investment and growth and jobs. Once again, this fuels brain-drain as there is less potential in the country for the youth, as well as deepening distrust in the government.

On the other hand, the country’s current educational system also can help play a part in engaging the new generation. Though the state does provide free education, higher education is extremely competitive, and few get accepted and graduate. One issue is that admissions are district-based on a Z score of students’ GCE Advanced Level examination rather than an island-wide ranking system.

This allows for a fair district-based representation. However, it creates an issue where students who are more qualified living in more competitive, urban areas will not get accepted while less qualified students from less competitive, rural areas will. Yet again, this is a direct cause of brain-drain as these students then resort to leaving the country to study abroad. Usually, students opt to stay in the country they migrated to for studies rather than return.

These students, despite being qualified, feel isolated by the system. Instead of using a district-based ranking system to alleviate the disparity between rural and urban areas – would it not be much more effective to simply create a standardized and equal education system that maintained the same quality despite being in a rural or urban area? Other than this, there is also the problem of unemployment. As of 2017 there were 43,000 unemployed graduates in Sri Lanka. Having a college degree no longer ensures the youth a stable job. The public sector is saturated due to the low economic growth and corruption experienced in the country.

Ultimately, the younger generation has lost hope and trust in the government and its capabilities to ensure them a fruitful future.

However, using social justice as a tool can help bridge this gap. Never has there been a generation more socially aware or ‘woke’ about worldwide issues due to the prominence of social media.

This generation has their eyes wide open to the faults of this world and this country and they want to tackle these issues. Not only can the government prevent alienating youth but can also engage with them by using social justice and bringing it about to make this country a better place for the generations to come.

This generation needs to feel like the government cares about them and their needs, in order for this country to move forward and create a brighter future.

Session XIV of SLMUN will be held on the 6th and 7th of November 2021 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo, Sri Lanka. Registrations for delegates, admins and IPC delegates are now open until the 30th of September 2021.

 

For further details, head on over to our website on www.slmun.org , or please contact us via:

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– Umaama Hussain (News and Media Team- SLMUN 2021)