Sri Lankan and Indian counterparts exchange lessons learnt on youth policy

International Alert Sri Lanka recently visited New Delhi in an attempt to further expand Alert’s regional work in the South Asia.

Alert Sri Lanka has been playing an active role in the sphere of youth policy and research in South Asia, also in collaboration with their counterparts in the region, most notably the Maldives and Nepal. To further expand Alert’s network in the South Asia region, a team from Alert Sri Lanka paid a visit to their counterparts in New Delhi to exchange information about the work they are respectively engaged in. Furthermore, this trip explored possibilities of collaborating with like-minded individuals and organisations on youth policy-related work in the future, as the geographical proximity and similarities in the nature of issues concerning the south Asian countries form the base for collaborative work in the region.

The Second National Youth Survey (NYS) of Sri Lanka, the only youth survey of its nature which is being conducted by Social Policy Analysis and Research Center (SPARC) at the University of Colombo, is one of the most exciting projects that Alert is involved in at present. The NYS sparked the interest of academics and organisations that work on youth research in India. It is hoped that the participation of a wider and more diverse group in both the analysis and dissemination of data would contribute to a NYS that is rich in content and broad in scope.

Another important aspect of the trip was a meeting with Bharati Yuwa Shakti Trust (BYST), one of the most successful accredited programmes of the Youth Business International (YBI), a global network that provides young people with the opportunity to start their own businesses. The opportunity to meet with officials of BYST enabled Alert to learn from this organisation that has grown rapidly in the past years by adopting innovating mechanisms and reaching out to a large number of financially disadvantaged youth. Since 1992, they have created 1,500 entrepreneurs, counseled 65,000 young entrepreneurs and created 15,000 jobs. The design and strategies employed in India are not only an inspiration but also a good example for the youth business programme in Sri Lanka (YBSL, Youth Business Sri Lanka) to which Alert provides technical support, especially in its efforts to replicate the successful model in Hambantota. The lessons learnt from the BYST are being shared with YBSL in an attempt to improve programme design and implementation.

Sri Lanka at present does not have a youth policy while India has two. What is common to both countries is the need for a comprehensive and unified youth policy. A few years ago, the youth policy presented by the Sri Lankan government had to be withdrawn due to certain inconsistencies and errors. The NYS II of Sri Lanka promises to be a great source of information as its content is reliable, country-specific and comprehensive in its scope. The role of NYS II as an invaluable input for Sri Lanka’s National Youth Policy and the lessons in it for India are some of the issues that would be of interest to both countries. The Indian interest in NYS is expected to bring in a comparative perspective at the analysis stage.

In addition, Alert’s team also met with the Asian Society of Entrepreneurship Education and Development (ASEED), the Confederation of Indian Industries, The Indian Social Institute, Vishwa Yuwa Kendra, the Indian Committee of Youth Organisations (ICYO), the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Pravah, India International Centre and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. The team also met with academics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Delhi. Alert Sri Lanka hopes to cultivate these links to build partnerships for Alert’s South Asia programme in the future.