By Imran Newaz Khurshid, Bangladesh (Class 19. Host: Compass Partners)
Many of us may find that we try to do things alone in our personal and professional lives. Generally, it has been seen that people become competition-oriented and learn to do things on their own when they have grown up in cultures that encourage competition rather than cooperation. I naturally feel passionate about helping the youth of Bangladesh develop their soft skills. Although it started as a passion to mitigate the skills gap between what the traditional classroom education equips the people with and that what is expected by the recruiters, things have started to take shape when I have discovered that so many issues can be solved by empowering the young people with soft skills! Just so many things are out there – I do not know where to start! Think about the classroom setup in many countries, where the learners are sitting in rows and ‘following’ the teacher rather than co-creating in the classroom. Followership, rather than leadership, is implanted in the minds of the youth by this practice. How can we expect these learners to be leaders when they grow up? There are issues going on in the society and personal and professional aspects of the world. Will these children be able to know what it takes to really find their voice in such crises, how to motivate others, and give the proper amount of respect? Now think about the other end of the spectrum. If a culture of co-creation and team work could be nurtured in the classroom, they would know all the different skills such as interpersonal communication skills, empathy and emotional intelligence. I believe that these children would make much better citizens as well as professionals in later life.
Let’s look at how children are raised in families. So many times what he sees around is reflected in his later life through his own practices and expectations. If the child sees his father dominating the mother, he might be well-programmed to do the same besides not understanding what democracy in his country is, quite unknowingly – an interesting correlation. Or think about how we are not engaging the young people to learn Social Media skills. They are all so good at it, but do they know what to do in the right moment at crises? If there is a flood, how often do we see the energetic youths posting pictures and connecting with others to help develop the condition or use the right hashtag for humanitarian reliefs to reach at the place of crises? Honestly, I see a lot of developments these days. But I would like to see more for sustainable development.
So if we analyze carefully, the soft skills not only help to remove unemployment and underemployment, but also to help in the process of other Sustainable Development Goals. One of the very recent successes that I have found was through a strategic partnership.
It took place between the platform that I initiated called Mind Mechanics and Leaping Boundaries. Mind Mechanics focused on Employability Skills development of the mainstream youths and Leaping Boundaries worked to develop the Soft Skills and English competencies of the students of Madrasas (religious institutions) along with providing them with Psychosocial support. As Leaping Boundaries was devoted to helping such marginalized youths, this partnership highly added value in such endeavor. I provided training to the trainers of Leaping Boundaries on how to train and on various soft skills, which they applied to empower their target groups. It was so rewarding to see how the impact was multiplied through this sort of partnership. It was just the beginning. For a long time we worked together and changed lives. I believe that if it has worked for a small scale, it would also work for larger ones.
Let us look at some ideas. In terms of the job sector, it is of no doubt that the education providers try their best to teach the young minds. My point is that if the recruiters and the education providers could work together they could effectively reduce unemployment and underemployment. It might be very easy to say but when it comes to time and resource constraints, there are always many reasons not to go forward with it. How can the policy makers bring about a change to develop a strategic partnership between the education providers and the recruiters? This would effectively serve to ensure that goals 1, 4, 8 and 10 are met (which are ‘No Poverty’, ‘Quality Education’, ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ and ‘Reduced Inequalities’ respectively). Likewise, we can think working towards other SDGs by developing a strategic partnership between the law enforcement agencies in a country with the education curriculum or that between health sector and schools, so that the students embody the values of being a good and ethical attitude, and to be very caring towards women and senior citizens. Moreover, development sectors like the NGOs and INGOs can partner with franchises to feed the hungry and the homeless.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance that strategic partnerships are focused on to really collaborate and attain the Sustainable Development Goals.
Imran has about five years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector, and earned the “Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainers” from Cambridge University, United Kingdom and a “Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communication Engineering” from BRAC University, Bangladesh. While working for different philanthropic organizations including BRAC (the world’s largest nonprofit), he imparted education to underprivileged children, trained teachers, and facilitated international exchange and volunteer development programs. These activities addressed issues like the social and leadership development of young people, many of which were supported by the U.S. Embassy of Dhaka. Simultaneously, he was teaching the “Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainers” to educators of various schools for about two years. Based on his understanding of young people’s needs of leadership development, Imran started his own initiative, “Mind Mechanics,” at the beginning of 2014. There, he designs and facilitates programs for various target groups representing different socio-economic, political and faith-based communities such as human rights activists, young political leaders, and students of ‘Madrasas’ (religious educational institutions). He does these to equip them with soft skills that promote employability, tolerance, co-existence, transformational leadership and democracy. Through these experiences Imran has developed strong leadership qualities, design thinking and facilitation skills for empowering youths of different age groups, and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. He has a strong passion for holistic youth empowerment through youth leadership development.