Educating young people in public policy is necessary for encouraging their involvement in the public policy process. In line with this, IID and Youth for Policy have developed a beginner level MOOC on public policy that has been launched at the e-learning platform Muktopaath, an initiative by the government’s special program Aspire to Innovate (a2i) of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division supported by UNDP.
More than half of the population of Bangladesh comprises the youth. Bangladeshi youth have always been politically sensitive and active, starting from the late 1960s, to the turbulent times of the 1970s, then the political upheavals in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. However, in contemporary times, there has been growing apathy and reluctance in the youth towards politics. This degeneracy can be attributed to many factors which include but are not limited to the rise of corruption in student politics and a general malaise towards engaging in traditional political processes. However, as history has shown, political involvement of the youth is imperative for any changes to occur in public life. IID believes that youth participation in the political process is essential and thus this MOOC has been developed to address the issues of lack of a systematic process and platform for inclusion in policy making and the lack of capacity of youth leaders on sustainable and scalable strategies for policy advocacy.
IID with its youth network Youth for Policy (YfP) in partnership with a2i organized a formal launching event on Wednesday, 27th April 2022. In attendance were, Honorable Member of Parliament Rana Mohammad Sohail, MP, Bangladesh National Parliament, as the Chief Guest; Special Guests, Md. Shaiful Islam, JPD (Joint Secretary) Cabinet Division, a2i Program, ICT Division, Mahjabeen Khaled, Former Member of Parliament and Convenor, Parliamentary Caucus on Social Justice; Syeed Ahamed, IID Founder and CEO; Md. Afzal Hossain Sarwar, Policy Specialist, a2i program; team members of IID and a2i; and YfP volunteers from across Bangladesh.
The event began with introductions of three YfP volunteers, who shared their experience of being Policy Champions and their expectations from the MOOC. Md. Mizanur Rahman talked about his journey with YfP since 2018, Jeba Tasnim Karima shared her experience working in Barishal, with other youth volunteers on climate justice, and Probin Tripura put forward the importance of the course ‘Public Policy 101’, specifically for populations who are generally left out of policy discourse. Followed by a presentation by Mr. Gopal Dey, Additional Director, IID, who illustrated the journey of a young policy advocate and the activities of Youth for Policy that assists in their journey.
Md. Afzal Hossain Sarwar, Policy Analyst, a2i, introduced a2i and Muktopaath, Bangladesh’s largest Bangla e-learning platform that is a successful step towards the vision of Digital Bangladesh. IID Founder and CEO, Mr. Syeed Ahamed, highlighted the importance of youth in public policy, remarking on the conflict between generations that affects decision making in all aspects of life. The public policy process will benefit if this conflict can be resolved for which fostering intergenerational dialogue and including young people at the table is necessary. Mahjabeen Khaled, former Member of Parliament and the Convener of Parliamentary Caucus on Social Justice, conveyed her felicitation to the IID and a2i teams for creating a course on public policy that is accessible for everyone. She emphasized on the unique opportunity that is available to young people which was not the case even ten years ago. Expressing his agreement with Ms. Khaled, Mr. Shaiful Islam, Joint Secretary, ICT Division, Government of Bangladesh, put forward his views on future partnerships between IID and a2i, where the aim would be to make digital education available to everyone in Bangladesh. The MOOC was officially inaugurated by Chief Guest, Rana Mohammad Sohail MP, who appreciated this initiative and emphasized the need to include youth in public policy to foster their out-of-box thinking and because youth are the ones who would be beneficiaries or sufferers of decisions made today. IID’s Joint Director and Head of YfP Falguni Reza moderated the event.
The pandemic has provided the opportunity to advance digital education and look towards forging a path for knowledge to be made easier, and more accessible for all in Bangladesh. Through digital education on subjects like public policy, participation of the public can be made more accessible. Young people are active and willing to be part of the policy process and their participation is imperative. ‘Public Policy 101’ is IID’s step towards helping the youth in being better advocates for their own future.