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Socio-Perspective Panel: Glocal International Teen Conference 2020

Introduction

Glocal International Teen Conference (GITC) is an opportunity for teenagers to address the issues and overcome the challenges that they have faced in their daily lives. It is a platform for all teenagers from age 13 to 19 to learn, empower and bring social impact through a participatory and interactive environment with their peers from all over the globe. The three key issues of GITC are Entrepreneurship, Empowerment, and Socio-Perspective. It is a lifetime experience to connect with the influencing teenager and act for a positive change. Glocal International Teen Conference was organized virtually on Dec 10 & 11, 2020.

Speaker and Moderator of Socio-Perspective Panel

The awareness factor of every individual is what makes them responsible and committed to the development of society. In this context, the works of teenagers are not only setting the example but also, sending out messages that teenagers are the change-agent. Through this, we aspire to bring forward the examples of the ripple effect that teenagers have brought in making this world a better place to live in.

A Socio- perspective panel session was moderated by Mr. Ujjwal K.Chowdhury, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Adamas University who talked with 4 different individuals with different perspectives. The panelists were:

  1. Mr. Ahmad Nissar, Young Speaker from Afghanistan; 
  2. Ms. Dinh Hoang Minh Ngoc, a passionate Social Activist from Vietnam; 
  3. Ms. Menuri Sachintha Kodikara, an activist from Sri-Lanka & recipient of the first-ever Glocal Teen Hero Sri Lanka awardee 
  4. Mr. Samarth Jha, Social Entrepreneur from Nepal

The Socio-Perspective panel discussion highlighted the teenager’s contribution towards society and flashed the inspiring journey of speakers.

Here’s the gist of the discussion;

As we all know; technology has created a major bond and digital connectivity where e-connect has come down on the other side, because you are in an academic environment, along with your social role. The academics are changing so much that your social role is becoming more important. Universities are giving more recognition to those youngsters who have a social outreach role. Universities are breaking the silos between art, science, & commerce. You can be studying engineering with sociology as your subject or music as your second subject. This wasn’t possible in our times. This silo is breaking down, you can bring your passion and professional and your academies together. The whole character of education is changing, and the right side of the brains are coming closer. The left is about the reason for rationality, sciences, and the right is about aesthetics and creativity. The rational ones can be creative and the creative ones can be logical. So, these things coming up is becoming a major shift, and people are understanding that your social engagement and your academic achievement can go hand in hand.  

Moderator: Besides academics, What is the social impact you are creating and what are the other things you are doing to create a society of your desire and dreams? 

Ahmad: Thank you so much for your question and also for your kind remarks. So I will share my story of how I started doing activism in my country and community. The area of expertise that I want to work in is education because I believe that when people have a chance to learn they will deliver equitable, healthy and prosperous societies. So as we all know; Education is a key factor for empowerment.

While I always had a passion for educating children and exponentially driving positive change in my society. Now, I ignited my passion to be an advocate for children and also to work in areas of education in my country. We are seeing more than 3.7 million children in our country are out of school and we are still observing terrifying pictures of children who are just flashing from all over Afghanistan. Once when we had a power cut in Afghanistan, which is something usual and I surprisingly started to read the above analysis. I saw how you should organise your life or the rights of education, and that was an inspiration and moving forward. I got an idea of what activism means and how it can contribute to society in a positive change. So I started thinking about my plans of how to drive for positive change because I was interested to speak in the areas of health, wellbeing and as well as education. So initially I organised public health from public schools. Most public schools here don’t provide students with quality education, and that was the main reason why I chose to be a teacher for them. While teaching children I faced some barriers from families and neighbours because I was teaching below my house, and we have lots of apartment complexes. Above us, so most of the time they argue that this is the house, not school. It’s also worth mentioning that my family was also against my activism. So at some point, I had a burden lifted off my shoulders. But I continued to work as an activist and went to meet me to see the joy in their face. Those poor children were so thirsty for education and they never expected it. They have never experienced what quality education tastes like. So I proceeded this process up to my contemporary world and even now I’m a teacher of more than 15 students, and they paved my way to be chosen as a young leader among 5600 applicants that also paved another way for me to be a global youth reporter, which aims to battle eight as an international level for an organisation which is called, a Team Harmony Foundation, One of my biggest achievements came with being the representative for children at our respected Minister of Education and the first child to be involved in the ratification of the national convention of children. Such an action happened for the first time in Afghanistan for a child to be involved in policy ratification, policy implementation, accountability, monitoring and evaluation and lucky enough, I started my project, one year after I started my activism. So my biggest contribution to people especially for the children came when implementing my literacy centre which is now called, Resource Literacy Centre. I think this is one of the biggest contributions that I have done to sustained education for people. My literacy centre also focuses on areas of health, which tries to provide maternal and newborn health to people, especially to mothers and children because these two groups of society have been deprived in our country.

Ahmad Nissar, Young Speaker

Apart from that; we also work on emphasising the importance of education to people living with disability and the marginalised population. And we also have an informal education programme that aims to teach child labour in Afghanistan. We require education that they need, or moving forward in their life. Because, in Afghanistan, I think more than 10,000 children enter the labour market each year. Also, I believe that until we don’t unite and stand together, we will never change our belief that violence against children is both normal and permissible. While it’s needed, all of us need to stand together to take a stand and do something in the community, especially in terms of education. 

Moderator: You are brainstorming and your lateral thinking on the future of 1000s of kids in your country. How can the government reach out to them? Could you share it with us?

Ahmad: Yes, I said that now the literacy centre is trying to provide education to more than 100 mothers, children in a village and that’s how I think the numbers have meant that it initially started by 10. It moved to 15 and now counts up 200. So that’s also something and I’m very delighted.

Moderator: Can you share your stories about your work, life and social perspective?

Dinh Hoang: For the past three years since my first community project, I have worked in human rights violation regarding school. So, I have created a website that divides three parts and is based on the Moodle peer to peer, which means it connects mentor to mentee, mentors to mentor and mentee to a mentee. 

Dinh Hoang Minh Ngoc, Social Activist

We have a group that connects every mentee, where we come here to discourage or to talk about their problem with solutions because we believe that our social media has been very useful in connecting people from nationwide. And besides my website, I organised a conference once a year, which will connect potential people, who can influence their locality, around the country. And concerning them together, we learn and give them opportunities to come up with the idea, and we give advice, and also we work with them as motivation in their contribution to the community.

So, when I first started my website is which was the first community project, and the first topic is about the LGBT community in the social sphere regarding human rights violations. I have been providing non-profit self-study resources and educational services on strategies to roughly 10,000 students nationwide, raising awareness of what social inequality is real. Meanwhile, in the future, I’m working to improve and dive deeper into education policy, which will help me to improve the whole country’s education system, rather than some socialism.

Menuri: Thank you so much. I have initiated a children’s club in a remote area in my country, where I have provided counselling, books and many other stationary they needed for their school. In the children club, there are around 81 children. They were never out of their comfort zone, but I showed them new ways through which they can flourish new activities and that the world around them is good. I am working for the SDGCPSL (Sustainable Development Goals Children’s Parliament of Sri Lanka) with future short term and long term projects which helps with Goal 1 and Goal 4. Well, looking forward to having me with the parting of my social activism, and I have to mainly fall into the area, and identify the children’s needs and provide them with what they want. 

Moderator: Can you share your story – Samarth?

Samarth: Thank you so much for your introduction. Hello everyone, my name is Samarth Jha and I’m from Nepal. I am one of Glocal`s 20Under20 batch of 2019. 

Talking about my social activism story; When I was nine years old, I analysed myself that I had something different. My journey started as a mental mathematician. My mother enrolled me in abacus classes at UCMAS, an education company that teaches mental math to young students. From there, my wonderful journey started where I learned mental math for all calculations and became so proficient in mental math. Similarly, at the same time, I also participated in a National level competition held by UCMAS where I won the first prize among 4000 students. 

I will tell you a different story, how someone was perceived as some sort of mental mathematician in one part of the country. When you come to a different part, no one gets involved. And you are finding your own identity, and you are trying assumptions, finding new friends, but those friends never understand. And at that point, I had been using my skills. Meanwhile, at that time something good happens. I got a lot of opportunities, and fortunately, I was able to get or to learn about myself.

Samarth Jha, Social Entrepreneur

When I was in grade 9, I participated in a Model United Nations event which was a life-changing experience for me. This experience taught me valuable analytical and speaking skills. In general, I started to speak up, I started to be more confident. I learned more about international relations and developed my habit of connecting with people. From there, a lot of things happened, I became Glocal`s 20Under20. And prior to that, I also participated in Glocal International Teen Conference. From this conference in which I learned, I saw a lot of people who were so amazing, and I was inspired to do something different to inspire other fellow teenagers.

So, I have made a group of five friends and initiated small programmes of different kinds of programmes, motivational programs for schools. The program was immensely successful and gathered positive responses. I have initiated a 4 months MentalMath training program in Purwanchal Bal Sewa Ashram so as to teach students on how to use and calculate the abacus. I also teach different Vedic math’s techniques, which helps students to solve Arithmetic problems very quickly and easily. 

Currently, during the time of the pandemic, I have initiated my own project through which aims to systematically transform the way waste is collected and segregated here in Biratnagar. Through the project, we are trying to connect all these waste collectors to people from our app, and also from our website. We are trying to make our app, as soon as possible. So this project is actually making a lot of impact in our society. I have also aimed to address SDG goal 11 so as to contribute to making my country one of the greenest counties all across Asia.

I am glad to be here with such wonderful people from all around the world and also grateful to Glocal Teen Hero for giving me this opportunity. 

Moderator: What do you intend to do, what’s your plan for the next two years, and how are you preparing for it?

Ahmad: Well, again thank you so much for the question. I, to be honest, have lots of things on my plate right now which I’m planning to do. I have been working in areas of health and education so my future plan is to make a clinic in a rural area. As two of my biggest ambitions in a dream is; implementing educational projects and capital city, which we are doing by implementing the resource literacy centre here, and also try to increase the budget allocation for literacy and education from 3.5% in Afghanistan. Also, we are aiming to make it 5.7%, which is an advocacy goal that I have made for the future. Having said, for future projects; we have been imposed relationships with many organisations and the government itself for bringing the dream into reality. So, we are trying to establish a clinic to provide people with basic health services and advice to be part of my literacy centre also emphasises maternal and newborn health.

Furthermore, as I said, we’re also advocating for an increased budget allocation for health and well being and also for an inclusive educational curriculum for marginalised populations or people who are living with a disability. So we are waking up, working on a framework to standardise clinics and rural areas with a minimum amount of accessibility, so that in the future, people don’t have to walk a distance pad in order to get outside assistance.

Dinh: Okay! My concern is how it can give access to education to children from slum and mountainous areas where they don’t have a connection to the Internet. So, I am trying to work towards creating better digital access for people who do not have that access.

Besides, I am trying to connect groups of Burmese refugees, so that they can share, care & learn better and also contribute to the growth of education policy; the newer aspects of education policy for our country. In fact, all over the world, particularly in the developing world of Asia and Africa. Education policies need a revamp, particularly in the light of the pandemic, and the need for digital and blended education. It is a complete paradigm shift.

Menuri: Thank you so much. If you identify children inside villages and rural areas, to identify cute children so that I can give them whatever their needs. Because when people started going, they identified children and talked to people about what they need to uplift the child. I think uplifting talent or education can bring them a good job for their future. I’ll be giving them whatever they need to come to that position for a better future. Also, I am focusing on street children, and even in the interiors of the country for their better access to education which leads to a better life, qualified life & dignified life for them.

Menuri Sachintha Kodikara, Social Activist

And also I have a passion for making Sri Lanka- a green place. I’m hoping to recognise multiple faces that are already green right now in Sri Lanka. They will also get to know why they’re being green. I want to make people understand why you should be green. And, so that by recognising faces which are already growing people will be interested in being green.

Samarth: Yeah! So honestly, I don’t have a strategic plan on how my next two years will be. When I see my last two years; a lot of things that I never expected had happened. So I feel that I never know, or I don’t know what the next year is going to look like or how it’s going to go, but I feel that my proper plan would be to take my project and convert it into a foundation to help these waste collectors get respect in the society. So I think one of these things are naturally like to do in the next few years, and also to expand this project, all over Nepal. And that is something that has or primary would like to do. 

Moderator: It’s important to note that while many things develop all of a sudden and you are not prepared for that. But you also need to prepare a strategy and plan to make those things happen. Because when we make plans, we go deeper, and that helps us to identify the right way. Here are a few points when you are involved with a social perspective;

 

  • Firstly, always keep your passion alive.
  • Second, connect to similar organisations within your country and outside who are doing similar work similar organisations because of the best practices. Nobody is your rival or competitor. Do not think of anyone as your rival or competitor. It is something that you can pick up from everyone. We at our age are learning from you, and you can learn from many others. So it’s important that you connect to similar organisations and never have this sense of competition at all.
  • Live by your mission, not by your recognition: Recognition is a by-product, whether the government, private or anyone, recognising you is the mission, purpose, the cause of the people for whom you’re doing is the primary focus. 
  • Activism should lead to trends and needs, merely doing an activity without conclusions will not take you anywhere. So your activism should lead to certain conclusions, trends, and needs. And those needs should help you in contributing to policymaking. 

To change the needs and from trends and needs to policymaking. This should be the journey. So always be grateful to society, to the people who have given you an opportunity to solve them, and thereby be a better human being.

Conclusion

The socio- perspective panel discussion ended by addressing some key points on the social perspective. The session provided a wonderful opportunity to hear wonderful insights and ideas from the inspirational teenagers for sharing their interactive stories and also flashed the social challenges and the setting that are needed for sustainable development on the platform of the Glocal International Teen Conference 2020.

 

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Glocal Teen Hero

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