ActionAid Bangladesh’s Pathway to Ensuring the Implementation of National Youth Policy 2017 

National Youth Day celebration 2019. Credit_ Dhrubotara Youth Development Foundation (DYDF)

ActionAid Bangladesh has worked with young people and youth organisations to advocate for the formulation of National Youth Policy (NYP). This advocacy was advanced to ensure the implementation the NYP through the formation of a National Youth Action Plan to promote youth leadership at all tiers of development intervention.

A Change in Progress

Realisation of youth potential is crucial in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ‘Leave No One Behind’ development approach. To ensure the effective implementation of the NYP with active engagement of government agencies and allocation of adequate resources, advocacy initiatives were advanced.

As a result of the advocacy efforts during the period of the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) I, the Ministry of Youth and Sports developed the National Youth Action Plan in 2020, detailing the responsibilities of different government ministries to implement NYP 17. In 2021, the Department of Youth Development issued a circular to form the National Youth Council to promote youth leadership across the country. The adaptation of the National Youth Action Plan and formation of National Youth Council were instrumental in holistically implementing the policy.

The advocacy efforts also resulted in an increase in the budget centred on young people. As per the budget allocation for the fiscal year of 2022-23, the allocation for the education sector is BDT 81,449 crore or 12 percent of the total, compared to 11.9 percent in the previous year. BDT 9,728 crore was allocated for Technical and Vocational and Madrasah education. The government has allocated BDT 1,282 crore for the Youth and Sports Ministry in the proposed annual budget for the 2022-23 fiscal, while it was BDT 1,264 crore in the previous year. It has been proposed to reduce the turnover tax for start-ups to 0.10 per cent from the existing 0.60 per cent. It has also been proposed that BDT 1,917 crore will be allocated for the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Division- BDT 274 crore more than that of the last financial year. A special provision has been made in the budget for the trans community- a company or an organisation will enjoy tax rebate amounting to 75% of the total salary paid to third gender workers. The changes are bound to have a long-term impact on youth-centric policies.

A Glimpse into Activities 

  • ActionAid Bangladesh initiated advocacy efforts with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the  Department of Youth Development through a policy dialogue titled ‘Future Bangladesh and National Action Plan for Youth Development: Youth’s Expectations from the New Government’, and a roundtable titled 'Election 2018: Manifesto for Youth', in collaboration with Prothom Alo and the Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) in 2018 to explore the priorities of young people for developing a national action plan for the NYP.
  • 211 young people were sensitised on the significance of the NYP and relevant national policies and laws through capacity development in 2018-19.
  • ActionAid Bangladesh organised a National Youth Conference in 2019 with 500 young people, and an online National Youth Parliament Budget Session in 2020 with 300 young delegates, where they raised their demands regarding the NYP to relevant ministries and stakeholders.
  • A roundtable titled ‘Translating National Youth Policy in Action Plan: Counting Young People’s Perspective’ was organised with Dhaka Tribune to understand the perspectives of young people from diverse backgrounds on the implementation of the NYP17.
  •  In October 2020, young people, with the support of ActionAid Bangladesh and Dhrubotara Youth Development Foundation (DYDF), organised a dialogue with media and a national level youth consultation to share their aspirations to be reflected in the NYP implementation process.
  • With a focus on the development of a Youth Budget Framework to ensure adequate investment in young people in Bangladesh, ActionAid Bangladesh and South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM) conducted a study to produce a Sectoral Action Plan, which was shared through a dialogue titled ‘Sectoral Action Plan for Youth Sensitive Budgeting’ in 2021.
  • In 2020-21, ActionAid Bangladesh and a2i jointly initiated advocacy with the Cabinet Division (Government of Bangladesh) to promote skills and employment for young people by aligning skills with industry. As a result of the advocacy, 42 matchmaking workshops were organised in 2020-21.

Online consultation series on the implementation of National Youth Policy 2017. Credit_ Dhrubotara Youth Development Foundation (DYDF)

Tracking Success

After persistent advocacy initiatives by ActionAid Bangladesh and like-minded organisations, the Ministry of Youth and Sports developed the National Youth Action Plan by allocating responsibilities to the respective government ministries and departments in 2020. In 2021, Ministry of Youth Development published the gazette notification detailing the formation of the National Youth Council to set and implement a youth led development agenda, while the Department of Youth Development issued a circular to form the National Youth Council.

ActionAid Bangladesh initiated measures in 2022 to identify market demands and disseminate them to skills and employment-related agencies. A matchmaking workshop with the participation of 21 industries and 24 skill development organisations, four job fairs and four talent hunt events in collaboration with a2i and different Technical training Centre (TTCs), ‘National Career Guidance Network for Unemployed Youth’ workshop in collaboration with a2i and more than 25 career guidance parties were organised; 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and Internet of Things (IoT) based 4 competency standard, a policy brief in collaboration with SANEM on ‘Addressing the Vulnerability of Youth in Bangladesh: Policy and Resource Allocation’ and 6 position papers in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) were developed.

Way Forward

ActionAid Bangladesh, with support from Global Platform Bangladesh and through the experience and expertise of well-directed, demand-driven advocacy, has enabled and empowered young people to achieve their rights. ActionAid Bangladesh played a significant role in connecting the stakeholders with the rights-holders, from the local level to the national, and developed a platform where young people from all over Bangladesh can raise their voice.

This journey has divulged a plethora of learning interventions. The most significant insight that ensued from the result is that continuous advocacy effort in unison with the relevant stakeholders can indeed bring about impactful changes. To ensure the implementation of the policy and the promotion of youth leadership at all tiers of development, it is essential that advocacy efforts are continued.