Debating for development: UNFPA Bangladesh Youth Dialogue

From November 12-14, 2019, the Government of Kenya, the Government of Denmark, and UNFPA are convening the Nairobi Summit, a high-level conference to advance the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action. The conference will offer an inclusive platform, bringing together governments, UN agencies, civil society, private sector organisations, women’s groups and youth networks to discuss and agree on actions to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

On September 6, 2019, UNFPA Bangladesh in collaboration with Bangladesh Debating Council (BDC) and Independent University, Bangladesh Debating club (IUBDC) launched a two-day debate tournament at the premises of Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).

The tournament was organised with an objective to engage the youth, where the participants from universities – both public and private – can engage in an extensive discussion on how the realisation of the ICPD Agenda is intrinsic to sustainable economic growth for Bangladesh.

Their voices echoed through the debates on a range of topics that are close to UNFPA’s agenda. The ideas and recommendations of the participants will be presented to the stakeholders of national and international development to the Summit.

The debate tournament addressed real-world issues and brought out the voice of the youth on problems like disseminating messages on specific ICPD themes: sexual reproductive health and rights, maternal health, prevent violence against women and child marriage. To empower and involve them to disseminate these issue-based messages to their peers and to bring the attention of policymakers about the needs of youth-based SRHR services: prevention of child marriage, maternal mortality and violence against women. To build awareness among adolescents and youth about the opportunities and challenges associated with them.

To mark the Summit, 16 teams from reputed public and private universities from Dhaka, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Chattogram were invited to participate in this competition, along with 22 most reputed judges in the debate circuit. The teams had four preliminary rounds of debate that were carried out on September 6. All the teams faced off against each other where the top four teams at the end of the preliminary rounds qualified for the finals held on September 7, 2019.

The championship went to Independent University, Bangladesh Debate Club (IUBDC) with the runners-up award going to IBA, University of Dhaka.

The debates were followed by a youth-centric plenary session opened by Dr Asa Torkelsson, Representative of UNFPA whose opening remarks echoed the vision of the UNFPA.

“UNFPA has been working with and for young people since our inception. Our partnerships with young people are, and must always be, based on their active and meaningful participation. In order to achieve the ICPD Agenda from 25 years ago, we need to take account of your experiences, concerns and stories to shape an inclusive future for you, who will also help us achieve the SDGs.”

She said

The speech was followed by a presentation on the topic by UNFPA Deputy Representative, Eiko Narita. Following that Sakib Bin Rashid, Instructor at 10 Minute School, Ashreen Mridha, Bangladesh Women’s National Basketball Team Player, and Umama Zillur, Founder of Kotha, led an interactive session covering youth leadership, women empowerment and sexual violence.

“On behalf of the entire English debating community of Bangladesh I am honoured that the UNFPA entrusted us to help crowdsource important ideas to be taken into consideration at Nairobi, this validates that the time the youth spend behind researching and generating discourse on these crucial ideas do indeed matter and has encouraged us all to keep the discourse going so that our ideas and voices can play a role in the ever changing global landscape.”

Said Fardeen Ameen, the Chair of Bangladesh Debating Council

5 things you should know before chasing the ‘University Life’

From middle school till high school we get to hear one common phrase from our elders. “Study now, in order to ‘chill’ when you head for University”.

The idea of becoming ‘free’ from multiple disciplinary academics is such a fantasy to all ‘to-be’ freshmen that they believe the prank that society plays on them. Most of us have faced the harsh reality, and have our ways of coping with it. But for those who haven’t applied for University or will be heading for it, here are the things you should know before you dwell into a journey of ‘adulthood’.

1. The Battle to get into a Public University

Right after you finish A levels or HSC, comes the most difficult competition of it all. It often leads to a nationwide swirl every year over the opportunity to get admitted to a public university. While it is an amazing opportunity that you earn for yourself, it is also important to realize that not getting into one, does not necessarily mean that you do not have it in you to be a smart student.

Public universities are not golden gooses and it certainly isn’t the end of the road.

Read more: Where the real pride of Dhaka University lies

There are multiple Universities all across the country which offers you a certificate and scholarships you deserve. So, try not to break down, because you need to save up some energy to deal with quite a lot of adult problems ahead.

2. Choose your major wisely

By now, you should know what you love to do, and even if you don’t, that is also okay. However, try to choose a major or a department you want to genuinely study in and want to enjoy learning.

Read more: Choosing the right foreign university

If you want to study engineering, good on you. But if you want to be a writer or an anthropologist and you end up taking Computer Science and Engineering because you are too afraid of what your relatives might say of you, do understand this, none of them will help you out at 3 am in the morning to finish your assignment which will be due in the next six hours. You deserve the best in the world and you have to learn to fight for it.

3. You need to be present

Whether it is an orientation or a discussion which helps you with understanding the curriculum of your University or your department in details, you need to be there. Once you do get acquainted with everything, right after your classes start, it might be tempting to miss classes since you have been such a goody two shoes all your school life.

You might think you ‘owe it to yourself’ but understand your priority first, then the luxury, my friend. Regular attendance in your classes will not only help you keep in track with quizzes and lectures but you might also be a friendly face to your professor which will help you in the long run. The idea of getting a good grade in your courses is to be present, no matter what!

4. There is nothing called ‘chill time’ in your prime time

Sadly, the idea of having the most independent and free time when you are studying in a University is a lie that parents feed us so that we study more when it is easy to control us.

Of course, when you are in a University, you get to meet new people, hang out more, take time for finding your passion for something you were always interested in such as a part-time job, travel with your friends etc.

Read more: Struggles of an English major in Bangladesh

But it all becomes difficult to handle when you try to adjust all this while you are trying to graduate. This leads up to late night study hours, overeating, anxiety and that is where you really need to unleash the energy we told you to hold onto.

It might be tricky, but it’s not impossible to experience the best of everything with little time management hacks. All in all, enjoy your time but do not let yourself drift away.

Read more: Perils of Graduation

5. Treat yourself!

While you go through the freshmen, sophomore and senior phases of the years you are in the University, you will realize that not all friendships last, not everyone you like will love you back, that society has constructions you wish you knew before, that there are these crowds who call themselves “boro bhais” and they are of no use to you and that is okay.

Read more: 5 Bangladeshi platforms where you can pitch your startup

With all the hardships you may think you have to face, there is also a beam of light which will get you through it all. You need to sleep well, eat healthy, make healthy relationships with people and they do not have to be a handful. Most importantly treat yourself after every accomplishment or failure you may face in life because before anyone else you need to learn to love yourself.

Here’s to figuring out adulthood and much more!