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

Sex education to be introduced in school and madrasa curriculum of Bangladesh

Within the span of ten years, the education board has added and changed quite a few things in the curriculum here and there. However, recently the government has decided to take the initiative to launch “Sex-Reproductive Health Education” program which is quite a breakthrough for our schools and madrasas.

The brain behind the initiative

“Generation Break Through” will run the program accordingly in schools and other educational institutions around the country. The Secondary and Higher Education Department has been working on this project for about 20 to 25 years.

In an interview with Dhaka Tribune, Project Director and Director (Planning and Development) Dr Mohammad Jahangir Hossain mentioned in that the program took place in some schools and madrasas as “Phase One”. Since the program was running successfully, the government has decided to put it in under all schools and madrasas accordingly. With the end of a successful phase, the second phase of this program will start from this year. However, the official launch of this subject will occur around 2021-2022.

Better late than never

In the beginning, there were some concerns as most teachers and education institutions were doubtful of the program. However, with proper training funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the project broke through the stereotypes by taking small and steady steps. According to the sources, despite the “social constricting” ideologies, parents in most education institutions took an interest in the program.

Elementary and middle school students are studying under this program through sports at ‘Gender Equality for All Corner’ or ‘Teenage Corner’ established in the institutions. From the second phase onward, the program will have strict rules to accommodate trained teachers, fixed content and the consistent habit of creating a healthy environment for the students.

Small steps to a safer space

In a society where sexual abuse of both genders has increased at an alarming rate, sex education is a very crucial step for us. The idea of consent is much more diverse than we think of it to be.

“Be it a village or an urban society youths are sexually active, so they must know the dos and don’ts about safe sex and hygiene, in order to make the right decisions with situations like these”

Says Nusrat Zahid, a student of Bangladesh University of Professionals, when asked about her take on this new program.

The fundamental knowledge about sexual reproductive health and safe sex will bring awareness among youths and their surroundings.

Sex education to be introduced in school and madrasa curriculum of Bangladesh

Within the span of ten years, the education board has added and changed quite a few things in the curriculum here and there. However, recently the government has decided to take the initiative to launch “Sex-Reproductive Health Education” program which is quite a breakthrough for our schools and madrasas.

The brain behind the initiative

“Generation Break Through” will run the program accordingly in schools and other educational institutions around the country. The Secondary and Higher Education Department has been working on this project for about 20 to 25 years.

In an interview with Dhaka Tribune, Project Director and Director (Planning and Development) Dr Mohammad Jahangir Hossain mentioned in that the program took place in some schools and madrasas as “Phase One”. Since the program was running successfully, the government has decided to put it in under all schools and madrasas accordingly. With the end of a successful phase, the second phase of this program will start from this year. However, the official launch of this subject will occur around 2021-2022.

Better late than never

In the beginning, there were some concerns as most teachers and education institutions were doubtful of the program. However, with proper training funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the project broke through the stereotypes by taking small and steady steps. According to the sources, despite the “social constricting” ideologies, parents in most education institutions took an interest in the program.

Elementary and middle school students are studying under this program through sports at ‘Gender Equality for All Corner’ or ‘Teenage Corner’ established in the institutions. From the second phase onward, the program will have strict rules to accommodate trained teachers, fixed content and the consistent habit of creating a healthy environment for the students.

Small steps to a safer space

In a society where sexual abuse of both genders has increased at an alarming rate, sex education is a very crucial step for us. The idea of consent is much more diverse than we think of it to be.

“Be it a village or an urban society youths are sexually active, so they must know the dos and don’ts about safe sex and hygiene, in order to make the right decisions with situations like these”

Says Nusrat Zahid, a student of Bangladesh University of Professionals, when asked about her take on this new program.

The fundamental knowledge about sexual reproductive health and safe sex will bring awareness among youths and their surroundings.

Teach your younger ones consent with this educational video by BRAC

We live in a country where people are not made aware of the concept of “consent”. Especially, there is no scope for the younger ones to know what consent even means. 

All thanks to the BRAC educational program, this educational video has everything about consent that we need to show our younger ones in the most children-friendly way possible.

Click here to watch the video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=379794182771421

This child-friendly video differentiates “good touch” from “bad touch”. It illustrates the concept of “private body parts” in a very simple way. It also talks for both the young boys and young girls and teaches them to be courageous.

The video tells them in the simplest ways, to speak up whenever they feel their body-boundaries are being violated by anyone close or distant. If anything nonconsensual happens to them, children are encouraged to share that with their parents and teachers without any fear of getting scolded at. 

You see, the “bad guy” here can be anyone! Can be of any genders. Can be a relative or a stranger. And this group of people with vile intentions sometimes persuade young children with toys and foods. The video teaches the children not to get lured by the attractions, and to inform their parents before going anywhere. 

We need to give everyone- no matter what the age- a voice. We need to give children a reassurance-  

Hey, child, you are not responsible for someone else’s disgusting action driven by his/her sickening motive. Do not feel guilty for something bad you experienced in which you did not have a say. Do not be afraid to speak up. You are not alone, we all are here, and we are listening to you.