Maithreyi attended the National Symposium on Youth Work and Youth Rights, conducted by Samvada on 30 October 2018 at the United Theological College, Miller’s Road, Bangalore.
The symposium brought together speakers from both academia and advocacy, and covered themes related to education, employment, social inclusion, health and well-being. The panels highlighted a number of critical points related to youth. It started with a discussion of how youth, seen as a demography by the state, fails to understand the multiplicities of youthhood and their different needs. The panel on health and well-being built upon this, pointing to how health and mental health needs vary by geography, sex, caste-class and various other inter-sectional positionalities that youth take on. The panel on social inclusion highlighted the dilemmas of representation, discussing how representation of dalit/adivasi youth on media always present gory images of death, rape and other atrocities (that these youth no doubt face in greater proportion), and questioned why there were no accounts of dalit/ adivasi youth leaders as part of our public consciousness.
Further, a discussion on the need to engage non-marignalised youth with the experiences of marginalised youth, through creation of shared spaces and their pedagogic value for inclusion was highlighted by another speaker.
In the education panel, a discussion on the focus of policy on expansion through affiliation was discussed, and it was argued that this revealed how the state viewed its role only in terms of creating infrastructure but not conditions to ensure participation and equity. It was argued that expansion and equity can be better served if policy focused on extension – which involved practices of community engagement. In the employment panel, it was pointed out that the number of educated people in the labour force has grown sharply in the last five to seven years and is unprecedented. The speaker argued that while educated youth saw themselves as only fit for desk jobs, employers do not consider their skills as relevant for the industry. On the other hand there is also a large chunk of uneducated youth with high levels of skills in certain fields. It was argued that in the current scenario we are seeing a dichotomy wherein educated youth are not seen as having the relevant skills, where uneducated youth having the right set of skills are filling up the informal sector.