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Jordanian youth need support as they strive to make a positive change

Dec 10,2018 - Last updated at Dec 10,2018

To properly set the tone, and align our thoughts, together, we must admit that the current situation is stressful and without a doubt, sending out negative vibes. Not only that, but a state of depression and disappointment and a pessimistic view of the future is taking over the mindset of the overall sociocultural schema of our people, which might have a direct influence on the financial and economic crises, high prices and the inability to cope with them by a large social segment, as shown by public opinion polls. 

We should not fail to mention that the current depressing status is not limited to the financial and economic situation; rather it touches a deeper and vital base relating to high levels of uncertainty and trust dilemmas, forming “grey areas” in the way society is looking at their status quo, future, and direction. Such uncertainties and discomfort over the future is absolutely the number-one priority on the “list of concerns” of everyone, including His Majesty King Abdullah, who has addressed the issue at meetings with governmental officials and bluntly asked them “Where are we going?!”

What worries our society as a whole, and is a priority on the “list of concerns” mentioned above, is the unemployment rate, which affect hundreds of thousands of youth and will impact the future of our children unless we were able to find effective, transformative and workable solutions tackling the root-cause of the problem and solving it accordingly. Unemployment’s negative effects are not only economic, but they also involve social and cultural issues, whereby the rise in unemployment rates leads to unfavourable consequences, be it drug addiction, extremism or sociocultural deterioration as a result of an increasing weakness in the power of the country’s cultural and conceptual messages.  

With all that being said, allow me to reflect on my own experience since my appointment as the minister of culture and youth almost two months ago, and admit that the negative misconception towards our youth is unfair, wrong and does not relate to reality by any means. What I have experienced, seen and assessed since my appointment and close engagement with them, through several activities, is commitment, dedication to make a positive change, hunger for knowledge and innovative ideation. All this can be seen through several initiatives and movements, among the most noticeable of which is the civilised attitude seen through recent protests, whether during the holy month of Ramadan, at the Fourth Circle, or the most recent ones. Although some protesters portrayed a wrong image of what our youth stand for, they do not constitute the majority nor reflect the overall view of our youth. 

Our youth are fuelled with ideas, energised with optimism and are moving at a fast pace, that spares us — the Ministry of Culture and Youth — the efforts of motivating them to move, and leaves us with the commitment to support them! Their thoughts, initiatives, overviews and entrepreneurial ideas motivate us, rather than the other way around. Not only that, but it also helps bridge several gaps to ensure fully fledged holistic efforts to cover the financial support needed, guidance, positive impacts on the overall society through charity work and nationalising efforts through liaising with different governmental bodies. 

Successful examples of our youth are numerous: they are our valuable assets and sense of pride. They allow us to see the light at the end of tunnel and destress the tension. They reached places, nominations and competitions of the highest levels with the lowest resources, not only that, but a significant number of them are youth suffering from disabilities (whom we refer to as; youth with high motivation) that were able to prove to us that nothing is impossible in the face of the Jordanian youth. 

In light of our Kingdom’s history, its ability to solidify its position and ground itself in the most difficult and challenging situations, youth are proving that their roots stem from grounds of an inspiring, efficacious and committed nature — those of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This, per se, is a relief to our nation, and underlines the ability of our youth to face and overcome current and future challenges. 

It has been seen, for a while now, that the awareness our youth holds in overcoming and bridging gaps between our educational systems, job opportunities, public and private sector and their engagement in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, along with several entrepreneurial activities is exceeding expectations, and in all means going viral in all educational bodies and industries. The Ministry of Culture and Youth, alongside the Crown Prince Foundation, King Abdullah II Development Fund and the private sector are working closely together to promote initiatives that serve the interests of our youth and support their entrepreneurial spirit, providing job opportunities and setting the tone of the government’s priorities in the fight against unemployment, and the promotion of the empowerment of youth. 

We should not fail to mention that youth empowerment is not only limited to economic and financial aspects. We are continuously stressing the importance of the role they should play in the political sphere. We cannot split their rights and deny them their right to bea  part of determining their future, through empowering them and engaging them in political activities, which allow them to release their power of expression, and prove themselves through their well-rounded political knowledge and opinions. 

With the protests at the Fourth Circle reoccurring, several questions come to mind in relation to the question: “How will we achieve youth empowerment and be responsive to what they are asking for?” Primarily, I should stress on the fact that the misconception that has been going around, claiming that the youth’s requirements are only limited to the economic side, and that they are not interested in politics. On the contrary, through my discussions and engagement with them, I can say that they want both economic and political reforms. 

What we aim for, at the Ministry of Culture and Youth, is to enable our youth politically, sponsor unique youth leadership and empower them to play their roles in public life, whether through governmental or civil bodies. Of course, reaching scalable solutions is not solely our responsibility; through the effective discussions we have with them, we continuously propose solutions and possible scenarios to reach a middle ground. As part of our political youth programmes, we are currently working on a “Youth Shadow Parliament” and a “Youth Shadow Government” that facilitate youth leadership. 

Restressing the importance of the priorities announced by the government, it is absolutely untrue that political reform is scrapped off the list, or is no longer a priority. I am one of the committee members and we are constantly suggesting, assessing and analysing solutions such as decentralisation, and youth involvement to facilitate the enabling of political refinement.  

Therefore, what we are looking for as the Ministry of Culture and Youth is to transform the current youth revolutionary status quo into effective political activity through different and various forms. This will expand their horizons of knowledge and experience, and help transform their outlook and perspectives towards a more promising future. 

Despite the current tension society is going through, we see a future in our greatest asset: our youth. They are a highly promising generation that will help achieve the transformation of the overall situation of our country, and will also play a role in bringing about positive change, regionally and internationally. We are committed and dedicated to the improvement of society, youth and humanity, and putting our Kingdom, and youth specifically, on the world map of innovation and youth empowerment.

 

The writer is the minister of culture and youth. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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