Raising a single child is a challenge and a responsibility, so how much more so is educating and raising generations of young people? Egypt’s young people are often energised enough to rock the world, but they can also be confronted by a reality that diverts them from realising their dreams, encouraging them to engage in social-media activities that can give them only false happiness.
Engaging our young people in more constructive tasks is something that needs to be addressed differently.
Egyptian young people are unfortunate in many respects. They often don’t receive a suitable education that can help them to obtain the jobs they desire. They are often overburdened with huge financial obligations to start a family.
They live in a society where moral values are shrinking, and they lack true role models they can follow. Meanwhile, state rhetoric is often framed by the obsolete ideas of the older generations which may contribute little to the development of today’s youth.
Our nation needs to create “intellectual buffers” to fill the gap between the state and its young people, something like a scholarly shield that has the ability to listen to our young people’s ideas, knows how to capitalise on their energy, and offers them scientific mentoring.
Commercial enterprises, political parties, and social clubs, among others, are organisations that could assume this role and provide the financial sponsorship for some of our young people’s ideas.
Engaging our youth in community service, with the option to choose the type of work they would like to contribute to, should be an obligation.
The state needs to articulate policies that can help to engage thousands of our young people in such work, which would itself help to eliminate many of the state’s present challenges.
The state should work to stimulate our young people to shape their own prospects by engaging them in proposing solutions to our problems and advancing their own ideas.
There should be a pool of experts who would work to mentor such ideas, without imposing their own. Egypt needs ideas that will help to enhance the country’s low productivity, decrease its subsidy bills, and reduce its pollution levels. Indeed, the list of challenges is almost endless.
Meanwhile, living in a chaotic society can encourage our young people to adopt reckless attitudes that are rapidly spreading in the present era.
This behaviour will change when the state begins to apply stricter regulations to the entire community, starting with the most powerful. The proper application of the rule of law will discipline society as a whole and form more committed youngsters.
A number of Egyptian music bands dominated by talented young people have emerged in recent years in what has been a wonderful cultural development that we need to extend to other domains.
We need to prompt our young people to assume greater responsibility by encouraging them to actively articulate their futures, both intellectually and practically.
We should consider merging the Ministry of Youth and Sports with the Ministry of Culture, thereby empowering a single minister to shape our youthful society and make optimal use of our nation’s energy.
The “buffer entities” that I am advocating could also work to request the president to pardon some of our imprisoned young people who could then be sponsored to engage in community service.
We need to understand and address the challenges faced by our young people better. Let’s consider releasing their ideas and energies into projects that can benefit the nation.
*The writer is a liberal politician.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 July, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: How Egypt can shape its youth