A message for the World Youth Conference May 2014
Posted on May 6th, 2014

By Garvin Karunaratne

Bringing about World Peace is the motto of this year’s World  Youth Conference. While Peace is an ideal to be achieved, it is necessary to assess the most burning  problem faced by youths all over the World. Unemployment and low incomes is undoubtedly the burning problem of the day and deserves some thought- and a second place at this Conference.

In every country the unemployment rate is highest amongst the youth. The rate varies from 40% in countries like South Africa to below 10%. Countries where the youth unemployment rate is high are perching on top of a keg of gunpowder, that can erupt at any moment, given a small match stick. The writer was privy to the youth revolt in Sri Lanka in 1971 as the administrator of a major District, where three fourths of the District was in rebel control for some three weeks. The 1971 rebellion left at least 10,000 youths dead.  Again the youths rebelled in 1987-1988 and had to be put down with the gun. Then it is estimated that around 70 to 80 thousand died.

What were the causes? Regarding the  rebellion in April 1971, the youth were instrumental in getting Sirimavo to power in the June 1970 parliamentary election and  wanted jobs and the Government was drafting a special programme to bring about employment- the Divisional Development Councils Programme when the JVP struck, which effectively delayed the implementation of the Programme. It was established that North Korea had played a major role in brining about that uprising. The embassy was immediately closed down and the diplomats deported. I think it was an attempt to take over power by attacking all police stations in a day, like what Castro did in Cuba. I had the opportunity to interview many of the youths who handed themselves in and their main grouse was the lack of employment and incomes.

In 1987-1988 the revolt was not ordered from foreign countries. The UNP under President Jayawardena  had embraced the IMF’s teaching of the free economy, which took away the control of the foreign exchange earnings of the country from the country’s Central Bank  and allowed it to be pillaged and plundered by the rich in the country for their foreign jaunts, luxury imports, to educate their children in foreign universities and when the foreign exchange earnings were insufficient the IMF advice was to raise further loans. In order to entice the countries to follow this path, loans were given at low interest with long grace periods The Rupee was devalued by over a hundred percent in 1978.. The local interest rate was increased to 24% and industries closed down unable to face the competition from imports that were allowed to come in at zero tariffs. Sri Lanka became a haven for imports. The hall marks were poverty among the masses and unemployment among the youth

Unemployment and low incomes for the majority of the youth in almost every Third World country today is purely due to the countries following the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programme where the countries were somehow enticed to take loans and enter a spending spree. These loans have ballooned into an unsustainable foreign debt, There will be additional causes like the fact that the high unemployment in South Africa is entirely due to the fact that to obtain the liberation of Nelson Mandela from prison, the blacks had to agree to the Whites remaining in full control of the economy.  The Mandelas and Mbekis talk big but they are ‘imprisoned’ by the Whites and have to follow all their dictates, this time not as apartheid but as black policies. In Zimbabwe things are different. At independence at the Lancaster House Agreement the Prime Minister of Britain agreed to provide compensation for the White Farmers when their land is taken over for distribution to the landless blacks after ten years. Come ten years when President Mugabe wanted to take over the estates of the Whites to be parceled among the blacks, Prime Minister Tony Blair reneged on the Lancaster House Agreement of providing compensation-  and instead ordered Mugabe to stop take over of the White Estates. the land that the Whites had plundered from the people some seventy years ago in the Rhodesian colonial days. Mugabe was undeterred and took over estates from the Whites and commenced parceling them among the unemployed blacks. Then Tony Blair ordered sanctions and the economy of Zimbabwe grounded to a halt, causing massive unemployment and poverty.

Thus the youth have to study the causes that have brought about unemployment in their own countries and thereafter find methods to combat that problem.

In this context  I can quote the achievement of the Youth Self Employment Programme of Bangladesh, not because I was  the expert who designed and established that programme but because this is the one and only development programme  the world has so far known, which  has successfully guided two million youths (by 2011) to establish commercially viable enterprises. This Programme was an appendage to work side by side with all vocational training programmes, where the youths in training were voluntarrily enlisted and guided to establish enterprises that would provide them with an income.

Let me provide some details of how it all began:

The Ministry of Youth Development was training 40,000 youths in a variety of vocations as done in every country. Though they were graduated with pomp and pageantry at the end of the training, most of them never found employment. After Bangladesh was taken over by the Military in1982 all youth develemnent programmes were closely assessed by the Minister for Labour and Manpower. In that process he questioned me, the only foreigner at the Conference as to what contribution I could make for Bangladesh. I submitted that there should be an employment creation programme to involve all youths who are being trained to be guided to become employed.  I was not aware  that in the earlier three years the ILO had tried to establish an employment creation programme in Tangail which was a miserable failure. I was told that it was a task that could not be done. and told that the Government did not have money to waste. I argued that I had established many employment projects and I could do it.  The Secretaries for Finance and a number of Ministries argued that it could not be done. The Hon Minister allowed me to argue out and after two hours of  intense debate stopped all of us. He questioned all the Ministry Secretaries if they had any programme that guided youths to become employed to which they said they had none. “Then why do you object to it being done. I approved the Employment Creation Programme.”

Let me illustrate what we did.

A group of girls were attending dress making  classes at the Vocational Training Centre in Jamalpur. None of them made anything for sale. The Deputy Director of Youth exhorted them to make dresses for sale. Only one had a sewing machine at home. The Deputy Director made arrangements for the sewing machines at the Training Centre to be used after  training. The girls made dresses working till ten in the night. They took their production to the training classes the next day and studied the defects and got instructions to make better dresses. In a few months they were making elegant dresses. The Deputy Director for Youth arranged for their dresses to be sold at shops.

The Progress:
“Currently the income of the two older members are over Taka 1000 a month The average income of the four older members were Tk. 712 in January and Tk. 870 in February 1983” This was achieved within  eight months. ( A Clerical Officer in the Public Sector earned only Tk. 800 a month)(From  The Interim Evaluation of the Self Employment Programme in Jamalpur District, March 1983)

Livestock and Dairy Farming
“The brother of one trainee, Yousuf Ali of  Bhavkee, Jamalpur, who had completed his training in livestock and dairy farming a few months earlier, had seen the negative  aspects of the training his brother had received. The training that Yousuf Ali had got made him assertive even amounting to harm the amicable relationship he had with his own family members.  He had become so disruptive at home in not knowing what to do with the skills and knowledge he had acquired that made his brother come to the office of the Deputy Director of Youth in Jamalpur to make a complaint about the training in that it had made his brother a total rebel at home and even threatened to burn the office down.  The Deputy Director  had gone and met Yousuf Ali and had motivated him to come  for the sessions that we were addressing to motivate youths on the Pilot Project.  Yousuf Ali was an immediate convert and his brother, the person that had threatened to burn the office down had also come to see what we were doing to his brother. After the session he very positively  responded by providing funds for his brother  to purchase a cow and a few dozen chicks.”

Later in August 1983, “on a surprise inspection, I found Yousuif Ali, with 190 layer ducks,  50 hens, 1 milk cow and 2 goats earning a net income of Tk. 1496 in December 1982, all achieved within eight months.. Furthermore he was also found providing  training at his farm to 20 younger boys in the 12-14 age range; the boys themselves were having mini farms of  about 20 ducklings each,  developing them under the tutelage of Yousuf Ali”(From, Garvin Karunaratne, ” “Success in Development” (Godages, Colombo, 2010)

These were the humble beginning of the Youth Self Employment Programme of Bangladesh, which by February 2011 had guided two million youths to be self employed. Many of the trainees developed their projects and their earnings in a few months surpassed the salary drawn by a Clerical Officer in the Public Sector. 

The Design of the program as developed in 1982-1983 took on the following form:
Teaching basic economics to all trainees. This included costing material and labour, calculating profits/losses, commercial viability and strategies for maximizing production,Studies in the economy, both local and national to ascertain areas of entrepreneurship where there was a high potential for employment creation,Following the concepts of (1) Import substitution, (2) Self ”sufficiency, (3) Assessing Consumer Demand and Production to cater to such demand and (4) Self Reliance,

All Training Institutes were altered to handle training as well as post training employment creation. The latter was to be done by providing technical assistance to the youths who commenced their projects,Training was limited to three months’ intensive. Additional training sessions were undertaken  as and when required.  In livestock and agriculture the training was residential.

The trainees were guided to make their own employment creation projects. All projects were to involve their family members. This ploy brought in resources as well as expanded the scope of employment creation projects to include family support and family members,
No subsidies were given. Intensive non-formal education guidance was provided to enable the youths to develop their projects to become commercially viable within six months. The aim was to reach the salary level of a clerical officer in  the Public Sector.
After my assignment the Programme was continued by Bangladeshi administrators who were trained by me.

The Program was expanded to 7,000 by 1987, to 16,000 by 1992 and to 160,000 per year from 1997. By March 2008, 2.9 million youth were trained of whom 56 % ” 1.6 million were self employed on a commercially viable basis. By February 2011, over two million had been guided to be self employed.(Report of the Govt. of Bangladesh to the IFAD(FAO) dated 19/2/2011)

The YSEP has stood the test of time for well over two decades. The Five Year Plan of 1997-2002  of the Planning Commission of Bangladesh devotes 8 pages to this Program. This is easily the premier employment creation program that one can find in the world today.  All other programs involve training and apprenticeship only and never include the tasks of motivating people, involving them in non-formal education endeavor to develop their abilities and capacities, through technical guidance and management advice, provided as they worked on their projects aimed at becoming commercially viable.

The creation of employment for the youths is today the main task of the Ministry of Youth. A Ministry that once attended to vocational training and social welfare for the youth has been transformed to be the major  institution that attends to economic development, creating employment and national production. It has led to a movement in self employment creation with many non governmental organizations following in its wake.
A full account of this Programme is documented in my books; ” How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka & Alternative Programmes of Success”(2006) and  “Success in Development.

In a world riddled with unemployment and poverty, employment creation for the youth deserves immediate attention.

Garvin Karunaratne,
Ph. D. Michigan State University,
Former Government Agent, Matara Distrcit, Sri Lanka.
Commonwealth Fund Advisor to the Ministry of Labour and Manpower Bangladesh 1982-83
30 th April 2014

7 Responses to “A message for the World Youth Conference May 2014”

  1. Nanda Says:

    “It cannot be second to any of your interests; nor can it be sacrificed for any gain whatsoever. There may be outside pressures to compromise your love for your country but all such pressures must be resisted at any cost. Only then, can we build a better world for all of us without destroying the cultures, traditions, customs, that we are heirs to.”

    Vedi Bana ?

  2. Nanda Says:

    Our culture is being destroyed by hooligans of PC system and 13 plus gangs while fools want to keep on sacrificing youth to frontline to enjoy filthy wealth and power.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    BJP’s election manifesto has this.

    “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.”

    Tamil Hindus in SL CLAIM they are persecuted. They can go to HINDIA!

    Under BJP Hindia will accept them.

    Endian low caste Buddhists can be taken by SL in the same number.

    This way SL can BOOST Buddhist population too. They will become Sinhalese. Lets exchange Tamils with Buddhists with Endia.

  4. Christie Says:

    Unemployment among the Sinhala youth is the highest then and now. Indians, Indian colonial parasites are the cause. Time to nationalise Indian enterprises.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    INDIA should manage her own affairs re Youth & Employment and so should Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka should NOT IMPORT LABOR or allow ILLEGAL MIGRANTS TO COME IN. All illegal migrants imported by various religious bodies ought to be deported.

    TAMIL NADU is already arresting so called illegal migrants, even if they are Tamils and probably TN citizens who fled TN due to Caste/poverty issues.

    Justice has to happen in Sri Lanka for the People of Lanka re Education and Employment.

    * The GoSL has promised to include Technology as a subject in the school curriculum which is an excellent idea. Lanka is diversifying into Industrial age along with the Plantations Industry. This has to be done to avoid further strife, frustrations, divisions & death in the country – the sooner the better.

    * Also, population control through natural methods such as use of Neem (Kohomba) for both male and female, in keeping to a balance with the available Resources.

    * Govern as done in Singapore. Handle Labor problems as done in Germany. Copy success stories as Denmark, Switzerland.

    Let Hope, Peace & Prosperity reign in Lanka. Do NOT allow the Colonial ‘divide & rule’ principle to flourish in Lanka again – the Separatists are just waiting for just that !

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    A NATIONAL GOVT. for Sri Lanka should be a serious consideration.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    I said so! MR is after MPs who didn’t support the CASINO ACT. This is NOT good.

    IF NOT for GR, WW has been sacked from his ministries long time ago. IF he is sacked now, NFF and JHU (at least name sake patriots) will NOT have ANY useful ministry. ONLY traitors like Hack-Him will have important ministries.

    “Maithripala Sirisena, general secretary of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), main constituent of Sri Lanka ruling alliance is reportedly taking action to order some SLFP MPs to show cause for not voting for the Strategic Development Project Act which was recently passed in the parliament.

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the SLFP general secretary to take this action.

    Around 50 MPs of the ruling alliance did not vote for the act while coalition partner Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) members, Minister Champika Ranawaka and MP Athuraliye Rathana Thero voted against the bill.

    Minister Wimal Weerawansa who represents the National Freedom Front abstained from voting and openly criticized the government for attempting to open big casinos.

    The three MPs were not present in the government parliamentary group meeting held on May 05.

    MP Namal Rajapaksa, the son of the President was engaged in a tour in South Korea with a group of youth parliamentarians when the voting took place in the parliament.

    Several newspapers reported that dissent is brewing among constituent parties in the ruling coalition and leaders of several coalition partners are likely to shift allegiance in a future election.

    A media report said that several leaders of the government coalition parties are discussing with the major opposition United National Party (UNP) over the political situation of the country.”

    – colombopage

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