Youth’s role in nation building – How important is it?

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“Education is Singapore’s most important long-term investment in its people, and it’s a key response to the changing world,” quoted from Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong in the National Day Rally speech 2012.

The future and development of every society lies with the youths. What exactly is a youth’s role in nation building, and how does education play a part?

Ms Mazliana Mahat from People’s Association Youth Division expressed that nation building is not only a youth’s responsibility, but it involves all citizens in the country.

“The entire population have equal roles to play, for example, the government and organisations providing platforms for the youth to be active in, to grow and mature.” She said. “Our division plan events that involve the youth, to let them know that they are important, and their participation and contribution are valued.”

Many concerns surface when youths emerge as new leaders and bosses due to an increasing number of youth-related issues happening in today’s society. Such examples are underage sex, teen smoking, gang fights, unwanted pregnancy and consumption of drugs, to name a few.

“Education sets apart the right and the wrong. Adolescence is the growing stage of their lives. It is during these years that they develop from kids to mature and responsible individuals.” Ms Mazliana added.

From Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE), student and staff developer Mr Asirvatham Sursas Muthu shares his thoughts: “Youths are amazingly creative. Education can further build and develop skills, while opening doors to new opportunities.”

Mr Asrivatham believes that if guided and molded by education, youths can be valuable assets to our society and nation. The youths of today are the new leaders of tomorrow, because when the time comes, they will be the ones to take over, whether the society allows or is in favour of this idea. “Education helps youth define career objectives, decide what they want from life and enable them to achieve what they dream of,” he says.

It is costly to attend school and it takes years to complete studies. However, most parents still find it a need to send their children to school, fighting for their kids to be educated in better institutions and some even sending them for tuition.

Ms Elaine Ng, 51, parent of an 11-year-old and a fresh graduate from Nanyang Polytechnic, expressed: “As a parent, I do not want to take risks. I think of all the possibilities about what will happen if I do not send my children to school, and I do not see any good future for them.”

“I would like to think that my children will grow up to be useful resources to the society. By sending them to school, there is no guarantee, but there is a higher chance of that happening.” She adds.

“Education expose the youths to the darker side of society, the problems that eclipse it, and the prejudices that shackles it. While instilling the good in youths, education also gives them the ability to reject the bad. Learning is healthy, and one can never stop learning,” Mr Asirvatham also said.

Mr Keegan Ang, 22, a Mechanical Engineering student from the National University of Singapore (NUS), says: “It is important to choose what you study based on what you are interested in. If one does not find joy in doing what they do, then there is no purpose in learning.”

“The role of youths is to contribute to society, bring it forward and change it for the better with knowledge and capabilities,” Mr Keegan added.

Written by Hong Jowell for TP Sphere

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