2015 thriving time for Youth development

YOUTH involvement in national development goals this year gained royal praise during the 10th National Youth Day celebration with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah, The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, commending the youths on their valiant efforts.

During the event held at the Hassanal Bolkiah Indoor Stadium last September, His Majesty lauded the youths who ventured into the creative industry to those who made the effort as well as those who successfully broke into the international market.

He also praised those who chose to venture into less popular fields such as farming and heavy machinery, just to name a few.

In the past 12 months, a tremendous number of aspiring young leaders and youth groups in the country have stepped up in terms of being involved in civic or community engagement programmes, education, economic development and environment.
Empowering future leaders

Khairunnisa Ash’ari, founder of Green Brunei, was the first Bruneian youth to be awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders Award by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of her leadership in the community. The 27-year-old shared that she was excited to be the first Bruneian ever to receive the prestigious award.

The British High Commission said the award aimed to enable young people to step up as leaders and improve the lives of people across the Commonwealth.

Khairunnisa explained that she spent most of 2015 on youth mentorship and coaching, which also helped develop a name for Green Brunei among local NGOs.

Another youth association, Kitani Foundation, was founded this year by a group of students who have participated in exchange programmes abroad to continue being involved in civic engagement and community services.

One of its founding members, Aainaa Nasyidah from Sekolah Menengah Saiyidina Ali said that the foundation aims at assisting less privileged families in the country and as part of their social contribution to the community.

“Throughout our projects, student volunteers gain awareness about less visible issues such as relative poverty. Youths today should be involved in the betterment of our own community as they will be our future leaders. Therefore, this project serves as a platform for their voluntary work and inspires them to be more involved in the community work,” she said.

Last Ramadhan, the foundation held a charity drive and reached out to more than 10 needy families in Belait and Tutong districts.

The families received basic daily necessities and school supplies.
Capacity building

A number of youth capacity building programmes held throughout the year, namely the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) was able to provide a platform for youths to engage in larger community development processes that benefitted everyone.

The programme which was US President Obama’s signature programme was launched in 2013 to strengthen leadership development and networking in ASEAN.

Iswandy Ahmad, the Alumni Coordinator of YSEALI said, “2015 was a good year for YSEALI. For Brunei alone we had 31 YSEALI members travelling across ASEAN and in the United States for fellowships and workshops.”

Earlier this month, the YSEALI alumni members and Universiti Brunei Darussalam Student Association organised the Young Project Managers (YouPM), aimed to “equip youths with knowledge and experience that can develop them into future leaders”.

Firdaus Ismail, project manager of YouPM, highly believes that youth are the backbone of the country and have a lot of potential to become community leaders and agents of change to achieve the country’s Vision 2035.

“This programme was created because I wanted the YSEALI alumni to share their ideas and experiences, what we learned abroad, with the participants. Nowadays, youths are moving at a very fast pace where they are eager and very passionate about what they want to do to contribute to the positive impact on the country, so I thought this project would be a good platform for them to actually do it,” he said.


Agents of change

Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi Hj Mohd Yusof called on youth to prepare themselves with knowledge and skills in order to carry out their responsibility to initiate and lead change in the socio-economic development of Brunei to achieve the goals of Vision 2035.

He said by adopting the concept of ‘lifelong learning’ will help youths become better individuals.

‘Lifelong learning’ means to equip oneself to face the challenges as opportunities to develop, become sensitive, creative, proactive, interactive and subsequently implement a culture of professionalism.

“The ministry encourages the efforts to empower our youths and to develop themselves as a positive and dynamic generation.

“We have high confidence in the potential of youths in the country to be the driving force of society and agents of change to achieve excellence and success to become effective leaders in the future,” he said.

Erna Sumarne Hj Sumardi, one of the supervising teachers for the student-led Kitani Foundation, sees students gaining confidence and independence in life.

“They are better in team work, being able to relay their messages with clarity. I see the students develop their personality. When we went out to visit families, they learn to be careful and sensitive to people’s situation.

“I am proud to say that this opportunity helps produce more holistic individuals who are not only academically-inclined but also more sympathetic to the plight of others. That is what teachers like us want in the end, which is to produce individuals with strong leadership qualities and compassionate about the plight of everyone,” she added.

The Brunei Times