There’s not a lot of students taking political science in Oman. In fact, for third year Sultan Qaboos University student Ethar, she can count her classmates with her fingers.
Of the nearly ten classmates she has, they all have different specialisations. Only two or three of them are eyeing working for Oman’s Embassy and are willing to be assigned abroad.
Ethar blushes every time someone teases her that if she does become an ambassador, she’d be one of the first women ambassador’s Oman has produced. To her, that future is still too far away. She recognises that it will require a lot of work, but she’s willing to put in the hours and study so she will get there.
“I’d been exposed early on to the world of politics. Not necessarily just within Oman but what’s going on in the world. Every day, we go to class and dissect political situations. The discussions fuel my passion and I believe it is something I can do quite exceptionally well,” she said.
Ethar is no different from Journalism students Omaima and Ruqaya al Kindi who believe they make a difference.
“Information is very powerful. I want to be able to write about things that bring change to the community,” Ruqaya shared.
“Thankfully, I have my parents support. The advantage of today’s youth is that almost all parents now are aware of the value of education. As young people, we recognise that together, as a collective, we can be a force of change and development,” she said.
“The youth of Oman today are very different. We have become more technologically savvy. We have technology and education that aid us properly well towards achieving our goal. It would be easier for us to work towards our dreams, but our generation also comes with our own unique sets of challenges,” Omaima shared.
Celebrating the youth
Alena Dique is one of Oman’s youth leaders who is trying her best to make a change to the community through youth effort. She has gained international exposure and knowledge about mobilising communities through her works and coordination with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD). She is currently one of the people working behind the scene to put the youth of Oman on the spotlight and encourage them to be a power of social change.
One of Alena and her co-leaders’ initiatives is to create awareness about the United Nations International Youth Day (IYD) which takes place every August 12.
IYD is a UN initiative that aims not only to protect the youth but to “include them in the development of communities around the world, whether they’re rich or poor.”
“The theme of International Youth Day 2019 is ‘Transforming education’ which highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves,” the UNCTAD Manifesto explained
“Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it was created to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
Alena and her co-youth leaders are in agreement that “Education is a ‘development multiplier’ in that it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals — be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or building peaceful societies.”
They are also of the belief that “Education should lead to effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula and pedagogy being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work and life but also for the opportunities and challenges that rapidly changing social contexts bring.”
“Youth engagement is essential to the transformation of education into a means for inclusive youth development and sustainable development more broadly. International Youth Month highlights the good practices and lessons learned in the efforts undertaken to ensure that education is relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth,” Alena’s group shared.
While IYD was supposedly celebrated for just one day, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms Jayathma Wickramanayake, on August 1 declared that since “it’s impossible to celebrate the world’s biggest population in just one day, let’s make #August as the month of youth!”
What the youth leaders think
Oman’s youth representatives have been working together to transform education and make the sector more relevant, equitable and sustainable through inclusive education practices. Governments, educational institutions and other stakeholders in Oman are dedicated to creating education policies and developing complementary training programs.
Here is what the youth leaders of Oman have to say:
“The crucial role that quality education plays in youth development is well recognized globally. In addition, comprehensive youth development benefits society-at-large. However, what is less known is the fact that young people themselves are active champions of inclusive and accessible education.” Alena Dique, UNCTAD Youth Oman
“Education is the backbone to any country’s development and prosperity. Educating the youth makes the country’s development a reality.”
Ali Al Rahma, Board Member OABC & Founder of One Oman
“If you honour the environment, the environment will honour you back”, Fahad Murshid Alabri,
Founder of Move Green
“It’s apparent to see that we are experiencing a shift in our way of life towards a more sustainable future. In order to achieve this, we have to redesign our way of thinking and transform our education practices. It is the only way we can ensure an equitable future for the generations after us.”
Maha Al Kharusi, Global Shaper Oman
“Determination, persistence & thinking outside the box are my 3 keys to achieving the impossible.”
Badar H. Al Lawati, 1st place winner of the 2018 #Campus1871 Student Entrepreneurship Competition