Applications for the Commonwealth Youth Awards 2016 are open until October 31.
I decided to work on ensuring quality education for all because I believe that it can contribute to the overall set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I implemented innovative digital technology methods to improve the quality of education for which I won the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work 2016. Receiving such prestigious recognition for my work gave me the courage and inspiration to extend my institute’s activities. Now H.A. Digital School & College is no longer merely an educational institute. Besides providing formal education it offers free ICT services, entrepreneurship, health training and counselling to rural youth and women.
I have now developed a gender responsive strategy for education, training and entrepreneurship development that responds to rural people’s need. The institute targets marginalised and poor communities which I believe has the immense potential to reduce extreme poverty, improve productivity, employability and uphold environmentally sustainable development. The institute had only 308 students when I applied for the Commonwealth Youth Award last year. Now there are 605 students and 356 young people and women are receiving training.
The publicity generated by the Commonwealth Youth Award put my institute on the map, and it made a huge difference. The award helped me to standardise the quality of my work, provided me the platform to attract collaborations, draw funds and to expand my professional network. After I won the award, I was able to source quite a few digital study materials like tablet PCs and laptops from individual donors and from the Bangladeshi government’s ICT fund. The tremendous support I received from the Commonwealth team has always kept my spirits up. It encouraged me to feel that I could pursue further international recognition. Consequently, I was able to succeed in two very rigorous competitions in the same year – namely the United Nations Young Leader (out of more than 18,000 applicants) and the MOSAIC Leader programme by Prince’s Trust International.
Today, the world is home to the largest generation of young people in history. In order to achieve the SDGs, we must involve today’s youth and catalyse a generation that knows about the Goals, cares about their success and actively works toward their realisation. As a UN young leader and Commonwealth Young Person of the Year, I will support efforts to engage young people both through my existing initiatives and through strategic opportunities with the various UN and Commonwealth platforms and networks. I will advocate the SDG agenda to ensure that it is accessible and relatable to young people.
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