Academic scholarships are provided by schools based on children's results and apparently, this is the first formal recognition that inspires kids to believe in their academic capacity. Although children are introduced to the idea of recognition from their family members just by doing small things - such as family acknowledgment, school scholarships, and sports awards make a strong ground for the next one. However, this writing is not about children's scholarships or about their stories. It is merely an approach to form collective anticipation of how far a single recognition or a personal achievement of our efforts can lead us as a whole. On top of that, it also aims to build an overall understanding of the aspect of the recognition scenario for Bangladeshi youths and how it can be more effective by applying some strategic actions.
To put this out initially, let's have a look at the definition of an award or recognition. Generally, an award recognizes one's personal achievement. It might be in the form of a certificate, a trophy, or an approved qualification that can be gained after successfully completing a program of activity that normally requires personal commitment over a period of time. Awards can be achieved through spare time activities, often undertaken as part of a youth group, or through voluntary activity engaged in through institutional medium.
Awards are mostly given institutionally or through an organizational medium. However - looking at the records of recognition across Bangladesh from the last 10 years, one gets to see an emerging culture of recognizing young people in various ways from several organizations for their significant initiatives, contributions, and efforts. In addition to the personal satisfaction of achieving an Award, youth awards testify to learning, skills, and experiences gained outside of a formal educational setting which is highly valued by employers, colleges, and universities. Adding these to the qualifications gained through formal education provides a more complete picture of a young person and can significantly boost prospects for several progressions.
To put forth the worldwide youth award mechanism and bring the discussion to the table of Bangladesh, let's keep it precise and relevant as much as possible. To name some reputed awards for young people, we can mention the awards and accolades such as the Forbes 30 under 30, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognition, Global youth Awards, Diana Award, Y20 Awards, UN SDG Award, Commonwealth Youth Awards, Queen Elizabeth Young Leaders Award, and some reputed fellowships given to the highly acclaimed young leaders of the world through Obama Young Leaders Program, Ashoka Fellowship, Asia Foundation Fellowship, LeadNext Global Ambassadors - to name a few. It has not been many years since these awards and fellowship programs have been initiated to recognize the efforts of young people worldwide for their innovation and initiatives. Over the course of time, these awards have become the epitome of recognition for young people and their unique projects. Nowadays, young people are highly interested and competitive to win these awards as these recognitions help them to reach a new level in terms of representing their projects in front of the world. They get a high amount of accessibility to media, government and non-government organizations, invitations to attend world youth forums and events, mentorship, funding opportunities including study scholarships, and many more. For the last few years, Bangladeshi youths have started making it to these reputed lists of awardees and recognition. Very successfully, these top tiers of Bangladesh have sharpened their capacity and could liberate their work areas extensively beyond Bangladesh. Bringing it to the discussion table when it comes to Bangladesh, however, the question arises: "Do we recognize our young people nationally?" The answer is clearly yes. Over the period of time, an exclusive pool of recognition and awards for the country's youth has been established - such as the Joy Bangla Youth Award, Sheikh Hasina Youth Volunteer Award, Bangabandhu Global Youth Leadership Award, Dhrubotara Youth Award, UN Women Volunteer Award; alongside some feature programs both in print and mainstream media including ATN Young Nite, Channel I digital Media Award, Star Youth, Young Boss, etc. Likewise, these awards do provide opportunities for the young winners to represent their projects to the whole country.
Now that the exciting recognition pool worldwide and Bangladesh's take in this context has been discussed in this article, it is important to ask about the fundamental peak point of this whole scenario - How does one measure the impact of these young people's initiatives and innovation? To be more specific, how does one keep a track of their projects after these fancy recognitions?
Well, it seems that no particular answer exists yet for this question. A system of monitoring the impact of these recognitions brought to these innovations and persons to make their projects more effective, seems yet to be established. To make an open point for the readers here, it has been tried to find several ways through which one could see these amazing Bangladeshi young people have utilized the opportunity to take their enterprise and nonprofit, initiatives to an effective and available stage after their recognition. The winners' data (although there is no official data) was also followed to look for a detailed stage of their project conditions after they have been awarded. Some of them are still in the same position whereas very few of them have gained little. A big portion of them is struggling to implement their next stage due to the absence of a proper mentoring process. Unfortunately, there have been winning names that do not even exist now but once were awarded. Such a situation raises a few more intensive questions, including - "Do we have a proper selection process for providing awards?" "Have we been able to avoid gender bias while selecting the number of awardees?" Last but not the least, "How to establish a system to monitor the work of the honorees?" As of now, it was not possible to find proper answer to all these questions until one can find one of the key components that proved to be a treasure of these queries. A 'Structured System' could avoid all of these issues that create a system loss for a lot of young people who can bring an arch of change in our society. It is high time that one should follow a process starting from selecting an awardee to monitor and mentor them alongside their initiatives to go further. They must be guided by regular monitoring and evaluation processes, implementation measures, and proper representation of the projects. Also, awarding young people for their unique contribution without applying for it may be introduced, because in the end - 'An award is given not asked'. Alongside that, the winners may be provided internships, and organizational opportunities with their projects to gain hands-on experience. Both government and non-government organizations can increase the ratio of existing incubation programs through which they will have a deeper understanding to run their projects. As mentioned in the initial part of this article - it is both a critical analysis of the existing situation and a suggestive approach to imply the strategic actions to establish a proper mechanism, to recognize Bangladeshi young people's passion projects.
Abdus Sabur is a Youth Development Practitioner and Independent Researcher and Md Masud Parvez is a Youth Development Activist and SDG Facilitator.
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