Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity: Malaysian teens speak out about taking action
KUALA LUMPUR, 8 September 2011 – Six Malaysian teen panelists from all walks of life sat down with five adult panelists to talk about their hopes and dreams, and what they’re doing to make them happen. This Inter-generational Dialogue took place at the launch of UNICEF’s 2011 flagship report The State of the World’s Children (SOWC) titled “Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity”.
Officiated by YB Senator Dato’ Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, the launch also gave adolescents and young people nationwide the opportunity to have their voices heard through a Youth Tweetchat that ran simultaneously with the live dialogue. Youth bloggers also participated in the conversation through posts leading up to the launch.
“As a youth who is slowly moving to adulthood, I feel more and more responsible for the actions I make,” said adolescent spokesperson Ms Alayna Rani Sreenivas of the Petaling Jaya Child Council. “It is our right to participate in the betterment of our country and our world but how many youth today are actually empowered to solve the problems in the world today? They are after all, 1.2 billion of the world’s population – that’s a lot of ideas to be missing out on.”
Ms Alayna’s strong view on adolescent participation was also shared by the six teen panelists – Mr Faezlan bin Angah, Department of Orang Asli Development Malaysia; Mr Hazrul Syafiq, The Asian Football Confederation; Mr Jayasaminth Savinder Singh, Special Olympics; Ms Noor Diyana Sharifudin and Ms Qistina Danisyah, KL Krash Pad; and Ms Sofia Ong Yin-Mei, PJ Child Council.
Faciliated by Mr Chris Ng, the panel also comprised of the following adults – YB Senator Dato’ Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil; Mr Hans Olsen, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia; Mrs Hanim bt Hassan, social worker; Mr Muhammad Zarif, President of Parent Teacher Association of Assunta Primary School Petaling Jaya; and Mrs Anant Kaur Hardyal Singh, Senior Assistant of Pupil Affairs of the same school.
“Investing in adolescents is a wise move and it is the right move, also in Malaysia,” urged Mr Olsen in his opening address. “With our partners, we are ready to make that investment and seize the opportunity that cannot, and should not, be missed.”
According to SOWC 2011, the country’s net secondary school enrolment ratio is 66% for boys and 70% for girls for 2005 to 2009; a cause for concern as it suggests that a large number of young people are being left behind, unable to profit from and contribute to the country’s progress. Besides education, the report also highlights the challenges and opportunities linked to adolescent health, protection and participation, as well as action taken by UNICEF in partnership with different governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Ten NGOs were also represented at the Market Place, where the public could find out more about each organisation’s efforts in advancing adolescent rights, development and participation in the country.
NOTE TO EDITOR:
The State of the World’s Children is UNICEF’s annual flagship report. It is the most comprehensive survey of global trends affecting children and provides the most thorough almanac of up-to-date statistical data on children. SOWC is referred globally by governments, NGOs, and academic institutions as the authority on childhood. It is widely used by UNICEF to mobilise support from all sectors to advance the rights of children to survival, development and protection. This year’s report titled “Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity” underscores adolescence as an age of opportunity for children, and a pivotal time for us to build on children's development in the first decade of life, to help them navigate risks, and to set them on the path to fulfilling their potential.