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November 16, 2023 Centre for Peace and Justice

Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) and BRAC University’s Centre for Peace and Justice recently conducted the ‘Youth Matters Survey’ to understand the aspirations, priorities, and viewpoints of Bangladesh’s youth. The results of this survey were announced at a press conference held at BYLC’s headquarters in Dhaka on Tuesday, November 16. The study, which included 5,609 youth from all over Bangladesh, is intended to provide insights for political parties’ manifesto ahead of the upcoming national elections. BYLC conducts this survey every five years ahead of the national elections.

The study, conducted in all 8 divisions of Bangladesh in September 2023, asked youth about their opinions and perceptions on education, health, livelihoods, climate change, justice, democracy and governance, information, and migration.

The findings reflect an intriguing combination of aspirations and concerns among youth. According to the research, 48.7% of youth are interested in entrepreneurship as a future profession, highlighting the growing entrepreneurial mindset of Bangladesh’s youth.

Improving education is a top priority for youth, with 57.7% mentioning inadequate instructor quality and 44.4% recommending leadership and soft skills training to be incorporated in the curriculum.

Emotional and physical wellness of youth is adversely affected by inflation in commodity prices (61.8%), socio-political-economic conditions (45.1%), and job insecurity (40.2%).

The survey reveals that climate change affects 73.4% of youth, highlighting growing awareness among today’s youth about impacts of the climate crisis.

Regarding governance, 88% of survey respondents underscored corruption as a major barrier to good governance in Bangladesh, while 29.1% said that they are concerned about dwindling democratic rights in Bangladesh.

A significant 42.4% are considering leaving the country, citing socio-economic concerns (75.5%), skill-job mismatch (50.9%), and restricted educational options (42.3%) as reasons.

71.5% of youth stated that they don’t feel safe expressing their opinions publicly, which underscores the need for creating more safe spaces for youth to express their opinions freely. However, 74.2% of respondents said they intend to vote in the next national elections, highlighting youth’s desire to exercise their voting rights and participate in shaping their collective future.

55.3% of respondents stated that Bangladesh lacks peace while 63% of respondents believe that peace has deteriorated in Bangladesh in the last five years.

On the positive side, 85.5% of those who said they would leave the country said that they would return if conditions improved in Bangladesh. Despite all the challenges in the country, 56.8% of respondents said that they are optimistic about Bangladesh’s future.

While speaking at the press conference, BYLC’s founder and executive chairperson Ejaj Ahmad said, “We should not see youth as future leaders, but as current leaders. To ensure meaningful youth participation, we should not only incorporate their viewpoints in our national policies but also provide space for them to exercise leadership in local and national levels, including politics, business and civil sectors.”

CPJ’s director of research Dr. M. Sanjeeb Hossain said, “I am hopeful about the youth because the enthusiasm I have witnessed among them is commendable. They are keen to engage in civic responsibility and participate in building our country.” BYLC’s executive director Tahsinah Ahmed and CPJ’s research associate Tasnia Khandaker also spoke at the program.

Click here to read the survey findings.