International Youth Day: Inspiring Cambodia's next generation
Presenter/researcher for Loy9 TV, Cambodia
66% of Cambodia's population of 14 million are under 30.
International Youth Day is right around the corner, so I'd like to look at the situation of young people in Cambodia and the impact we could have if we all could just find out a way to get involved.
Throughout my life in Cambodia, never once did I realise that my country has the youngest population in Southeast Asia, with about 66% of the population of 14 million under 30.
Despite the huge youth population, the level of civic engagement of young people here in Cambodia is really low. Most young people – and most of my friends – have very little knowledge of simple civic facts, such as what the parliament or the local government is, and they have little experience of participating in life outside home and school.
They either don't have access to that kind of information or they just don’t care. In the end it all comes down to the fact that we don’t think it's important enough.
On the contrary, youth participation is extremely important, especially in a country with as many young people as ours. Let's say 66% of the Cambodian population don't go out there and get involved in their community and make something of themselves – where would we be five years from now?
Those 8.5 million young people are our country's main human resource. In a few years, we'll become the leaders and the brains of Cambodia.
The next step is to get this message across to all of Cambodia's young people. And that is where our project called Loy9 comes in.
I am a presenter on Loy9 which combines a TV magazine show, a radio phone-in program, online content and live events where we go to meet young people in different provinces and get them involved.
In Loy9 we cover topics such as the simple ways youth can participate in their community and what the local government is and what it does. In the months ahead we are going to talk about the idea of democracy and the role of the Cambodian parliament.
The first series of the TV show was a big success and had about 2.5 million viewers per week. We are now in production for the second series. With the popularity of the campaign still increasing, we are able to reach more people and spread the word regarding the significance of civic engagement.
And this weekend Loy9's radio and online teams will be featuring guest speakers and bloggers from the International Youth Day organisers in Phnom Penh to encourage young people to participate.
I believe I share the same dream as all of our Loy9 teams here. We hope that by the end of this project we can take a stroll down the street and ask any young person about basic civic facts or how they participate in public life and they will make us proud.
That is the kind of future for Cambodia that we envision and we are working hard to achieve. Come on, guys, let's go out there and start getting involved. Happy International Youth Day!
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