Young people learn digital skills for a better future in Bangladesh13 December 2023
In Bangladesh, young people are learning new skills which are transforming lives and creating social and economic change through the creation of new employment opportunities in their community.
The innovative Youth Learning Centre (YLC) welcomes young people aged 15 to 24 from six communities in Nilphamari district through its doors from Saturday to Wednesday, provided them with access to computers and the internet, as well as technical expertise to help them develop their talents and follow their passions.
Ashfy has been attending the centre since it opened in April 2022 and says he now has the skills he needed to start his own food delivery business. “I have always been interested in the food industry but lacked the opportunity to gain any knowledge. At the YLC, I learnt how to run a business. After that, I started my own business from my home with the support of my parents. Now, my business is growing and I am receiving orders from different offices,” he shares.
The YLC is fully equipped with learning equipment, including TVs, computers and dedicated areas for creative brainstorms, as well as spaces to learn traditional handicraft skills. A tool gallery is also available for those learning trades such as carpentry and metalworking.
Skills for a better future
Many of those who come to the centre have dropped out of school early, and see the space as somewhere they can learn the skills needed for them to make a better future for themselves. “I come to YLC to browse the internet and learn computing skills as I don’t have a smartphone, or access to the internet due to lack of money,” says Shoron.
On the day we visit, the brightly painted centre is busy with young people eager to learn, utilise the skills they already have and connect with experts for career advice. “I had some painting and drawing skills but I didn’t know how anything about marketing or how to use my skills to earn an income,” shares Bipul.
“The YLC helped me to create my own online channel. Now, I am increasing my customer base, and have managed to earn 20,000 taka (164 Euro) by making hand painted Punjabi sarees. Now I want to start a YouTube channel to get more order and publicity.”
As we look around the centre, we can see young people engaged in learning computer skills, while others are practicing batik printing, jute making and papercrafts. Another group are learning photography, video editing, and graphic design.
“I had a dream to learn how to operate a computer but I never got the chance,” Meghla tells us. “After enrolling at the YLC, my dream has come true. Now, I know how to work in MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint presentation. The YLC has opened a new door for youths. I feel proud of myself.”
To date, nearly 1,000 young people have passed through the doors of the YLC, or the ‘Door of Thoughts’ as it says on the doorframe. With the continued support of Plan International and our local partner USS, we hope that many more young people will be able to use the centre to grow their skills and develop sustainable income opportunities to achieve financial independence.