Afghanistan's young people are critical to building a more cohesive society and a stronger, rejuvenated economy
Spin Rawan Nawruzi, editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper in the southeastern Khost province, told an audience of students at an IWPR debate that young people remained an untapped resource essential to Afghanistan’s future security and prosperity.
In 2008, the United Nations Development Programme estimated that 68 per cent of Afghans were under the age of 25. Today, that percentage is likely to have decreased only slightly, due to a marginal rise in life expectancy and a decline in birth rates.
"In my opinion, our youth should be given a larger role in rebuilding the country," Nawruzi told the April 30 debate.
"Young people make up a large part of the country's workforce and energy,” he said. “Factional, ethnic and regional differences can prove harmful; it's better to rely on the younger generation's knowledge and education."
The IWPR debate took place at the privately-run Ghazi Amanullah Khan University in Khost city.
Addressing the debate, Nur Ahmad Nur, the dean of the university, agreed that the next president had to ensure that the country's young people were given top priority.
He said education and training could help establish the foundation on which a new, invigorated nation could be built
"Once young people are given proper direction, a sound education, and opportunities to work as part of the state, then I am confident that major problems will be solved," Nur said.
Audience member Qudrat Shah said Karzai's successor – likely to be either Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who are due to fight a run-off election in late May – must govern by example.
"I have many hopes, but I want the future president first to ensure security and then to eliminate corruption," he said.
Azizullah, another participant, added, "Work [within the new administration] should be given to those with expertise. Security should be ensured and young people should be provided with job opportunities."
Mohammad Adel is a university student in Khost and an IWPR trainee.
This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.