Jobless Ghor youth ponder swelling Taliban’s ranks
FEROZKOH (Pajhwok): About 400 educated youth remain unemployed in western Ghor province, warning they would have no choice but to swell the ranks of insurgents or smugglers if their plight is not mitigated.
Unemployment has been the major challenge to Afghan you -- a huge part of the population. The educated youth have suffered the most because of rampant corruption in governmental departments and a fragile economy.
Some of them claim a vast majority of provincial council members, parliamentarians and other bigwigs hire their cronies, but those without connections are left in the lurch.
They hit out at the government for failing to put in place a a meritocratic system, where youth could easily find employment based on their capabilities.
Abdul Rauf, a law graduate from Herat University and resident of Ghor, has been stressed because of joblessness. Speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News, he says most government employees are not professional or qualified.
When vacancies in government departments are announced, he adds, mostly well-connected people are employed. “I have applied to a lot of governmental as well as non-governmental organisations but could not get in, while some of their own staffers 6th graders.”
Rauf even sat an exam for a post in the rural rehabilitation department, but someone else without the required qualifications got the job.
Frustrated by this sorry state of affairs, he reasons: “Our youth may join the insurgents when all doors are slammed on them.”
Gul Ahmad Haidari, an official at the Attorney General Office, admits a majority of employees, who do not have the relevant qualifications, work as attorneys.
Fazl Haq Ehsan, provincial council head, is concerned about growing unemployment. He says it has direct links to corruption and insecurity in the country in general.
“Unemployment has risen sharply. A a person, despite studying for 16 years, does not get employed, will naturally have no choice but to commit crime or join the Taliban.”
Some youngsters say contract-based employment opportunities are available, but a key condition is experience -- something most of them do not have.
Mohammad Qurban, another resident who got a bachelor degree in agriculture from Balkh University, recalls: “After graduation, I worked for the election commission for three months. But currently I don’t have any job.”
Qurban applied for a job in the agriculture and livestock department, but in vain. Majority of the department employees are neither professional nor qualified enough.
As a result, he argues, there has been minuscule tangible development, in the agriculture sector that has the potential to create a lot of jobs.
Palpably disappointed, he blames big shots for hiring their relatives and blue-eyed boys. On the pretext of the experience condition, many talented youth are rejected.
When a fresh graduate applies for a job, the prospective employer says years of experience are needed. The sole breadwinner for his family, Qurban politely hints at resorting to illegal things like smuggling lif the situations remains unchanged.
Juma Khan Bakhtari, acting director of agriculture, admits irregularities in his department -- an issue that has been discussed with higher-ups in Kabul.
Bakhtari acknowledges out of the 40 employees at his department, 23 are non-professional. He links the situation to anomalies in 2000 and 2002 appointments.
Identifying the shortage of qualified staff as a huge concern, he reckons 80 percent of the department personnel need to be professional people. It is the responsibility of the ministry concerned.
Female graduates face similar problems in seeking jobs. Latifa, who got a bachelor degree in social sciences from Kabul University, complains there no employment opportunities for women in Ghor.
She alleges: “A sister of the women affairs director and I appeared in a test for the post of executive director. But I was rejected it because may competitor -- a private university graduate -- had a strong recommendation.”
She believes individuals with strong recommendations could easily get government jobs, while talented and qualified people are ignored.
There is no university in Ghor except an institute of higher education that was established three years ago. Abdul Qayyum Shadab, a lecturer at the institute, says around 450 students, including 40 women, are enrolled. He adds 250 fresh students were admitted this year.
Meanwhile, statistics from the labor and social affairs department show 400 qualified people have been suffering from unemployment in the province.
Director Dr. Gul Ahmad Usmani thinks youth refuse to go to districts to discharge their duties due to security concerns. He suggests the development of basic infrastructure and long-term projects to reduce unemployment.
Ghor civil society groups’ head Khudayar Waqif also said most of appointments were based on nepotism, with qualifications or professionalism accorded little value or important.
“A weak presence of Ghor representatives in the central government is another major problem,” he noted, saying construction projects, if implemented properly, could create job opportunities.
He added Ghor was a less developed province and its educated youth needed special attention from the government.
MoHE spokesman Akhtar Mohammad Ubair acknowledged that 20,000 students graduated from government and private education institutes annually. Most of them faced problems finding jobs.
He said 23,000 students had graduated from government and 8,000 from private higher education institutes in 2014. MoHE is working with relevant organisations on job-generating programmes for the graduates.
The ministry plans to train university students based on contemporary requirements to help them find gainful employment without any fuss.
Currently, 200,000 students are enrolled in 32 government and 82 private higher education institutes across the country. The university entrance test result shows 118,000 of 220,000 candidates found their way to higher and semi-higher institutes.
Last year, 110,000 of 228,000 candidates succeeded in the entrance test. According to a World Bank (WB) report, 180,000 students complete higher education annually but only 60,000 could find jobs.
Most of the remaining 120,000, fail to find gainful employment, are left with no option but travel abroad in quest of work to support their families.
The Afghanistan Labour Association says of the 16 million eligible Afghans, only three million are employed. The rest of 13 million are either jobless or work as daily wagers.
However, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs says only four million people are jobless in the country. Statistics provided by some organisations are incorrect, it insists.
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