The Metropolitan Youth Development Agency (MYDA) was established four months ago to bring focus to youth, who make up 34 percent of Ulaanbaatar’s population, and help them deal with their problems.
Head of MYDA S.Sukh-Ochir was interviewed to find out if the agency has made strides to support employment of young people, and improve their health education, as promised when the agency was opened.
MYDA was founded as a form of investment toward young people, who are vital to the future of Mongolia. What have you accomplished so far?
MYDA was established in 2016 in accordance with the Government Resolution No.8 and Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s A 825 directive. Until now, there wasn’t a government organization that manages youth development issues. This puts a tremendous amount of responsibility on our shoulders. We planned measures for young people all over Mongolia, not just for those living in Ulaanbaatar.
Our first project is “Ikh Khotiin Soyol”, which features 24 series of 40-minute videos that will change attitudes of youngsters and help them develop a correct city lifestyle and culture. We’ve planned more than 40 measures for 2017, which we will carry out on different months this year. We’ve been drafting a policy for young people in Ulaanbaatar since December 2016. In other words, our staff is working hard to have a youth development program approved. The main objective of the program is to nurture creative, positive, proactive, well-mannered, helpful and responsible young people who contribute to society.
The places where young people can hang out and spend their leisure time is very limited in Ulaanbaatar. Are you doing anything to resolve this issue?
As the economy is in a bad shape, we’re trying to spend the minimum amount of funds on our projects to save on the (city) budget. One of the main targets in the 2016-2020 Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s Action Plan is infrastructure issues for creating new places where young people can spend quality and productive leisure time. Within the framework of this target, government and nongovernment organizations operating in the capital will cooperate with the private sector.
We started surveying two districts to determine if it’s possible to build a youth development park as part of a project aimed to improve infrastructure in ger areas. In particular, we’re hoping to create favorable conditions for sports during the winter and planting trees by building a youth development park at the National Garden Park.
MYDA is also working to establish a youth center. This will enable youngsters to meet new people, exchange experience with them, and spend their free time more productively. We must do whatever we can with the resources we already have rather than building new facilities with excessive spending of funds from the city or state budget. Young people might learn something from this and if they do, it will become a form of investment to their knowledge, intelligence, and attitude.
Several organizations dedicated to helping young adults become productive members of society have agreed to launch five to seven hobby clubs in 2017. Basically, our MYDA is opening a place where young people with the same interests, such as hard rock music or metal can gather. We welcome any group of people passionate about anything.
You mentioned surveying two districts for building youth development parks. Exactly which two districts are you surveying? Can you share details about this project?
This matter hasn’t been finalized yet. Basketball and football courts, as well as parks, are built in the middle of cities and buildings in other countries. It gives a nice impression of being in the middle of a forest without having to actually leave the city. We’re looking at ways to bring this kind of scenery to Ulaanbaatar, which needs to be suitable for Mongolia’s climate and special conditions. We’re still researching this at the moment. We will involve mainly young people when we build the park.
Most children are spending the majority of their time at PC gaming centers, bringing about negative influence in society. How do you plan to stop children from going to gaming centers?
This year, MYDA is going to organize workshops and seminars aimed to prevent children and young adults from developing bad habits, becoming involved in crimes, and going on the wrong path. I’ve contrived several measures and activities for not only stopping children from getting addicted to PC games but from getting hooked to dangerous and harmful addiction, which could distance them from human interactions.
MYDA is preparing a room equipped with 10 computers at the agency in an attempt to start a small IT business with people who play PC games. In addition, we’re developing directives for limiting a child’s stay at gaming centers to three hours a day.
…Don’t wait for an opportunity, find it yourself and seize it when you do. We all need to be positive to be able to become the real owners of our city and develop it further – treat the city like it’s our home!…
It seems that drug use among young adults is increasing lately. Is there a way to prevent them from taking drugs?
The issue of drugs has been put together with “toxic habits” in the 2017 plan. MYDA will work with the General Police Department, Ulaanbaatar Police Department, and district police departments to get the exact number on this criminal offense. Based on our findings, we will determine a strategy for combating drug use and launch an anti-drugs campaign.
One of the 24 series of “Ikh Khotiin Soyol” is about why people use drugs and ways to stop them. We must fundamentally study why young people indulge in drugs. It’s important to thoroughly research first if we want to find a solution to this issue.
The gap between urban and rural settlements was very big in the 1970s. Now, nearly half the population of Mongolia lives in the capital. Some people say the city is being heavily influenced by rural cultures. What has MYDA planned for educating young people and setting them on the right path?
It requires time to change a trend that has already set in. The media plays a huge role in fixing something that has been kept for many years. There’s a set of rules and laws city residents have to follow regarding sanitation and hygiene. A program will be produced for raising awareness about these laws and helping people adjust to city life and rules.
Have you conducted a survey on unemployed young people? What are you doing to help these people find jobs and get stable income?
The Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s Action Plan specifies to ensure that each household has at least one person with a job. Through a survey on labor issues of young people, we found that a group of people choose to stay unemployed because they’re unsatisfied with the job they get while another group can’t find jobs in line with their profession. We’re going to organize two career fairs so that we can promote youth employment. In particular, a job fair for young people with no work experience will be held in May. The fair is for people who just graduated and have no work experience and those who recently finished vocational education and training schools. Most jobs require work experience. Therefore, we will focus on supporting people who lack experience.
In fall, a career fair will be organized for young people who have work experience and those who graduated abroad. We also plan to give advice to high school seniors. We will raise one of their concerns and give them the correct understanding on whether they need to enter a university.
At present, there are 205,000 students studying in university and college in Ulaanbaatar. It’ll be hard for most of them to find jobs after graduating. Instead of chasing after a diploma, they should be trying to get a trade apprenticeship and not allow foreigners to take up this huge job opportunity.
Moreover, we’ll support young people who want to introduce a new product to the market.
There are young people living with disabilities. What do you plan to do for them?
To promote employment of young adults living with disabilities, MYDA is encouraging them to start doing intellectual jobs aside from engaging in arts and craft production. There’s an article in the Labor Law that states that public and private organizations with more than 25 employees must employ at least one person living with a disability. State agencies operating in Ulaanbaatar are calling on the Mayor’s Office to strengthen the implementation of that regulation.
How efficiently does the MYDA use social media?
There are 700,000 active Facebook users in Mongolia. Hence, we share our plans and measures through social media. We will spread positive solutions for various issues through the internet as well.
We will make a program on the proper way to use the internet and digital world. We’re striving to run a training workshop with media organizations about how to distribute correct information through the internet.
Is there anything you’d like to tell young people?
Our agency is open for all of you. If there’s a problem, don’t hesitate to contact us because we’ll always be ready for anything. Don’t wait for an opportunity, find it yourself and seize it when you do. We all need to be positive to be able to become the real owners of our city and develop it further – treat the city like it’s our home!