In April 2021, following the country's 50th anniversary of independence, the Youth Policy Forum (YPF) launched a unique initiative with an inspiring vision for a better Bangladesh.
The vision was to start a Fellowship programme to bring together the brightest and most knowledgeable Bangladeshi professionals and academics working at home and abroad as 'YPF Fellows' to connect them with our promising policy learners.
Over the past year and a half, the Fellowship programme has been one of YPF's most powerful propositions to date - uniting and creating a talent pool which can be harnessed in a never done before way. As a platform, it has a huge potential waiting to be unleashed.
The Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is slowly but steadily turning into a household name for the young policy and development enthusiasts of the country. The platform that started in 2018 as a policy discourse group on popular social media Facebook has now expanded to a full-fledged policy-learning and advocacy platform, hosting 160 webinars on multiple issues, one national conference to upgrade the economy, and establishing nine policy networks and four specialised ones.
The platform has also arranged for the youth to be in touch with real-life politicians and policymakers by conducting government apprentice programmes. However, the fellowship programme particularly stands out as it showcases the YPF's farsightedness and dynamicity.
Similar fellowship programme has proven to be quite effective for some of our neighbouring emerging economies.
The programme intended to create a symbiotic environment, where the youth had an immense learning opportunity to be mentored by some of the bests in their respective fields while the Fellows contributed to the development of the country through their ideas, research, guidance, advisory or just by helping the country in building a conscientious and educated future generation.
Foreign nationals whose research or work focuses on Bangladesh's development journey significantly were also invited to be a part of this initiative.
The YPF fellowship programme started with 100 fellows in 12 key policy areas such as Education, Economy and Jobs, Environment and Climate Change, Foreign Policy, Gender & Inclusion, Healthcare, Energy and Infrastructure, Law, Rights & Justice, Technology & Big Data, Civil Servants, Journalism, Grassroots, Local Development Initiative.
We often get asked about the necessity of the programme or where the inception of the idea lies, but the answer is a simple yet meaningful one. YPF is a platform largely driven and managed by the youth. The majority of our core members are students at the university level who are highly motivated, energetic and passionate about the work they do.
But they also require a lot of guidance and counsel in their activities and efforts and this is where our Fellows fit into the bigger picture. Our Fellows support and direct us with regards to respective policy networks and teams carrying out research, documentation and creating a dialogue within the relevant scope.
Fellows also facilitate and deliver capacity-building sessions for the YPF core team and guide teams consisting of young students and professionals willing to do ground-breaking work. Our Fellows have helped us from the very basics of idea generation to moderation and participation in webinars/dialogues on current affairs, and review of policy briefs prepared by our envoys.
Our Fellows have broadened our network, introduced us to relevant connections or organizations to further our efforts and above all have been there for us not only on a professional level but even at a personal level. It is truly a special platform and the bond that we have built over time with our Fellows is even more special.
As our organisation grew rapidly and garnered the attention and admiration of the public, practitioners and academicians around the world, we felt the need to broaden our network of intellectuals and decided that it is an appropriate time to welcome new Fellows to support our vision of a Bangladesh better served. To meet that goal, we are currently inviting applications for new Fellows to join our amazing team.
While YPF continues to be the facilitator between our knowledgeable Fellows and a bunch of young policy enthusiasts, it provides suitable candidates with a wonderful opportunity to contribute to a dynamic organisation and work on various policy issues to properly equip the country on both the global and internal fronts to meet, deal with, and tackle new and gradually evolving challenges.
Anyone who has work experience of more than five years in any of the policy areas mentioned above (or any relevant field) or holds a Doctoral degree can apply to be a fellow. Anyone with more than 15 years of work experience (or a PhD+10 year of work experience) can apply to be a senior fellow.
YPF has been able to create strong goodwill and accumulate formidable levels of resources along with influence in a very short time. As a Fellow, you will have the chance to tap into our resources and access a cross-disciplinary network of experts, professionals and students as well as YPF's current Fellows.
As a Fellow, you will be in a position to shape innovative and effective work carried out by groups of bright young students and/or professionals who will be working with academics, CSOs, businesses, NGOs, politicians, policymakers, and government bodies. By doing so, you will be able to nurture talented protégées who, in turn, will be able to make significant contributions on the global stage.
Above all, it is an opportunity to be part of something bigger, something that has a lot of probabilities and to work with people who truly care about taking the country above and beyond.
Farah Naz Aditi is the Head of Fellowship at YPF
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.