World Bank and Ateneo Launch Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Bulletin
MANILA, Philippines — One of the biggest challenges for our country in the coming years will be its ability to produce the next generation
of leaders who will be able to help propel our nation out of poverty and into lasting development.
Unlike other Asian tiger economies like China and Japan, the Philippines is very blessed to have a very young population wherein majority are aged under 40 years old. In the last elections we have already seen glimpses of the Filipino youth’s impact in our society, and if harnessed and trained properly, these young Filipinos will eventually decide the future of our country.
With these in mind, the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) and the World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Center recently selected more than 50 Filipino young leaders who will take part in the inaugural Youth Leaders for Knowledge and Development program.
In this program, these young leaders, who are either college students or young professionals, will be given the unique chance to interact with accomplished leaders in our country.
During these so called “kapihan” sessions, the young leaders will get the chance to ask questions, raise issues and share insights with the current decision makers of our country.
Among those that are being lined up for them to interact with are Ramon Magsaysay Awardees such as DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and Benjamin Abadiano of Assisi Foundation, as well as successful social entrepreneurs such as Fr. Xavier Alpasa, S.J., founder of Rags2Riches. Through these interactions, the organizers of the program hope that these young Filipino leaders will learn how it is to become effective, ethical and empowering leaders for our country.
Developing good leaders
During the launching of the program held last September 9, 2010 at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Alumni, the World Bank’s Matthew Stephens congratulated the participants for being chosen among the hundreds who applied to be part of the program. Stephens cited the importance of developing good leaders in our country as a means towards making our current government institutions more responsive to the needs of the ordinary Filipinos.
He cited the experience of Naga City, wherein then Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo was able to curb corruption and transform Naga into the premiere city of the Bicol region. Stephens said that if many of our local government leaders were like Robredo, then our country would be able to easily become one of the leading countries in Asia.
To give the keynote address to the participants, the organizers invited another Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca. Padaca exhorted the participants to go out of their way to help promote good governance in our country. She also shared her experience of going against all odds including that of defeating a 40 year old political dynasty just to be able to be of service to her fellow Isabelinos.
For those who may not know, Padaca was a victim of polio at an early age. She continues to need crutches just to be able to walk. During her six years as governor of the second largest province in the country in terms of land area, she shared that she was able to help increase the income of farmers in the province as well as help lead the\ fight to protect the Sierra Madre against illegal loggers.
Padaca also explained to the participants that there is an urgent need for them to continue to support and help good leaders in our country especially those who are currently in government. She shared that without the necessary support, these leaders may eventually be swallowed by the corrupt system and we will only be left with government leaders whose only interest is to enlarge their personal bank accounts.
To cap the event, the ASOG’s Dr. Antonio La Viña shared with the participants the importance of developing new ideas and innovative solutions to solving our current social problems. He cited the growing trend towards the use of technology as well as social networking sites in helping promote greater transparency and accountability in our government. Moreover, he emphasized the ASOG’s continued thrust towards developing a new generation of Filipino leaders who will bring about the necessary reforms that are needed in our country.
The first kapihan sessions for the participants will begin this coming October and will be held at the World Bank’s Knowledge for Development Center in Pasig City.
Harvey S. Keh is director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com .