The Role of Youth Centres in Development: enabling youth for development in Qatar

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Submission Summary
The 1980s marked an ideological shift about youth by neoliberalism calling for free possessive individuals against the oppressive state. Neoliberalism abstained from the welfare model of the state as an enhancer of human well-being and an administrator of a command and control economy towards a view that advocates ways to free citizens and the economy from government intervention. The Neoliberal development strategies predicate liberalization, institutional reform and economic performance over physical and social priorities. Subsequently, instead of family, community or social group, people as individuals have to confront and handle threats, risks and opportunities. With the pressures of global economic shocks, budget deficits, global pandemic, and fluctuation of oil and gas revenues, Qatar, as elsewhere in Arab oil producers, is slowly moving towards economic liberalization and diversification. The generous social contract that provides for citizens cannot be sustained and the need for reform is unavoidable. The national 2030 vision calls for building capable citizens and more participation in economic and political decision-making. This can be achieved through quality education and capacity building training as well as participation in a wide variety of cultural and sports activities. In a country where youth represents approximately 50% of its population, youth centres are a key instrument and active interface between youth and the state. It plays a major role in fostering a supportive environment, youth empowerment and strengthening community actions. However, on the ground, these objectives are less clear cut. The study reveals that youth centres face many challenges. While some suffer from inadequate needs assessment and poor training agenda, others suffer from absence facilities, inaccessibility. The study argues that the capacity of youth centres to promote positive youth development is constrained by: the institutional/ administrative structures that are not compatible with the shift towards liberal policies; and the lack of resources/ and facilities. It concludes that despite the futuristic and ambitious vision and policy objectives, the inherited implementation mechanisms should be reformed to reduce bureaucracy and centralization, and allow for a more inclusive process of policy, programme and project making. It also recommends a hybrid approach which combines both remote/virtual and physical interaction to service provision to reach out and appeal to the wider youth community. This approach will be less reliant on dedicated buildings to create centres and facilities (physical infrastructure) in favour of using the existing community facilities that are available within district/ neighbourhood centres.
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1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
Assistant Professor
Qatar University

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