Inclusivity is a top area of concern for the young, says National Youth Council

Youths want society to look beyond identity categories like race and social class, according to an interim report on the conversation. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Inclusivity has emerged as the top issue that young Singaporeans are concerned about, according to an ongoing conversation to engage them on national issues led by the National Youth Council.

Youths want society to look beyond identity categories like race and social class, and they value the opportunity to be exposed to varying perspectives, including those that may be uncomfortable to them, said an interim report on the conversation.

They also want the definition of success to be broadened, so as to cater to people with diff erent aspirations and ambitions.

These were the preliminary findings that emerged in the first phase of the Youth Conversations engagement exercise, based on more than 1,400 online survey responses from participants aged between 15 and 35, collected in April and May.

Launched by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), the Youth Conversations dialogue series aims to inform the young about important national issues, and help them work out differences in opinions by listening to one another, negotiating and finding solutions together, and with the Government.

Other widely-held concerns from the survey include the environment and sustainability, the future leadership of the country, economic opportunities, the cost of living, mental health, and marriage and parenthood.

Since the conclusion of the online survey, 10 face-to-face dialogues involving about 50 youth participants each have been conducted, based on the top themes that emerged during the survey.

Inclusivity, the top concern in the survey phase, was also the topic that garnered the most sign-ups in the face-to-face sessions, with more than 300 registering for dialogues planned between June and August.

Taking in views from both online and offline channels is a way of ensuring that the discussions reflect the views of a broader spectrum of society, said National Youth Council chief executive David Chua, whose agency is spearheading the dialogues.

"We didn't want to enter an echo chamber, and wanted people to know that there is a range of diverse positions on a topic. Discussions can then help to forge a more cohesive social compact," he told reporters on Saturday (Jul 28).

A fuller report on the outcomes of these conversations will be released after a year. The conversations will continue to run for two to three years.

Teacher Daphne Li, 32, who attended the a conversation on how Singapore can move towards becoming a zero-waste society, said that it was helpful to have representatives from both the Government and the private sector engaging participants during the session she was at.

"(But) talk is cheap, and it'll be good to know if any concrete action came out of the dialogue based on suggestions that were offered," she said.

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