Throughout August we're shining the spotlight on our youth work, and in-particular, our youth focused day at our centenary conference which takes place from the 26-28 November

Here Ahsan Ali Thakur, Chair of the ICA’s Asia & Pacific Region Youth Network, shares his thoughts on why co-operative education is important and what the co-operative movement can do to make itself more relevant to young people.

Why do you think co-operative education is important?

Cooperatives offer a model that is both business and people centric. There is no better model, in my opinion, that exists. It’s the only model that encourages both democracy and community to prosper whilst also providing an economic benefit to its members, city, country and region.

It's important to increase our efforts for cooperative education which will ideally bring the economic sustainability and peace in our various communities and cities. 

What do you think the co-operative movement can do to make itself more relevant to young people?

One of the things I have observed in my years working as a cooperator is that there is and always has been a generation gap in which each generation does not understand or speak in the tone which is recognisable to the younger generation.

These hurdles could be removed by having a group session with the community, focusing on providing the information in a manner that young people can easily understand in terms of both language and tone.

Secondly, there may well be a misconception that achieving a great cooperative movement in a few months or a year is easily done, when in actual fact it's only possible when both the vision and ideas of all members are aligned.

Patience is a virtue which generates better results in the long run. It's here where the society and the cooperative community steps in to provide a guiding hand to direct how a task and goals need to be accomplished.

What do you think are some of the biggest issues facing young people today

There are a number of issues facing young people today including scarcity of food & water, lack of education and employment opportunities and climate change. It is this latter issue that will undoubtedly have a significant impact on both this generation and those to come. 

What solutions do you think co-operation can provide to these issues?

Co-operatives can bring different groups of people together to solve major problems. In terms of scarcity of both food and water, a community can be mobilised to solve their own problems, empowered with the skills and knowledge to do things for themselves. This could include gaining the knowledge to grow their own crops, working with international partners to bring their food to market, or opening their own shops

Education is crucial to achieving this, with skilled community members able to contribute more fully, transforming not only their own lives but also their communities. Finally, climate change is ultimately a matter that involves everyone, with a number of examples of co-operative solutions, such as The Go Green Campaign. This project encourages the planting of planting trees on a volunteer Basis, with the ICA – Asia and Pacific Committee on Youth Cooperation (ICYC) heavily involved.

Co-operation is not just a business model - it's a way of life for the betterment of a community and its people.

“People make a community and community makes the cooperative”

What excites you most about being part of our conference?

The most exciting part is being part of a co-operative institute that is celebrating its century. As a well know organisation that spreads the message of cooperative education across the world, the networking opportunities and chance to meet and hear from sector leading experts are fantastic.

Ahsan will speaking as part of an action packed first day at our Centenary Conference and Gala Dinner, taking place at Rochdale's iconic town hall from the 26-28 November. There are still a limited number of £100 tickets remaining, with more information available via the button below.

See more about our centenary conference