Sunday, August 12, 2007


A friend of mine once went for a programme where he happened to be the youngest participant, all the others were adults. After the first phase of the workshop, the facilitator asked if anyone had any comment or questions. My friend raised his hand but to his embarrassment, he was asked to put his hand down. “You are young, what do you know?” the facilitator asked laughably.

Is the syndrome of “young people should be seen and not heard” still in existence in this generation? Young people have valuable contributions to make to our society and must be given a voice that should be respected and incorporated into policies that affect the youths. In words of Kofi Anan, the former UN Secretary-General, a society that cuts itself from its youth serves its lifeline, but a society that engages their interest, enlists their talents and librates their energies bring hope to the entire world.

To be able to act effectively, young people need to be more sensitive to their environment and actively participate in activities that would develop their skills. Perhaps, if only the facilitator earlier mentioned had known that young people know a lot of things, he would not have restricted the young participant from sharing his views.

To let the youths be heard, we must not stop at only recognizing their freedom of speech or expression; it also includes giving them opportunities to participate in decision-making processes that affect them at all levels- home, school, government etc. and creating the forum, trust and responsibility to take action as a way of expressing their passion and dream for the future. Some youths who engage in frivolous activities such as internet scam, aristo and other delinquency do just that because they have nothing else they can engage their time fruitfully.

So much work still needs to be done in re-orientating our youths. The introduction of youth development ministry is a good way of starting up; having a youth development fund is a bonus that must be applauded. However, real action needs to be taken! Our education system needs to be refurbished, young people need to be given more opportunities to grow and have reasons to trust the government and the society they live in...

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