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Let’s assess role of youth in Kenya’s development

By Sandra Ochola
Tuesday, August 4th, 2020
Launching of Kazi Mtaani programme where over 4,000 youths will be employed in Nyeri for the next six months. Photo/PD/JOSEPH KING’ORI
In summary

The International Youth Week often marks the start of celebrations that usher in the International Youth Day on August 12.

Countries across the world consequently engage in initiatives that advocate for and promote the welfare of young people within and across their boundaries and the year 2020 is not any different. 

Under the theme, ‘Youth engagement for Global Action’ this year’s celebrations will focus on the significance of engaging young people for the benefit of their communities and nations.

Key to this agenda includes learning how their continued involvement in the political space is shaping our global social, economic and cultural outcomes. 

With only ten years left to the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is need to assess the place and role of the youth in rebuilding public trust for the enhancement of global peace and prosperity. 

The youth of today are confronted by a myriad of challenges including conflicts, disease, poverty and unemployment.

These have been exacerbated during this Covid-19 period with many young people staying out of school, losing out on job opportunities and witnessing their families struggle to feed and shelter them. 

Closer home the situation is exacerbated by twin vices of corruption and tribalism. 

Most of young people feel they are unable to advance without paying bribes or having influential godfathers in places of power.

This has led to sense of despair, so that even the bright and capable amongst them lack the confidence to pursue their highest potential.  

The celebrations are, thus, geared towards sending a message of hope to the Kenyan youth.

Various local ministries in charge of youth affairs are already collaborating with private and international agencies to showcase their youth-targeted initiatives.

Their engagement is expected to meet a myriad of objectives, including imparting skills to enable the youth to effectively participate in nation building- something that demands for a sense of inclusion and ownership if one is to productively engage in its realisation. 

Accordingly, young people must feel that they belong and that they have a stake in the furtherance of their country’s ideals.

It is through this that they can then wholesomely employ their skills and talents in the implementation of development blue prints such as the Big 4 Agenda and the Vision 2030. 

Our young people are now, more than ever, exposed to advancements and opportunities at the global level.

Unlike previous generations, their academic and employment prospects are not tied to local events, thereby demanding they are effectively prepared for life as global citizens. 

Existing collaborations with international bodies are already bearing fruits through scholarships and overseas voluntary work systems.

This is, however, not enough when they are unable to find work at home or elsewhere.

The next frontier should be to showcase their homegrown skills through more job opportunities at regional and global level. 

Tied to this is the need for mentorship. Indeed, the intersection between childhood and adulthood can be both an opportunity and a curse.

Who the youth grow up to be is dependent on what they see and learn from in the course of their development.

Yet, plagued by their own historical confronts, it is common for the older generations to pass down negative vices that create cycles of discord, poverty and hopelessness amongst the youth.

As such, it behooves the older generations to break certain traditions and impart values that the youth can emulate for the betterment of their countries and communities. 

The upcoming celebrations are therefore, a refreshing pinnacle to our youth initiatives.

We will witness the brilliant achievements and the progress that our young people have made in spite of the social, political, economic and cultural challenges stark against them.

It will also be a celebration of the continued collaboration between state and non-state actors in the promotion and protection of the rights of the youth in Kenya.t — The writer is an Advocate of the High Court and comments on topical issues

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