“WE NEED TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, WE ASK GOVERNMENT TO DO SOMETHING ON THE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY AND COMPREHENSIVE YOUTH PROGRAMMES IN MALAWI”
We have read with great concern the sentiments by the Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Hon. Enock Chihana over the National Youth Policy in the Nation Newspaper of Monday, June 3, 2013 for the Minister requesting Mzuzu Youth Society to apologise on the petition over the same. We applaud the Mzuzu Watch Society for demanding from Government, who are the main duty bearers for the youth in Malawi.The issue of National Youth Policy in Malawi is long outstanding and makes the programming in the youth sector a nightmare. The government cannot continue doing “hide and seek” on youth matters at various levels.
Interestingly, the government has even gone ahead to start negotiations to send young people to countries like South Korea with no clear policy direction. This clearly demonstrates the government’s inability to make necessary provisions for youth development work in Malawi.
Youth-Net and Counselling (YONECO) would like to add our weight to the petition by Youth Watch Society in Mzuzu on the matters relating to the National Youth Policy and Programmes. YONECO is therefore calling upon government to urgently approve and begin to implement the National Youth Policy which has unfortunately been lying idle in neglect for many years now. Those in youth work are aware that the last policy expired almost 10 years ago. Government should be reminded that both the African Youth Charter and the African Youth Decade (2009 – 2018) Plan of Action provide for the Member States to engage in youth development. Article 12 of the African Youth Charter is about National Youth Policy. The charter reads: Every State Parties shall develop a comprehensive and coherent national youth policy”. Article 12 (i) highlights the needs for a national youth coordinating mechanism to provide a platform as well as serve as a linking agent for youth organizations to participate in youth policy development as well as the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of related programmes. Additionally Article 12 (j) calls upon the members states to develop national programmes of action that are time bound and that are connected to an implementation and evaluation strategy for which indicators shall be outlined. The African Youth Decade, 2009-2018 Plan of Action (DPoA) two key outcomes are (i) increased investment in youth development programmes and activities linked to the assessment of development targets and (ii) resource requirement and mobilization for Youth development at all levels is based on evidence and results. The DPoA therefore has specific pillars which include policy development, coordination and management; programme finance, implementation; advocating for the well-being of youth by having access to education, health facilities and employment; and promoting the cause of the disadvantaged youth.
It is extremely sad that Malawi government continues to neglect the policy environment which is central in all the other pillars. At present, Malawi government has no coherent youth development programme that can be pointed to. Malawian Youth continue to be marginalized at various levels.
In line with this, YONECO gives its full support to the youths, organizations, and various stakeholders that are pushing the government to urgently approve the long overdue National Youth Policy. We are profoundly concerned by the continued negligence and lack of seriousness by the key stakeholders (the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports and youth) in adopting the policy that stands to benefit a lot of Malawian youths.
Assurances to approve and adopt the National Youth Policy have been made on several occasions only to keep the youths of Malawi waiting much longer, but in vain. Unfortunately, the youth’s patience is wearing thing, it is high time the government and all the stakeholders lived to their words. The government is only showing its lack of seriousness and commitment to youths of this country by continuing to give lip service in the youth sector.
We recall vividly, that when Rt. Honorable Khumbo Kachali, now the current Vice President was the minister responsible for youths, he told the nation that the policy was on his table and action was imminent. As usual, the youths waited patiently, only to be fed on lies again. Recently, during a conference in November 2012, the Vice President also assured the nation on the same. When Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda got into government, she also assured the youths that the National Youth Policy was going to be reviewed by the beginning of the year 2013; the youths are still yet to see that coming to fruition.
Currently, it seems, the Minister of Youth Development and Sports is just playing hide and seek on the adoption of the national youth policy. There is nothing really concrete that has been done so far except the very old-same-song of assurances that end up to be nothing but, to say the least, unfathomed limited-truths. We are aware that further consultations were being called and we see this as lack of seriousness on the government’s part. We are aware that these consultations are just meant to show to the youth that there is something happening while the reality is that nothing is happening. We are also aware that the Ministry Officials work tirelessly to ensure that the youth sector is divided to advance their agenda. To this end, we call upon the youth and youth actors in this country to make sure that there are coordinated efforts to move the agenda of the youth development in Malawi.
But the biggest question is: how much does the government or the Ministry of Youth itself or the politicians themselves really care about our youth? If the government cannot approve now a policy that stands to benefit almost half of the Malawi’s population that is largely constituted by the youth; when will it (the government) find it fit to do this? Everyone in this country should be reminded that the future of this country is in the young people today. The way we manage our youths today will be a yard stick as to whether the country develops or not.
As YONECO, an organization whose main focus is empowering the youths clearly feels that the continued absence of the National Youth Policy and National Youth Programme signifies a number of things about our government and the youth. Firstly, our government is not serious about the welfare of the youths, secondly, the government does not care about the youths and finally if the government happen to say they are serious and care about the youths then they just want to use and exploit the youths. We wonder, how can a government be taken serious in implementing programmes about the youth without an adopted clear National Youth Policy?
Therefore YONECO joins other organizations that have strongly challenged the government in strongest terms for its continued delay and lack of seriousness in adopting the National Youth Policy. If the government cares about the youths of this country, let them show it by proper actions not just promises that always turn out to be executive political-lies. We ask the current sitting of the parliament to scrutinize the budget for the youth sector critically. We needed the National Youth Policy yesterday. We need the National Youth Policy and Comprehensive Youth Programme Now
Mac Bain Mkandawire
Space kindly supported by Tilitonse Fund under the Enhancing the Capacity of the Community to demand the Essential Public Services from Duty Bearers.