We have gotten into the last quarter of 2021 and this means three quarters of the year are gone. One should begin to take stock of what has been achieved in the last nine months. What have we achieved? Is our achievement in tandem with our plans? We are all aware that we have issues of COVID-19 affecting or derailing our plans. However, we need to be quite serious. As we begin the new month, there are several things that we need to address considering that Malawi continues to trail behind if what the recent UN Human Development Report is to go by.
We are still struggling in abject poverty, hunger, good health, quality education among others. We cannot even provide decent work and our minimum wage for the common Malawian is far below the monthly surviving basket. If we go to the schools, we still have children learning under trees, inadequate learning and teaching facilities and high teacher pupil ratio. May be its high time we continue to ask ourselves: Where did we get it wrong. What is worrying is that there is a lot of talk about change and yet so little of that change is visible that one would ask the question why bother at all on the same.
There has been a number of issues that happen at political level that we would not like it to slip off the debate. During the 19th graduation ceremony at the Catholic University of Malawi, the President of the Republic of Malawi advised the fresh graduates to go and create jobs. The remarks and comments that were made on this were that the president was insensitive to the issue because the government promised 1 million jobs.
There have been calls to reduce the retirement age. Well, we need to start being honest with ourselves. It would be good if someone in statistics or information do a proper analysis. How many universities are in Malawi? How many young people will be expected to graduate from these universities every year? How many jobs do we have in the public sector? If we retire, all the people who are holding positions today, will all the graduates leaving the university be absorbed in the government departments?
These are the questions that we need to be discussing as a country and not moving with what we could call a “political or campaign rhetoric” which also questions our entire campaign agenda and how we get deceived as Malawians. May be its high time we needed to ask our leaders to be honest and realistic in their quest for leadership during debate and discussions that are held during the campaign period.
One other critical element that we may also want government to discuss and engage in is “what policies should be put in place to enable the graduates to create jobs”. This should start with the kind of education we are giving to our young people and also how that education relates to the development agenda of the nation. We also need policies that will allow businesses to flourish as we move. We can only do these things if we are honest. As Malawians, let us begin to provide solutions to the problems we face. In our view, Malawi does not have enough jobs and this is quite clear and there is both unemployment and underemployment. However, we need to get solutions and possibly its high time that some serious discussions on these issues were done.
May the government and think tanks in Malawi might need to come together and work with government to develop a strategy on “creating one million jobs”.
YONECO would like to join rural women leaders and their communities as we commence the 17 Days of Activism for the Empowerment of Rural Women Leaders and their constituencies to rise and claim their rights. This annual campaign runs from 1 to 17 October. Our thoughts are with women leaders at community level. We realize the great work you are doing and ask you to be part of the development process. At YONECO, we will be having the special programmes on the rural women and see how this could be improved at various levels. Let us support the women to claim their rights and hold the leaders accountable.
10th October 2021 is World Mental Health Day (WMHD). This comes at a time when we are experiencing a number of challenges in relation to mental health which include suicide cases which are on the increase. COVID- 19 has increased the pressure on mental health issues in Malawi and has made life more difficult. The theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’, as set by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). Inequality is indeed exerting a lot of pressure on our lives and making life difficult. As we celebrate this, we ask those in need of some support to get from mental health experts in all the hospitals while accessing some services from other providers like YONECO. You can call 5600, 6600 or 116 for support.