By: Kebba AF Touray
According to the National Youth Council (NYC) in its 2019 to 2028 Youth Policy, the increasing joblessness and underemployment of young people increase their vulnerability and involvement in the crime. The above statement was disclosed in the ‘Youth Policy’, the popularization of which was held recently. The popularization of the National Youth Policy aims to make young people have a thorough understanding of the policy as their guiding tool, after its approval from Cabinet.
The policy indicates among others, that “unemployed and under-employed youth, increased joblessness and under-employment among many young people in the Gambia, provides fertile ground for the involvement of young people in a whole series of negative social vices particularly petty crime, drugs and alcohol abuse, prostitution, illegal migration and a general loss of confidence in the governance system of the larger society”.
The policy further states however that the rights of Gambian youth comes with attendant responsibilities and obligations, adding that as citizens, young people have a civic responsibility to subscribe to and respect national, community and family values for the benefit of peace and peaceful co-existence; that in order to make the youth in the country tolerant, caring, responsible and productive citizens, the National Youth Policy outlines the following set of obligations and responsibilities for the Gambian youth to be patriotic and loyal to the Gambian nation and promote her wellbeing; to promote peace, security and development; obligation to embrace positive values of respect and tolerance for authority and towards parents, extended family and the community; demonstrate assertiveness and self-worth in line with positive values and attributes of role modeling; promote socio-economic independence of youth by attaching more values to positive attitudes and self-motivation; cultivate leadership values and deliberate participation in policy development, process and decision-making, and protect and account for the country’s physical, natural and financial resources by demonstrating a high level of ownership for their own benefit and for future generations. The National Youth Policy also outlines the obligations and responsibilities of youth to respect and protect public properties and that of others and to ensure the wise and effective use of those properties.
The NYC also highlighted the obligations of society to the youth, such as to promote and advance the principles of gender equality and respect for the rights of persons with disabilities; acquisition of skills to increase their capacity for self‐help; self-respectability, cooperation and community development to ensure a society free from violence; coercion, crime, devastation, exploitation, intimidation and other forms of social crime among others.
“The societal obligations to youth also include for the society to lead healthy and responsible lives by promoting physical and mental well‐being, including the issues of drugs and substance abuse, sexual and reproductive health issues and HIV/AIDS, in order to promote work ethics, life‐long learning and positive attitudes towards work and to be law-abiding, respectable, respectful and enlightened citizens, knowledgeable about their rights as well as duties and obligations,” the NYC report cited amongst others.
The report also acknowledged that it is the obligations of the Government towards young people that can empower them in their contribution towards their own development as well as being able to discharge their obligations and responsibilities to society.
“It includes creating the enabling environment and infrastructure that can form and generate youth with the requisite knowledge, skills, competence and comportment necessary for success in life, by creating the enabling environment and infrastructure which can generate opportunities for youth involvement in decision making that affects them. It includes the encouragement of the participation of young men and women in community life and development, by assisting young people in reaching their goals and full potential,” the NYC policy document indicated.
The policy according to NYC recognizes the feeling of desperation of unemployed youth and the fact that they require special attention by all stakeholders to deal with the wide range of problems they experience.
In this respect, NYC stated that the policy recommends the following policy measures to meet the challenges of young people in unemployment or under-employment; that all tiers of Government and the private sector, should redouble efforts towards job creation and
establish community‐based centres for skills acquisition to promote apprenticeship and vocational training across the country; facilitate access to resources for young people such as land, micro-credit, technology and information through business or technical advisory services and labour laws to mitigate youth under-employment, through minimum legislation and enforcement of the minimum wage.