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Youth President: failure to address youth socio-economic exclusion could jeopardise development in Sierra Leone

Youth President: failure to address youth socio-economic exclusion could jeopardise development in Sierra Leone

President of Young Leaders-Sierra Leone, Unisa Dizo-Conteh Junior (in photo), has said that failure to address youth socio-economic exclusion could threaten sustainable development in Sierra Leone.

“Youth comprise approximately 60 percent of the country’s population – yet, they face major exclusion in education, employment and political participation,” said Dizo Junior.

“Failure to address these issues now could result to major problems to sustain development in Sierra Leone,” he added.

Speaking at a symposium on “Youth and Development in Sierra Leone,” organised by The International Association of Sierra Leoneans Abroad (INASLA) in London on 18 November, the youth leader said the current education system was failing young people.

“Students today are poorly equipped compared to previous generations.”  Adding: “Some graduates are coming out of universities poorly equipped in skills such as reading, writing and critical thinking,” said Dizo Jnr.

“Seventy percent of the youth are unemployed or underemployed,” he said.  “The employed youth are concentrated in informal sectors doing labour intensive work in the mines and so on.”

In his response, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to the UK and Northern Ireland H.E. Edward Turay said that the government of Sierra Leone was committed to addressing the socio-economic problems the youth face.

He said that that was the main reason President Koroma established the National Youth Commission, to empower the youth to develop their potential, creativity and skills for national development.

Mr Dizo Jnr said: “what must really be done is to translate policies into action, which clearly defined short and long terms goals.”

Other guest speakers at the event included Mr Augustine Robinson, director of RADA in Sierra Leone, who stressed the significance of youth development.

Mr Alex Farrington from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) talked about the youth exchange program currently underway between Sierra Leone and the UK.

Mr Michael Fofanah, chairman of INASLA, talked about the activities his organisation has been doing over the years to help the youth in Sierra Leone, especially in rural areas.

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