Youth in perspective
“High youth unemployment and drug trafficking continue to impede the consolidation of peace” says UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon
My concern with Youth development and growth in Sierra Leone could go as far back as 1992 when I started presenting a radio show on FM 99.9, “Accent on Youth, produced by Mr. Bickersteth; and a television show “Youth in Perspective” from 1994 to 1997, produced then by Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas and Presented by me.Â
As I read the report by the UN Secretary General, Ban Kimoon, More must be done to consolidate peace in Sierra Leone, says Ban, on the UN’s website, I start to ponder on the many roles of Sierra Leonean youths from the days I was a little girl to this point.
The message to the Government of Sierra Leone that unemployment of youth is an impediment to peace is crisp and clear. History shows that Youths have been used as thugs to destabilize peace in the country; a corollary of which some of them have become a menace to society.
I must hasten to say that all blames must not be cast on the Youths.
The government (APC) of Sierra Leone agrees that about 70 percent of youths are unemployed in the country- a number that has grown since inception of power from the SLPP.Â Because the future of the country is determined by the youths, an alarming unemployment rate is definitely a threat to the country’s fragile peace and stability.
Several factors have accounted for high youth unemployment: the war, lack of economic growth, misuse of youth development funds, government not focus on youth employment, dubious investment contracts and inefficiencies of the country’s labor market. As a result, the educated young are finding it difficult to find jobs and the uneducated are reduced to commercial sex, drugs and thuggery.
Sierra Leonean youths should start holding the government accountable for such retrogression. After two years in power, the APC has not kept its promise of increasing youth employment instead the conditions of youth continue to degrade. A problem that has stymied the youth themselves.
What the government needs as one of the ways of increasing youth employment is a comparison of the benefit-cost ratio of investing in young people versus productive sectors such as livestock and agricultural development projects, which shows that it can be more profitable to invest in young people than in these sectors (uneca.org). To justify this claim, uneca.org went on to say that, the benefit-cost ratio of a cotton processing and marketing project in Kenya in 1979 was only 1.8, while that of a youth basic education and literacy programme in Colombia was as high as 19.9.
Youth is defined by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs as one between the ages 15-24 years, although the definition varies among countries and development institutions.
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