In today’s edition of Youth Forum we bring you the contribution of the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS) to the empowerment and development of the nation’s youths.
According to the Executive Director, Emmanuel Mendy, the NYSS was established by an Act of Parliament entitled: “The National Youth Service Scheme Act No. 4 of 1999 and revised with an updated Act of 2015”.
He pointed out that the act outlines cardinal principles that would guide NYSS towards achieving its aim.
He revealed that NYSS inculcates discipline in Gambian youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to The Gambia in any situation they may find themselves.
Mr Mendy added that NYSS also seeks to boost the morale of the Gambian youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about the higher ideals of national achievements, social and cultural improvements.
The NYSS official further stated that the institution develops in the Gambian youths positive attitudes through shared experiences and suitable training, which would make them more responsive to the national interest.
NYSS also provides the youths with marketable skills to enable them secure employment in both the formal and informal sectors of the national economy.
He spoke of the recognition of the manner in which youths have been affected by the imbalances of the past, and the need to redress these imbalances through more equitable policies, programmes and the allocation of resources.
“The promotion of equal opportunity and equal treatment of youths by encouraging a gender-inclusive approach to the development of youths, whereby the social influences of gender, disability and the particular circumstances of young women are recognized,” he further noted.
It was also for the promotion of youths’ participation in democratic processes, community and civic decision-making and development at all levels, he said, adding that it as well fosters the promotion of the value of sustainability in order to ensure that the needs of youths are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
He added that the scheme was established in recognition of the government’s commitment to youth development, and also in response to the acute problem of unemployment among youths in the country.
He said the Gambia government was aware of the potentials of youths in contributing to national development, as they would be the future leaders of the nation; so it was essential and important to invest in developing youths’ capacities for self, community and wider national development.
Mr Mendy asserted that the scheme targets youths who fall within the age bracket of 17-30 years and are susceptible to some form of societal woes such as unemployment, indiscipline, frustration, drug abuse and continuous drinking of “Attaya”.
“It is against this background that government recognised the need to channel resources for youth development, and thereby decided to introduce the National Youth Service Scheme.”
“Since its creation, the programme strategy has been supporting youths to acquire skills of their choice for employment and self-employment opportunities.”
Initially, the scheme started with an intake of 100 youths in 1999, but by end of 2013 the total number of youths provided with skills stood at 1,678 in various skills areas such as computing, electrical installation, masonry, rice production, horticulture, auto-mechanics, secretarial studies, tailoring, livestock, carpentry, plumbing, electronics, accounting, home science, welding and fabrication, painting and decoration, refrigeration and air-conditioning, hairdressing, agronomy, maritime and catering.
In 2001, he added, a tracer and impact assessment study was conducted, and the results showed that there was a very high demand from youths who wanted to join the scheme, even though there were some misconceptions regarding the viability and success of the programme from skeptics.
“The results from the impact assessment proved very positive, especially in the areas of discipline, character and the accelerated rate in which youths acquired relevant skills for employ ability or self-employment.”
In 2002, the government expanded the mandate of NYSS to include apprenticeship training for youths who have never been to school, and those who left within six years of primary education.
He added that many of those corps members today are now either employed or self-employed, and some have progressed in life thanks to the intervention of the National Youth Service Scheme.