President, Adama Barrow, has said that his government would not relent in its
efforts to provide the youth sector the maximum attention it deserves.
It was sad and shocking to note that given the country’s size, Global data from International Organization for Migration and other international development agencies have shown that Gambians accounted for a substantial share of youth irregular migration to Europe in the last decade.
President Barrow’s statement was read on his behalf by the Secretary General and Head of Civil Service, Dawda Fadera, at the opening of the 12th edition of the National Youth Conference and Festival NaYConf on Saturday 16 December 2017, in Basse.
He said the sad scenario showing rising number of healthy and talented youths fleeing the country instead of staying and actively participating in nation building, was not only going in search of greener pastures but also out of political and social frustration meted out by the previous regime.
He said this situation, which has led to deaths of so many young people on the high seas and the future enslavement of many others, cost the country dearly.
He disclosed that over 70% of Gambia’s population is under 35 years of age, adding that during the last two decades the youths of the country who resisted the fear and temptation to flee the country became largely victimized, marginalized and traumatized.
According to him, some were used as political tools, some as thugs and the majority who resisted faced severe consequences including moving into exile, jail and persecution.
President Barrow described the event as special in many ways given that this was the first such conference organized by the youths of the country under the new democratic governance that they helped to bring into being.
He noted that the rationale for this important youth event commonly referred to as NaYConf was to among others foster understanding and cooperation among the youths and create awareness on the critical contribution of the youths in nation building and particularly their fight for restoration of democracy and good governance.
He stated that the event invariably offers youth and the nation an opportunity to reflect on the young people’s critical roles, commitment and responsibilities in their drive for socioeconomic development.
The week also serves as a platform for them as young people to communicate their ideas, contributions, constraints and concerns relating to nation-building and their welfare.
He also explained that the current National Youth Policy (2009-2018) prioritizes and seeks to address economic empowerment and skills development, quality and relevant education for youths through uninterrupted cycle of education and in such areas as youth in agriculture for employment and food security, youth irregular migration, youth in ICT among others.
He said this underscored the importance of ensuring the youths are placed at the centerpiece in the implementation of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
He further noted that young people are not only the largest part of the population but also represent the hope for the future of The Gambia.
He said this was why it was important for the government, parents and partners to invest in youth, especially in capacity-building to enable them serve effectively as the channel of growth and prosperity.
He urged youths to share experience and best practices while exploring challenges with the view to turning them into opportunities for sustainable growth and national development.