In today’s edition, we bring you the recent African Youth Day observed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
African Youth Day is observed on November 1 of every year, and this year’s commemoration had the theme: “Africa Year of Human Rights towards Agenda 2063-the Africa We Want.’’
It focused on the fulfillment of the fundamental human rights of youths, particularly the rights of girls and young women in shaping the future we want for Africa.
Speaking at the commemoration day ceremony, Alieu K, Jammeh, the Minister of Youths and Sports, said the day was set aside by the African Union (AU) to promote and celebrate the immeasurable contributions of youths towards national and continental development.
The day was also meant to increase the recognition of youths as key agents of social change, economic growth and sustainable development in Africa; and to acknowledge and remind duty bearers of the magnitude of challenges facing youths, which calls for a collective responsibility, he said.
“About 65 per cent of the total population of Africa is below the age of 35 years, and over 35 per cent are between the ages of 15 and 35 years, making Africa the most youthful continent in the world,” the Youth minister said.
He pointed out that each year about 10 million young Africans enter the labour market.
“This demographic reality points to the need to invest and transform our youths into bankable assets to sustainably transform our continent, as highlighted in the African Youth Charter and Decade Plan of Action on Youths, which are both in line with the AU agenda 2063,” Youth minister Jammeh added.
They acknowledge the efforts of the AU towards youth development, among which is the formulation of the African Youth Charter; Decade Plan of Action on Youth; Youth Volunteers Corps; inclusion of youths and women in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); establishment of the AU Youth Hubs, among other positive endeavours, he further stated.
He said youths in The Gambia, just as in other parts of Africa have numerous and diverse needs; sometimes very urgent needs that demand for the collective attention of family, community, state and non-state actors, and civil society participation, in addressing them.
Minister Jammeh added that the Gambia government continues to recognise the important role young people play in the socio-economic and positive cultural development of the country, and towards the maintenance of the highly-cherished peace and social cohesion.
Equally, he added, the government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the ministry’s satellite agencies, has provided platforms for the fulfillment of the rights of youths to participate in decision-making at both local and national levels, preparing them to value dignity in labour, whilst enhancing their employability.
“The recent establishment of the modern innovative agricultural value chain training centre in Chamen, North Bank Region, called Gambia Songhai Initiative Centre is one of our deliberate efforts, in partnership with our development partners, to build the skills and competence of youths in agriculture, both as means for self-employment and to improve food security in the country.
“As we celebrate this day, let’s recognise that in The Gambia our government continues to register remarkable successes, in making it possible for young people to go to school from primary to senior secondary uninterrupted.
“Nonetheless, we remind ourselves during this celebrations of the commitments made in the African Youth Charter, which was endorsed by the heads of state and government of Africa at their summit hosted in The Gambia in 2006, and ratified by the country in 2009,” he continued.
It was in fulfillment of those commitments in the charter, and the need to capture the emerging needs of youths, that the National Youth Council Act is being revised and the National Youth Policy 2009-2018 is being reviewed midway, the minister further noted.
“It is our conviction that young people and all other duty bearers including development partners, civil society, local government councils, parents and young people, will align their programmes with these instruments and continue to support their effective implementation for the greater good of our young people.”
The Youth minister said through their partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and UNDP, they would pursue to strengthen the Gambia Songhai Initiative to be the centre of excellence in Africa for youth socio-economic entrepreneurship development in agriculture, along with the ministries of Higher Education and of Basic and Secondary Education.
“We hope to pilot a compulsory national service in 2016 to give young graduates the opportunity to earn job experience, while serving their communities for employability,” he said.
With the Ministry of the Interior, they are exploring further methods to positively address migration issues of youths, adding that with the Ministry of Trade and Employment, they shall ensure that there is a coordinated approach to employment creation for the youths.
With the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, they would continue to promote healthier lifestyles for youth, that encourages physical exercise; and would as well strengthen their collaboration and forge partnerships with other ministries and development stakeholders to deliver their promised mission to the youths of the country, he added.
Minister Jammeh thanked the President and the entire government for creating the conducive environment and services for youth development in The Gambia, as well as the United Nations System in The Gambia notably, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNAIDS, UNICEF, FAO, WFP, among others, for their continuous support to youth development.
He also appreciated the contribution of NGOs, particularly those focusing on youths, women and children for their collaboration and contributions to national development, as well as young people for being steadfast in their collective responsibility to serve the country and parents during thick and thin.
The minister encouraged the country’s youths to remain disciplined, loyal and dedicated to Vision 2016, Vision 2020 and Vision 2025 for a prosperous Gambia.