minister of Youth and Sports, Henry Gomez, has acknowledged that the country’s
young people are endowed with some great talents, gifts and potentials some of
which are yet to be fully tapped to transform the country.
He admitted that youth play the most important role in nation building and are not only the leaders of tomorrow but also the partners of today.
Speaking at the graduation of the 4th batch of youth cohorts who were trained at The Gambia Songhai Initiative (GSI) at Chemen Training Center in the North Bank Region, Minister Gomez said young people must be social actors for progress because they are a crucial segment and positive contributors to national development.
The Youth minister further maintained that national development is a progressive and constructive process of engaging all citizens in building social cohesion, economic prosperity and political stability. “The involvement of youth in national development is a must. We must acknowledge that Gambia’s future rests on the shoulders of its youth.”
He said the values inculcated in the graduates and the qualities they possess will inevitably brought to bear on the nation tomorrow because the knowledge, skills and principles they acquired over the years would be used as tools for the development of the nation. “They are the ones who will meet the specific manpower needed for the nation,” he said.
Mr. Gomez indicated that The Gambia Songhai Initiative is an innovative approach to agriculture which will help in not only ensuring food security but also address key issues of youth unemployment in the country through knowledge building and skills development.
He also cited that it is an innovative project which comes to change the mindsets of Gambian youth many of who, he said agriculture is the job for the poor or the uneducated. “What we have here is the pure and clean sort of agriculture that teaches modern methods of agriculture and at the same time respecting the environment.”
According to him, the initiative came after 29 Gambian youth graduated from 6-month training in Benin and returned to the country in February 2015 to transfer their skills. Sixteen of them are currently engaged by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in their MDGs community gardens all over the country while 5 are absorbed by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and 2 established their own agribusiness farms in their respective communities. “To date, 177 youth, covering first to the fifth batches had been recruited for training. Currently, 39 (11 male and 28 female of the 4th and 5th batches are undergoing their training sponsored by YEP- Youth Empowerment project.”
He said government of The Gambia will continue to reaffirm its strong commitment to further develop the initiative and will continue to make substantial amount of contribution in its national budget as counterpart contribution to the project.