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The Role of Youths in National Development

Apr 24, 2008, 5:22 AM | Article By: Lamin Marong, Office of the Vice President, Banjul

The following is a letter received by The Point and relating to youth matters. Please read on.


    Please allow me a space in your respectable medium to express my views on the role that the youth have to play in the development of The Gambia.  Before I proceed though, let me outline some of the main problems encountered by the youth of today.

There is one major constraint upon the youth in our country that causes them, as well as our nation, much inconvenience.  It has become so worrying that if nothing is done about it, our future as a nation looks bleak indeed.  The vast majority of the youth in our country are unemployed.  The problem is that there are not a lot of job opportunities while there is a multitude of young men and women who must compete for these limited spots.  The few jobs that are available are being competed for by a large amount of young people, the majority of which will remain out of work.  To cap it all off, the trend that sees young people from our sister ECOWAS countries immigrating in to share these few jobs adds another dimension to this problem.  These young people find their way to The Gambia for many reasons, paramount amongst these being the peace and tranquility of our country, nevertheless, they still have to share the few jobs at hand and this crowds the jobs market even more.  This job shortage, compounded by the presence of foreign youths in The Gambia, can lead the young into trying to smuggle their way into Europe in order to find employment there, which endangers their lives and is usually done through illegal means.  Therefore, there is the need for the government, the private sector, and all other employers to create more jobs to improve the living conditions of young people.

We the youth also fail to play our role.  Most of us pick and choose jobs without the proper qualifications and worst of all many more of us are dropping out of school each year.  This truancy is rampant in our society nowadays. It is crippling us and will cause our country's movement and development much difficulty.  I think something needs to be done to put a stop to these attitudes and trends.  We have to be educated.  As we all know, education is very important in our lives.  If you think that education is expensive just try ignorance.  So, the challenge to us all is then to prepare ourselves with the skills and academic knowledge necessary to become good citizens who are able to provide meaningful contributions to our society.  Not only must we all be qualified academically but we also need to be prepared for hard work.  No nation can achieve greatness if her citizens are lazy.  Therefore, I am making a clarion call on my fellow youths to stop looking for white-collar jobs only.  To stop rejecting jobs that the youth of other countries are doing here, and above all to be innovative.  Create self-employment, drop the nerves syndrome, be more patriotic and be prepared to improve upon our efforts always.

Parents on the other hand have an important role to play because they are the authority in the household.  It is incumbent on them to provide the child's basic needs, which are food, shelter, clothing, and education.  They should also teach their children the real culture of our peaceful community.  Parents who fail in this role can lead their children into adopting street life, engaging in prostitution and other societal vices that may lead to early pregnancy or worse, dangerous STD's like H.I.V/AIDS.  Parents must remember that their children are among the most valuable members of society and deserve the utmost protection.
Therefore, I call upon all of us to tighten our belts, roll up our sleeves and be ready to work really hard.  I would like to remind the Gambian youth that it is not every generation that is called upon to hold the nation's flag in her hour of need.  Ours is therefore a unique opportunity.  We dare not fail.