The purpose of this event is also, to contribute and channel the youth voices, energy and idealism to reinforce the efforts towards the achievement of sustainable development in Africa.
However, my country Sierra Leone still remains a poverty driven nation with more than 60% of the population living on less than US$ 1.25 a day and unemployment and illiteracy levels remain high, particularly among youth. However, Sierra Leone has made considerable progress since the end of the civil war in 2002, consolidating peace, democracy and improving development indicators amid rising rates of economic growth, the outrageous Ebola pandemic and the ruinous August 14th landslide.
Sierra Leone’s President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as a responsible president aware about the mountainous challenges confronting youths and young people in Sierra Leone as well as the their relevant roles in nation building and the consolidation of peace and tranquility.
“My country is a nation of young people; over three fourth of the population is below 40. Youths, defined in my country as those between ages 15 and 35 comprise about a third of the country’s population. Without their participation, their health, and their positive role, our nation is doomed; there would be no present and no future. Agriculture is the occupation of the majority of our people; this is why this topic that speaks to the relationship between the majority of our people and our country’s major occupation is so very important to us.
Youths can do it themselves, but their efforts at constructing lives would be better served by the scaffolds and safety nets of a national development vision, program of action and relevant institutions. In Sierra Leone this national program of action had been our Agenda of Change, which has now been transformed into our Agenda for Prosperity.
Before I took over office as President in 2007, there was hardly any government institution specifically dedicated to serving youth interests. But this has changed. We have created a separate Ministry of Youths, a National Youth Commission and Youth Councils at chiefdom, districts, regional and national levels to ensure active youth participation in development programs. I have also appointed a Presidential Youth Aide in my office to integrate youth work into my daily activities at State House. We are presently concluding the framework for the creation of a National Youth Service that will help to nurture positive habits, patriotism, and facilitate career development that will help our youths to achieve their professional goals.” President Koroma Asserted
to Plenary of the 40 Chances Fellowship Program.
As the President ascertained in the aforementioned statement, one will assume that the President has genuine intention about youth affairs in the country. The establishment of youth institutions might be a blueprint to tackle problems that are confronting the youths of Sierra Leone.
the establishment of youth focused public institutions such as the Ministry of Youth Affairs(MOYA) that was established by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma with the approval of Parliament, the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) that was established by the Government of Sierra Leone through the National Youth Commission Act No.11, of 2009. It was signed into law by H.E. The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on 22nd December 2009 and published in the Supplement of the Sierra Leone Gazette Vol. CXLL No.3 dated 7th January, 2010. The Commission is a corporate body with the object of empowering the youth to develop their potential, creativity and skills for national development and for other related matters, the Presidential Youth Aide among others are offices established and they are running at the expense of public funds, all these institutions were established with one common focus, which is to address, protect and promote all issues related to the development of the country’s youths.
Critically, one will also ask the obvious questions amidst the availability of the aforementioned institutions, are the challenges related to youth being address? Does the current rate of youth unemployment in the country encouraging? What is the current rate of youths that are currently involved in the governance process of the country? Does the educational system favorable for the country’s young people? Do these established institutions meet or achieve their established blueprint? Specifically the Youth Commission has the following objectives- Creation of employment opportunities for the youth and develop medium and long-term strategies; Initiate youth development programmes in collaboration with relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies; Develop national youth development plan consistent with PRSP (Agenda for Change); Provide youth skills training programmes and scheme in collaboration with governmental or non-governmental bodies; Provide a focal point for addressing drug abuse by the youth and its related problems; Create a network for youth access to valuable information on beneficial services and incentive-driven amenities provided by governmental and non-governmental bodies; Coordinate youth groups and youth-serving organizations; Register youth groups and youth-serving organizations; and Do all other things as will contribute to the attainment of its stated object. Do these objectives achievable.
It is obvious that young people always have the unfair share of tragedies, ranging from the decade long war, the Ebola epidemic and most recently the floods and mudslides, the youths of Sierra Leone have been pivotal in the recovery processes.
We know that with the war, their innocence and vulnerability were callously preyed on by the adult world to devastating consequences. When we had the Ebola outbreak, the youths were very instrumental in the dissemination of news, promoting preventive and recovery measures.
We witnessed how they worked tirelessly to carry the sick, disinfect the afflicted and as grave diggers to bury our dead during the Ebola epidemic, and most recently during the mudslides. Unfortunately for our youths, there is an uncanny impression that their efforts have gone without the desired recognition.
Everyone at home and abroad noticed the positive actions of young people during the mudslides, these youths promptly responded to the needy at the expense of their health, using their bare hands and venturing into dangerous situations to rescue their fellow citizens; even before the emergency services and earth moving excavators roared into situ. This show of human decency, compassion and civic duty was plain for everyone to see.
But the sad truth about the matter is that, these youths do not appear to have been rewarded or accorded the kind of recognition that befits such heroism and societal status.
As a country, we have the potential to empower and enable our youths to become job creators from job seekers.
My fellow youths, is about time we delve into social entrepreneurship to address both personal and societal need. To all intents and purpose, what is lacking is the belief in our youths and the will power to convert their hopes, in a world where wisdom in youth can be a rare commodity.
To all the meaningful youths, who always be supportive to their neighbours, communities and fellow citizens, we say a big thank you. You are the heroes of the day, just keep the faith God will reward you one day.
“As we are approaching the forthcoming elections, young people must not be empty vessels that are to be crammed with the wisdom of unscrupulous and malevolent politicians that always used them to perpetrate violence; on the contrary young people must be co creative partners in development and nation building.”