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How Kenya's National Youth Service has evolved through the years to be what it is

By Wilfred Ayaga | Published Sat, June 27th 2015 at 10:24, Updated June 27th 2015 at 10:34 GMT +3

The National Youth Service (NYS), now at the centre of graft claims, was established in 1964 through an Act of Parliament.

It was initially designed as a paramilitary service that provides an organised and disciplined human resource pool through which the youth would be involved in national development programmes and later be absorbed into the job market.

For over 20 years until the early 1980s, it was compulsory for all pre-university students to undergo rigorous training programmes, including paramilitary training through the NYS.

The purpose of the training was to expose the young adults to reality of national building and the attendant challenges. Over the years, however, the service slowly deteriorated due to poor allocation of resources by the government.

Like other institutions that were established, the service progressively fell victim to corruption and management apathy.

However, in recent years, the service’s importance was noticed as its personnel was deployed to maintain peace in situations the police had been stretched or a rapid response unit in emergencies. The new NYS was launched on September 10, 2014, with a promise by President Uhuru Kenyatta that his government would revamp the service and return its glorious past.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru became the new face of the service and within a short time, a service that had long been seen as a conduit for government bureaucrats to siphon money became the dream of many Kenya youth.

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However, with current controversy, the New NYS glory could be short lived and the service’s core values of Integrity, Patriotism and discipline be placed under severe threat.

From recruiting just a few thousands, NYS numbers are in tens of thousands.

The number includes university graduates and other graduates from middle level colleges.

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