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Engage youth and rethink job creation model

By Antony Nkuubi | October 17th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

In its preamble, the 2010 Constitution begins by honouring those who fought heroically for our liberty. Our forefathers are the people thereof. 

They dreamed a healthy, vibrant, nourished Kenya where within its boundaries their children and subsequent generations, would find prosperity. Yet recent developments, filled with realities of modern life, have had the very stone on which our freedom fighters set the everlasting vow, now being challenged about their very own immortality. We are our forefathers’ grandsons and granddaughters. Like my contemporaries can attest, we were encouraged to work hard and excel in school during our formative years as pupils so we can secure bright futures.

Most of us listened to the advice of our teachers, and worked hard and continued in linear progress with education. First forward: 20 plus years on, at the edge of brink futures is a decent chunk of those hard-working people. Some stare at unfulfilled dreams, unemployment, homelessness and broken promises with negative consequences being drugs, pornography, prostitution, gambling, mental health and other vices that threaten young people today.

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With this undesirable environment, a sense of futility sets in wherein they loathe the administrative structure and system and see the government as nothing good. Patriotism, hard work, honesty and other democratic principles and values then become foreign words to them. 

Forward thinking people may wonder how we get here. Although the issue is global, I will speak from a youthful perspective in Kenya. 

If Kenya were a sane society, it would respect its heritage to the degree that it was willing to invest in its youthful people. Young people have been the focus of debate for too long, yet the government remains unwilling and/or incapable of recognising and resolving its plight. The strength of democracy lies, by every measure, in making young people involved and motivated. Therefore, the very act of failing to prioritise the youth puts at risk the idea and practice of democracy. 

It is clear that unemployment is the problem facing young people today. Despite the inclusion of young people in the Constitution and the creation of the Uwezo Fund and the allocation of 30 per cent for special classes, including young people, lack of opportunities stills overshadows them. 

Perhaps, the error policy makers make is to assume everybody is interested in borrowing business loans. On the contrary, there are those of us who would like to venture into the informal sector like agriculture and craft. Still, many want to acquire self-employment skills like photography, masonry, and plumbing. 

A job gives one a life and something for which to live. It grants a person the dignity s/he deserves including ability to be heard, financial independence, access to basic needs and prospects of a better life. It’s a shameful and tragic spectacle that a few individuals with highly placed connections have access to opportunities while many qualified live below potential.  It’s no wonder a good number of youth have been celebrating corrupt public officials for their masterly robbery of public coffers.

Some of these crooked officials continue to perpetuate the notion among these venerable groups that academic papers and other credentials don’t matter anymore if you are super connected. These crooks continue to perpetuate the notion, within revered classes, that if one is super connected, academic papers and other qualifications don’t matter much. This discourse points to a perception of ‘working less yet smart’ that is wrong but increasing. The government should rethink all of its shades of job creation and economic growth to enhance economic empowerment among its people. Those in power have every need to increase economic opportunities and to reduce unemployment.

-The writer is an Obama Foundation Leader, 2018


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