columnBy Madiba Singhateh
Future Generation is a Column introduced by Foroyaa to give coverage to the issues and concerns affecting young people in the Gambia. This is a forum purposely meant for the youth to give them the opportunity to share the challenges they face vis a vis the current situation, both as individuals and as a population group,
which need to be addressed in order to enable them realize their aspirations and also contribute to the development of the country. In this edition, this reporter has again visited some young people in the Kanifing Municipality to ask them about their situation in terms of education, skills or occupation and how they are faring.
Ebrima Janneh, commonly known as Chuku, said he has been to school and finished at secondary level. He said he is presently doing petty business at the market in buying and selling electronic materials such as mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets. He said he is dependent on the business to sustain himself and his family.
He also disagrees with the claim that young people in The Gambia are lazy, arguing that the problem facing most of them is the lack of opportunities. He said some young people are really trying very hard to be productive but need support in terms of skills training, capital to start small businesses etc. He added that there are some who also are interested in travelling abroad for greener pastures. He however advised these young people that not all of them can make it only when they travel abroad, adding that some can make it here if the opportunities such as those he highlighted are provided for them. He gave himself as an example of someone who had travelled to Europe but could not make it there financially. He said he had to come back home with the little he was able to get and to set up something small which he is presently surviving on as the country is very tough now. He said not everybody can work in offices as some can learn skills and become craftsmen in the technical professions. He however added that the youth need to be assisted to acquire the necessary life skills and also opportunities to apply those skills to earn a living through self employment.
Another young person, Alieu Gassama who said he hails from Kaur in the Central River Region of the country, said he has completed his formal education up to secondary school level. After completing school, Alieu said he started as an un-qualified teacher from 2002-2003, adding that he left the teaching field because of the poor salary which is not even sufficient sustain him alone much more a family. In order to acquire a skill, Alieu said he pursued a course in electrical installation at the GTTI for 3 years and got his diploma. He said after this he was engaged in the search for a job first in the print media and adding that he was lucky to discover the availability of a training programme on Radiology X-ray at the University of The Gambia (UTG) and which he applied for and got shortlisted for an orientation.
Gassama said he has already finished the training but is yet to secure employment. He said the lack of employment for him is very frustrating.
He added that he has done many attachments but none of these resulted in employment. "You see the reason why young people want to leave this country for greener pastures abroad and are even risking their lives in places like Libya and the rough seas is because there are no jobs and low wages are also very low", he complained.
Gassama said the government and the private sector need to create job opportunities for the youth who have completed their education and are qualified with skills. He also disagreed with the view that the youth in the country are lazy, adding that they are only sitting down in street corners to drink "Attaya" green tea because of the lack of something meaningful to do. "Other than this, we have seen so many young people doing all sorts of low paying jobs in this country such as dock workers, apprentice carpenters, masonry, but without any improvement in their lives", he said.
He concluded that they want good jobs to be able to take care of themselves and their parents.