columnBy Amadou Jallow
The National Youth Conference and Festival is designed to be an appropriate and effective means through which young people can dilate on issues that affect them. It also opportunes them to interact with each other and with relevant Government authorities, take part in debates during the conference and also learn from the different cultures existing in our society through cultural shows, performances and drama competitions.
The National Youth Conference and Festival is geared towards bringing young people (2000) together from all over the country and the world to enable them have a greater understanding of the issues affecting them, accept each other and explore means through which they can contribute to national development.
• Ensure that Government, donor agencies, and civil society institutions are aware of and appreciate the problems affecting the youth.
• Discuss and make recommendations on the National Youth Council Act and Youth Policy for recommendations and amendments of the instruments to the National Assembly.
• Increase representation and participation of youths in Government institutions, such as the National Assembly.
The conference also creates a platform through which young people from The Gambia and other African countries discuss issues that affect their lives, reaffirm their commitment to addressing these problems and also further solicit support from the government, UN agencies, opinion and religious leaders, NGOs, media and civil society organisations in the creation of an enabling environment for their development.
The Gambia National Youth Council has held NAYCONF on four occasions in 2001, 2004, 2006 and in 2011, with support from the Gambia Government in collaboration with UN agencies, private sector organisations and the civil society. The conference encourages alliance buidling, networking and sharing of best practices among other things.
Today, more than ever before, the international community is calling for greater youth participation in national development efforts. Governments, the world over, are being encouraged to develop national youth policies that will encourage youth participation in national development.
One cannot but hail the efforts of the Government of The Gambia for a well tailored National Youth Policy, formulated via a thorough consultation process between the Government, the youth and organisations that represent them, as well as other stakeholders.