Gambian Youths Reaffirm Commitment to Development, Make Demands

Basse — Youth delegates at the just concluded 10th edition of the biennial National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF) have reaffirmed their commitment to the national development process of The Gambia, but laid down several demands that would enhance their effective and productive participation in the crusade.

The demands, contained in a resolution produced at the end of the week-long national youth convergence in Basang, Central River Region, challenged the government, civil society organisations, and development partners, amongst others to make concrete moves towards further changing the lives of the country's youths.

The resolution, signed by the heads of all the regional delegations and the National Youth Council executive secretary, Marcel Mendy, emanated from a five-day interactive conference that saw various presentations and panel discussions on key national issues.

Influenced by the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) and Vision 2020, as well as the provisions of the National Youth Policy and Programme of Action 2009 to 2018, which provides for government to work in partnership with young people and other relevant partners with the aim of championing youth development and empowerment in The Gambia, the youth called for the allocation of financial and material resources towards their initiatives at both national and local levels. This, they stated, could be done through piloting of innovative and smart youth-focused programmes and activities, with the view to creating employment for young people and thus serve as a strategy to minimise the incidence of youth involvement in drug abuse, rural-urban drift and illegal migration.

Also key on the resolution is the need for local government authorities to make special budgetary allocations - at least 10% of their budget for youth initiatives at both regional and municipal levels; as well as for the Ministry of Youth and Sports to renovate and re-equip existing regional youth and sporting centres, and ensure transfer of skills and training to all regions of The Gambia.

It further called on the Ministry of Youth and Sports to provide financial and material resources to the Regional Youth Committees (RYCs) through the secretariat of the National Youth Council, in order to transform RYCs to a more responsive, proactive and inclusive decentralised youth organs of the NYC.

"It also requests the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology through the National Training Authority to ensure that Technical, Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) for youths is prioritised as an engine for economic growth and effective youth participation towards the productive sectors of the economy; and further requests the establishment of skills and training centres in regions," the resolution stated.

The 2012 NAYCONF resolution also urged young people of The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Senegal and the entire sub-region to desist from substance abuse, trafficking, corrupt practices, rape and other criminal activities, and engage themselves in awareness creation and advocacy towards the promotion of meaningful livelihood for the youth.

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