15 January 2016

Kenya: Study Sheds Light On Problems Facing Youth

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editorial

Youth empowerment has become a subject of intense national discourse, given the central position young people occupy in the development agenda.

Increasingly, a number of programmes are being rolled out targeting youth, including an enterprise fund to give them seed money to enable them to get into productive ventures.

A gap exists, though, in terms of policy and reality and this arises from the fact that some of the interventions are not predicated on actual needs assessment.

This is what comes out in a new study whose findings are published elsewhere in this edition.

The Kenya Youth Survey Report, a study commissioned by the Aga Khan University's East African Institute, brings out some of the issues worrying youth, among them unemployment, lack of access to capital, high levels of corruption and lack of recognition, especially in national leadership.

Although unemployment and lack of access to enterprise funds have been widely discussed, there are numerous other nuanced but impactful issues that remain below the radar.

Whereas the study highlights the young people's concern over integrity deficiency, for example, it also shows that some of them have come to accept that vices such as bribery and tax evasion are not bad, after all, and if circumstances permit, they won't find difficulty engaging in them.

Even more pointedly, youth are willing to participate in elections to determine the national leaders, but a sizeable population declares that they would only vote for those who induce them.

And here comes the challenge. High levels of unemployment have created a pool of malleable fellows who can easily be swayed to vote for dubious characters, which undermines democratic goals and breeds bad governance and, in turn, perpetuates poverty and depravation.

The significance of this study is that it provides a starting point for engaging in deeper discussion on what can be done to tackle the real challenges facing young people and prepare them for the future.

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