12 August 2018

Kenya: Give Youth Room to Grow

editorial

Kenya joins the rest of the word to mark the international day for the youth on Sunday.

Definitions about the youth vary but in our circumstance, it covers those aged 16 - 35 years. But definitions do not matter. What is important is what a country does about the young members of its population who are the majority.

What opportunities are available for the young people to exploit their talents and skills to better themselves and importantly, create a better society given that the future is theirs.

SPECIAL ATTENTION

Statistically, the youth constitute the highest percentage of the population hence the imperative to pay special attention to them.

In Kenya, several initiatives have been instituted to support the youth and prepare them for the future.

They consist of educational opportunities and financial subsidies and loans.

Jobs have generally become scant and therefore the focus has shifted to empowering the youth with skills and finances to enable them get into self-employment.

Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Uwezo Fund and even the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) are some of the funds that support young people.

TENDERS

Government now insists that a percentage of tenders or contracts are ring-fenced and allocated specifically to the youth. Underpinning this is the fact that the youth are disadvantaged and cannot compete fairly in an open market.

Not only don't they have the financial muscle for tendering, but they also do not have the right connection.

Some level of success has been achieved, but the road ahead is steeper.

CHALLENGES

Thus far, the youth have to contend with several challenges - competitive education system that focuses them on scoring grades rather than attaining practical skills for survival; serious unemployment crisis; lack of mentors to show them the way; drug abuse, among others.

As this year's youth day theme suggest, it is incumbent on the government, communities and parents to create safe space for the youth - provide an environment that allows them to exploit their talents to the full; one where ability and not background matters.

Kenya

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