Kenya: Lobby Calls for Pre-University Paramilitary Training

10 December 2018

A Nakuru-based lobby group has renewed calls for the reintroduction of mandatory training of high school leavers at the National Youth Service.

The Peoples' Power Watch says it will petition the National Assembly to introduce and fast-track legislation reviving the enrolment of youth to the NYS before they join tertiary institutions "to boost discipline in the country".

"When NYS training was mandatory ... learners in higher learning institutions were highly disciplined, unlike current students. Our learners should be equipped with paramilitary training to respond to disasters and get patriotism training," said People's Power Watch Chairman Jesse Karanja.

He said that will prevent the youth from drinking, abusing drugs, and engaging in other anti-social behaviour due to idleness.

The lobbyist also wants every county to establish an NYS training centre.

"We need to empower our youth before they join higher learning institutions. If they had undergone this training, cases of love triangle murders at universities and colleges would be minimal. All these are the result of indiscipline," Mr Karanja added.

The NYS was established in 1964 to impart technical and entrepreneurial skills to young people, alongside paramilitary training to respond to disasters such as floods, famine and collapsed buildings.

The programme was operational until the 1980s, when it was discontinued.

It is not the first time the idea of reviving has been broached. In 2013, the Senate passed a law making it compulsory for high school leavers to sign up for the NYS, but the plan has not been implemented.

In a bid to restructure the NYS, President Uhuru Kenyatta in August this year, appointed Dr Francis Owino, formerly the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs, to oversee the streamlining of the department.

The President recommended the restructuring of the NYS to resolve the "operational problems" that have led to financial losses in the past.

Since then the NYS has been undergoing re-examination of budgetary and internal audit processes.

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