Keetmanshoop — New Era recently engaged youth leaders from various political parties in the //Kharas Region so that they could share on the challenges they face and on what remedial interventions should be implemented to address these demands.
Felicia Motinga, the national vice-chairperson for the Popular Democratic Movement's (PDM) Youth League felt the Namibian youth lacks confidence, "not believing in themselves", hence the many challenges they face today.
Citing the high crime rate, unemployment and substance abuse as the biggest challenges for today's youth, she emphasized the requirements to enter the labour market for this age group is sometimes too high due to a lack of education and experience.
"The youth should however not totally rely on the government for assistance, but rather expose themselves to community projects as a means of gaining the experience needed," suggested Motinga. She added the leaders of today are at times ignorant towards these challenges the youth face, as they are not considered in decision-making processes.
"Many of us passed Grade 12 but cannot be enrolled at institutions of higher learning and vocational training centres in Namibia as most of the time only well-connected kids are accepted at them," the youth leader said. In addition, she called on leaders who can afford to send their children for tertiary education to rather give the less fortunate kids opportunities instead of letting their children study on the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) grants and loans.
Motinga further said, "some leaders will come up again with empty promises since it is election year, they are failing us as the youth who must just see how our country goes down." She urged youth to stand up and get more involved in politics as aged politicians should step down and give the younger generation a change to take ownership of developmental programmes in government.
"Budgetary provision should be made as a priority from funds allocated for the youth in the current financial year to train the youth as entrepreneurs and become Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in addition to assist them with capital to start their own businesses," concluded Motinga.
Easter Isaak, a Landless People's Movement (LPM) youth activist says the high employment rate among the youth is one of the biggest challenges in the //Kharas Region.
"Social and moral evils are uncontrollable due to the mushrooming of shebeens in our region," said Isaak. He also mentioned the lack of equal opportunities in the public service as a factor hampering much needed development for the youth. Isaak says the non-provision of financial assistance to the youth to get educated is another obstacle facing them.
"No urban or rural land is availed to us and those fortunate to have rural land are suffering tremendously because of the prevailing, devastating drought in the country," Isaak said.
As measures to rectify these challenges, the youth activist called on those in power to create more equal opportunities for the youth in Namibia, in order to allow them to grow.
"Shebeens should be eliminated in residential areas in order to improve productivity of students and reduces criminal activities related to alcohol." Isaak further requested for the provision of financial assistance for the youth in cases where free education is not available. He also advocated for the establishment of support bases for alcohol and drug abuse as their movement condemns such substance abuse. "LPM promotes productive initiatives that would nurture our youth in becoming change agents and valuable, productive citizens," says Isaak. He further recommended urban and rural land should be availed to all in order to stimulate productivity and the country's economy.
"The youth ministry should seriously consider investing massively in crop production, farming and agricultural related enterprises with public funds budgeted for," he advised.
Samuel Jacobs, the secretary for the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) in the //Kharas Region says unemployment, alcohol and drug-abuse and the lack of skills and the high school drop-out rate count among the main challenges faced by the youth in the region.
"The responsible institutions in the government should come out of their comfort offices and inform and educate the youth how to go about and start with programmes," said Jacobs.
There are "many government institutions that have empowerment programmes that could assist with high unemployment in the region."
The youth leader specifically mentioned the ministries of Industrialization Trade & SME Development, Gender Equality and Child Welfare as well as Sports, Youth and National Services under which the National Youth Council resorts as the ones having financial aid schemes, business empowerment progammes for upcoming entrepreneurs and financial aid programmes as agents of transformation for the youth to explore. In terms of the opportunities existing in the agricultural section, Jacobs felt that the youth should register for programmes such as crop production and chicken farming as a means self- sustainability and employment creation.
As a means of addressing the dangers of substance abuse and teenage pregnancies, he suggested interventions in place at the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Safety and Security to assist the victims of these social evils.
"The government should fast track the completion of the Vocational Training Centre as it can provide the youth who dropped out of school with the necessary skills and expertise in order to become self-reliant," suggested Jacobs.
In addition, he also feels land should be availed to the youth to start with crop production as a means of sustaining themselves and eradication of poverty.
"We would like the Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Services, Governor's Office, //Kharas Regional Council and Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to take ownership of the Keetmanshoop gemstone, garment and tailoring factories in order to address the lack of training and equipment for the youth as means of alleviating poverty and creating employment," concluded Jacobs.
The 2016 report of the Namibia Inter-censal Demographic Survey indicated 63 percent of the total population in the //Kharas Region comprise of the age group 15-59 years, which includes the youth.