Youth and sports Minister Hadrammeh Sidibeh has said in his 2019 International Youth Day (IYD) statement that his ministry is working with satellite institutions and strategic partners to operationalise the National Youth Development Fund to provide access to finance to youth-led initiatives.
He said this will enable them to start up the refurbishment of youth centres in Farafenni, Janjanbureh, Bansang and Basse and expand the Gambia Songhai Agricultural initiative in to other parts of the country.
Mr. Drammeh said these among other advocacy, skills training and sports development programmes under his ministry, coupled with the ongoing review of the National Youth Policy, are expected to give youth the much needed platforms and opportunities for innovation, employment creation, leadership and capacity to contribute towards national development.
International Youth Day is an awareness day designated by the United Nations. The purpose of the day is to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. The first IYD was observed on 12 August, 2000.
The theme for this year's celebration was "Transforming education." The day is used to reflect on the theme and contribution of youth and stakeholders towards the attainment of SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth), and SDG 10 (Reducing Inequality), as well as other related Sustainable Development Goals.
The day also provides the opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the contributions of youth, youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholder efforts toward transforming education system to accommodate youth and future of work.
Minister Drammeh said the theme highlights the need to make education more inclusive, accessible and relevant to today's world and for the future of work, adding that transforming education requires equipping young people with skills to embrace technological revolutions.
According to him, Government of The Gambia through his ministry will continue to prioritise youth empowerment and development, as emphasised in strategic priority seven of the National Development Plan, on harnessing the demographic dividend. "Young people constitute more than 65% of the population and their meaningful engagement and development is critical to sustainable national development," he said.
He quoted UN Secretary General, António Guterres as saying "we are facing a learning crisis. Too often, schools are not equipping young people with the skills they need to navigate the technological revolution. Students need not just to learn, but to learn how to learn. Education today should combine knowledge, life skills and critical thinking. It should include information on sustainability and climate change. And it should advance gender equality, human rights and a culture of peace."
He said the Ministry of Youth and Sports and satellite intuitions with stakeholders are expected to conduct series of activities including stakeholder inter-generational dialogue on transforming education in The Gambia, social mobilisations and media outreach on the theme.
He highlighted that youth in The Gambia continue to face several challenges such as unemployment, irregular migration and return, inadequate access to opportunities, relevant technical skills, access to finance, insufficient youth safe spaces, among other challenges across the continent.
The youth minister further emphasised that the provision of quality and relevant education and life-long learning opportunities for youth especially in digital skills, vocational education, business finances as well as cultural appreciation, sustainability, gender and human rights, within a progressive policy environment, will not only accelerate socio-economic transformation but could also facilitate attainment of National Development Plan, and by extension the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said despite these challenges, majority of Gambian youth in communities and the Diaspora continue to demonstrate resilience and commitment to maximally utilise the opportunities provided by the new Gambia across all sectors.