Artesia — With a membership of over 50 million in 224 countries and territories, the scout movement is an influential social force of young people for positive change, says Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Mr Mmusi Kgafela.
Officially opening the 2nd annual southern region scouts and girl guide camp, Mr Kgafela said as a grassroots educational youth movement, scouting provided the much needed entry point into communities.He said through scouting, the private sector and community organisations, national governments and development partners had groups of disciplined, reliable and committed young people who could successfully champion community development agendas.
Mr Kgafela further said guidance provided by well-trained adults who volunteered their time, knowledge, skills and resources helped ensure that the young people did things the right way and grew up to become responsible citizens.
"The interventions need to be massive but starts from small actions such as good turn up every day, undertaking community service activities and projects," he saidThe scout movement in Botswana, which predates independence, comes from a long way in developing young leaders, he said.
Mr Kgafela said the national scouting organisation of Botswana was founded in 1936 and became a member of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement in 1958.
He said the vision of the movement was to create a better world where development was sustainable and where there was equity and inclusion of all people. He added that the vision also envisioned a world where young people were empowered to contribute positively to their communities and a world free from poverty and diseases and where there was peace.
He said it called on them to take stock of the plight of young people in Botswana and the challenges they faced.
"As articulated in Vision 2036, the country is faced with high HIV/AIDS incidence rates, in particular among young people, high unemployment rates (above 20 per cent), especially among the youth," he said."Human capital development, therefore, remains a critical element in addressing some of the challenges faced by our communities, particularly the young people," said Mr Kgafela.
The theme of the camp was youth engagement: Key to a knowledge based economy, and Mr Kgafela said it called for participatory development where citizens took charge of their own development.
He said young people constituted 46.5 per cent of the population, and that "it goes without saying that they must not only be seen, but they should be heard.'
Minister Kgafela further said initiatives that sought to equip young people with the necessary skills were a welcome development.
He said it was also a known truth that young people were the drivers of a knowledge based economy, and that in order to tap into their creativity and talent, stakeholders needed to provide the necessary environment through initiatives such as the camp.
Mr Kgafela said consistent with the ideals of the scout movement, the country had just launched the 16 days of activism against violence on women and children.
He said it was upon every individual to make sure that they respected their mothers, sisters and daughters.Mr Kgafela urged scouts to step up their programmes and collaborate more with government in building character among the young people in order to fight gender based violence. He said those programmes would go a long way in building a community of responsible youth and adults.
Source : BOPA