Sunday, April 15, 2012

Youth is the Backbone of National Development

A country where all citizens, young and old, are informed about                                             and engaged in all major issues that affect their lives. A place where adults and young people are together at the table; debating, grappling with problems, crafting solutions and jointly deciding on how resources should be allocated. A robust democracy where all people, including youth, exercise their right to select those who should speak and act on their behalf and hold them accountable. Where young people have an equal opportunity to have a sustainable livelihood. Imagine adults and young people working together to build a thriving a society from the ground up contributing to nation building from the community level up to the national level.
Herein lies the power behind the potential role of youth as nation builders through political participation. The term nation building is used here to refer to a constructive process of engaging all citizens in building social cohesion, economic prosperity and political stability in an inclusive and democratic way. It is a process through which all people have access to and control of structures and mechanisms that govern their lives. Admittedly, the vision sounds unattainable and lofty for two reasons. 1) few societies have found adequate ways to ensure that all adults fully participate in the political process, 2) even fewer have found adequate ways to ensure that young people share in the burdens and benefits of citizenship.

There are three frequently cited reasons for why young people are excluded from political participation.
1) Young people are perceived as lacking the skills and qualities
2) young people are not afforded the opportunities to share power with adults, and
3) young people are portrayed as lacking the motivation

Young people are often viewed as lacking the skills needed to become part of the political process. These perceptions are often backed by popular theories on childhood development and adolescence, many of which define youth as social group that is in the stage of becoming adults .
Young people are the last group we are allowed to systematically exclude.
young people are not afforded the opportunities to share power with adults in part because they are viewed as lacking the requisite skills. Consequently, they are not invited to the table. The very idea of youth citizenship young people participating as equals is a stretch for many adults. The irony is, however, that once at the table, young people are often viewed as a threat to adult power. Rather than work with young people to build the skills, adults either abdicate power or work to control it. This tendency to exclude young people has been well-substantiated in international
Therefore youthfulness has become a major justification for excluding young people from decision making. It is also important to emphasize that these ideas are also present all major social institutions; from the family, the school, the community; religious institutions etc. It is not a surprise that there are not expectations, and processes that facilitate the political participation of young people within their communities as well as at the national level.

One of the more frequently used justifications excluding young people is the entrenched myth of youth apathy - young people are frequently portrayed as lacking motivation to become involved. This myth is captured most aptly in the media hype about Generation X syndrome which describes young people as a socially inert, self-absorbed group with little or no interest in the political process.

However, recent research reveals that young people are far from apathetic. It is true that many young Americans over 18 do not vote or show interest in the conventional modes of political expression via political parties. Yet young people are showing great interest in political issues and are constantly searching for different ways of expressing themselves.
It would be a grave mistake to assume that youth do not participation in the political process at all. There are innumerable activities that seek to mobilize young people politically in neighborhoods and cities across the nation - activities initiated by young people and some initiated and supported by adults committed to youth empowerment. These initiatives cover a very broad spectrum. Examples include: organizing young people in their communities; educating young people to use the democratic process; advocating for and training young people to be part of governance structures of civil society organizations and through local government; monitoring and advocating for changes in the legislation at city and state level and many other such areas. These initiatives are unique because young people play a central role in the determination and execution of strategies.

Many agree that this rich tapestry of localized youth action holds the promise of expanding the possibility for young people as equal and active stakeholders in the political process. However, such initiatives tend to be limited to the micro level and rarely transcend the neighborhood and city level.
The idea of tackling this subject arose at the International Development Conference: Global Meeting of Generations held in Washington DC in January 1999. At this forum, young people from across the world grappled with the role young people should play in the governance process of their societies as well as international bodies such as the United Nations.

 Role of youth in nation building.
The term - nation building - is usually used to refer to a constructive process of engaging all citizens in building social cohesion, economic prosperity and political stability in an inclusive and democratic way. It is important to note that the priceless resource of any country is its human resource. There is no other resource that matches the human being, because mankind is the foundation or the corner stone of any development and civilization. Out of the human intellect a nation is built. This can be confirmed by the fact that many countries are able to attain steady growth and development with limited natural resources through the intelligence of their people and the labour force. Young people are a crucial segment of a nation s development. Their contribution therefore is highly needed. Young people are social actors of change and as the saying goes "youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the partners of today.
As scholars have stated, "time is not evaluated by what has been harvested, but what has been planted". The government and society at large have equal responsibility to provide the youth with suitable grounds and thereby bringing about a matured and responsible population for the coming generation to lead a better life. As such the establishment of the a Department of State for Youth, the development of a comprehensive National Youth Policy, the establishment of National Youth Service Scheme,
We have to focus on young male and female students to develop in those competencies and skills which would not only help them to unleash their potential but also groom them as good human being and a successful person not only for themselves and their families but also for playing their due role for the enlistment and well being society and country at large.                                                                                                                            
Meanwhile, it is good to have these structures in place but if the youths do not make the best use of them no beneficial result will be realized. As young people we must be ready and willing to take advantage of any opportunity that comes our way. It s important to note that we can t all work in offices, therefore some of us would have to train ourselves to be welders, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, craftsmen, farmers and so on. It s wise to note that traveling to Europe does not serve as a solution for youths as others might take it for granted. Much more by illegal means, which has made this country, lost a lot of able-bodied men over the past few years.As the rain season is fast approaching, the youth should embrace and adhere to the call made by the Gambian leader for youths to go back to the land as agriculture is the backbone of the country s economy. It is interesting to know that the issue of migration, both within and outside the country, has also had a negative impact on the country s agricultural productivity. The rural urban migration and the seeking for pasture to the European countries through fatal means has had had a serious implication on the agricultural sector and the country s economy. No foreign aid would develop this country for us; we must therefore work to develop our nation.

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