By Alphons Koruhama
The future of the Namibian economy will depend on what the nation spends its money on.
Namibian youth represent both an opportunity and a challenge for the country.
They are a potential human resource bases for development, if they are nurtured and are productive, but can be a source of conflict and social tension, if neglected.
Providing youth with the education and skills they need to participate in the productive economy, and involving them in policy design, is key for their inclusion in national development.
We need to advance development activities that create more job opportunities for youth across different sectors. But there are no universally applicable or effective solutions. Sound policies should be based on an in-depth understanding of specific contexts.
Policymakers should also pay more attention to disadvantaged or potentially vulnerable groups, which include female, disabled, indigenous, minority ethnic, rural and poor urban youth. For the nation to achieve our well-documented and well-articulated Harambee Prosperity Plan, the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 4 and 9, the African Union Agenda 2063 (aspiration number 6), the Fifth National Development Plan and Vision 2030, the youth need to be engaged.
For economies to be more inclusive for the youth, it’s important to create training programs that specifically tailored for young entrepreneurs, which are not only theoretical but also practical and experiential. Appropriate financial help and mentoring by experienced practitioners are also vital.
Being at the grassroots level of youth empowerment, led us to understand that sometimes good policies lack practicality.
Selecting youth to participate in an economic development program is always a challenge, because you will be always confronted with the following: Did you select the neediest or the most entrepreneurial? Did you select those with the highest test scores or the lowest?
There is no clear winner. To mitigate that challenge, firstly you need to get dirty and not sit in a fancy office and decide for the people in Havana and 8ste Laan, with no idea about what they are going through.
When talking about youth programs, one often is asked to define youth by age range. However, the category of youth is so broad that we need to dig deeper than age to understand the nuances of this particular section of the population. Understanding the realities of the young people you will work with helps you design the right program for them. What is their level of education and literacy? Are they marginalised? Are they expected to contribute to their families’ finances? Are their career choices constrained by societal prejudices or ignorance?
When we combine these elements, we can help youth become drivers of stability and economic opportunities. The key to success is the active engagement of stakeholders, who influence young people’s lives.
To ensure that youth get involved, Possibility Thinkers is urging local people to mobilise resources to address local needs. It believes that youth are in a position to be among the stable and long-term contributors that help guide this process.
Youth represent a vast and often untapped resource for immediate and long-term community development efforts. They also provide an invaluable resource for program planning and effective evaluation.
This experience I got from working with youth in the country and listening to the stories of young people who are driving change in their country, through the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Our efforts now are designed to bring and connect youth with organizations, and give them the civic roles that they have traditionally been excluded from.
It is our hope that increased awareness and civic engagement among our youth will be used to encourage them, in terms of their long-term involvement in community-wide efforts designed to enhance local well-being.
In conclusion, I will say this: Let us join hands to ensure the future of young people, by creating a platform to expose them to positive examples of civic engagement, and ways to stay connected and informed about what is happening in their community and society, at large. Let us promote interactions and partnerships among youth, for learning and knowledge sharing, while addressing common issues affecting the youth sector, at national, regional and international level.
*Contact Possibility Thinkers at firstname.lastname@example.org or +26481 478 5136
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