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Unlocking youth potential imperative in transforming Uganda

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Added 26th July 2017 11:16 AM

Quality education ought to be a public good which should be provided and accessed by all for equitable development of any country

Quality education ought to be a public good which should be provided and accessed by all for equitable development of any country

By Katherine Nabuzale

The youth like in many other developing countries around the world are increasingly finding themselves left behind or relegated to the sidelines either because they are working for a low wage, are under-employed or are simply unemployed. However, the potential of the youth as key influencers and shapers of their destiny can't be underrated. 

Globally, there are calls for increased opportunities for young people, the need to engage with them vis-vis the responsibility of institutions with the ultimate goal of exploring ways and means of promoting youth engagement in development and sustainable living. Nonetheless, these calls often miss a key point which is the central role of youth themselves in shaping their own present and future. Failure to offer them stimuli, motivation and opportunities for self realization compromises their potential. We seem to be indifferent to recognizing the positive contributions they can make in society. We are hesitant entrusting them and are slow at honoring our commitments and promises to them, yet the youth eagerly desire to be involved in their present and future. 

To harness the power of young people we must recognize their individual potential, acknowledge their contribution as well as emphasize their responsibilities. They must be encouraged and motivated to take action across all areas crucial for the implementation of the inclusive development agenda of our country. Such areas include but aren't limited to, constructive politics, sustainable business programs, civil society and academia. 

Youth platforms and spaces: There is commendable effort in giving the youth a voice, although more is needed in appreciation of their opinions and ideas. Furthermore, these youth forums need to reflect the diversity of all youth groups by involving the unheard lot like the disadvantaged rural youth. 

Promoting talent and innovation: No doubt, many youth are exceptionally talented, unfortunately the majority haven't been adequately supported to discover their talents and abilities. Supporting talent and innovation should be of urgent concern. For instance, promoting apprenticeships in places like ‘'Musa body of technology'' in Kampala Katwe. Supported talent and innovation are seen as a positive force for transformative change. This combination of youth talent and innovation has the prospective to create solutions to development challenges and to transform societies if systematically supported.

Reaching out to marginalised and disadvantaged young people: The general approach here is to regard young people as assets rather than problems and to work with them in responding to their needs, as well as interests, whilst seeking to capitalise on their creative and innovative competences. This positive outlook is important in enhancing young peoples' innovative and creative abilities in ways that are relevant to employability

In reference to UNDP's corporate youth strategy, Empowered Youth, sustainable future: In Uganda's context, this strategy seeks to re-echo the urgency for equal empowerment through an inclusive modal of education. To achieve vision 2020 middle income status, do away with the selective modal of education that has invaded the country leaving many perpetually un-empowered thus, denying them opportunities. Quality education ought to be a public good which should be provided and accessed by all for equitable development of any country.

Reaffirming belief among young people: By providing the youth with the much needed services. Take for example; tailored services like leadership and management skills, enterprise development, innovation and talent forums, experiential learning centres, educational awareness and advocacy initiatives shouldn't be a reserve of a selected few.

Recognition of non-formal learning: It is also necessary to recognise and value non-formal learning in a creative and innovative way capable of raising visibility of skills acquired outside the formal system of learning and fostering complementarity between the two while promoting equal opportunities.

The main message here is about the need to improve and widen the recognition of non-formal learning, and not just in relation to employability. Investment in training workers, who will intently stimulate the innovative and creative capacities within young people, is required. 

Young people are the future of our country therefore, the different sectors and stakeholders at all levels need to come together and provide a supportive and accountable environment for them to thrive as well as, succeed in their efforts.

As a guiding strategy for implementing youth programmes, focus should be centred on support, engagement, influence and sustainability for utmost results. 

Writer is a Ugandan living in Germany

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