Pius Bigirimana has called for investment in education, skills development, health and access to capital
Pandemonium broke out on Dec. 16, 2016 when enraged youth disrupted the launch of the Uganda Youth Policy in Kampala.
It was a horrible spectacle as youth violently protested the presence of the elderly Deputy Prime Minister Kirunda Kivejinja, saying they needed a youthful person to preside over their function.
It all started with the new State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Nakiwala Kiyingi, saying “the youth have suffered for so long.”
She further said the youth would not continue to tolerate the situation in which they are, an emotional address that saw several youth emerge from one corner to disrupt the function.
ChimpReports is informed that an investigation into the incident is underway, with Nakiwala being accused of masterminding the plot.
“Everything was moving smoothly until Nakiwala took to the podium. There is no doubt this was their plan – to mess up this function,” said an investigator who preferred anonymity so as to speak freely.
The fist fight exposed the vulnerability and frustration among the young people.
Desperate for jobs and sources of livelihoods, the youth population (18-30 years) currently constitutes 22.7 percent (53.4 percent female and 46.6 percent males).
Youth contribute 26.7 percent of total labour force.
However, 53.4 percent of youth are unemployed. 95 percent of the employed youth are self-employed.
46 percent of young women and 42 percent of young men in the age group of 15-19 are sexually active making Uganda the third country in the world with highest teenage pregnancy rate of 24.5 percent.
Interestingly, the level of youth participation in the development process is still low.
Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, said bottlenecks to youth participation include mindset and attitudes of the youth, gender discrimination and socio – cultural and legal constraints – some of which regard youth as too young and inexperienced to participate in the decision making process.
“Lack of options to invest in youth compels them to adopt negative coping strategies like drug and substance abuse, anti social and risky behaviors that can disturb peace of community and the country as a whole,” said Bigirimana at Kampala Serena Hotel during the launch of the Uganda National Youth Policy.
“There is therefore need to invest in education, skills development, health and access to capital. The Uganda National Youth Policy provides a framework for investing in youth development and empowerment,” he added.
The majority of employed youth live in rural areas, where at least 70 percent are engaged in agriculture.
It is hoped that Uganda’s youthful population can either yield a demographic dividend for social and human capital development or become a time bomb.
High unemployment rates, poverty and frustration triggered revolutions in North Africa, leaving a trail of bloodshed and destruction.
Similarly, the youth in Uganda still face numerous socio-economic, cultural and political challenges that constrain their meaningful participation in development.
This undermines Government’s efforts to achieve social transformation and attain a middle income status by 2020.
Although the National Youth Policy 2001 guided stakeholders in youth development to address youth concerns, it did not provide a clear coordination strategy.
Lack of comprehensive and up to – date youth policy led to fragmentation and uncoordinated interventions.
As a result, there is duplication, incoherence and wastage of resources, thus limited impact of youth development programs.
According to Bigirimana, the Uganda National Youth Policy 2016 seeks to fill the gap and strengthen service delivery to the young people
The Policy has a five year action plan which focuses on pursuing sustainable livelihoods, employment promotion and enterprise development; promoting skills training and entrepreneurship development; strengthening youth participation and governance and; Improving access to resources and services.
The recently introduced Youth Livelihood Programme also focuses on: skills Development, livelihood, institutional support, green jobs (decent jobs), safety and health at work, energy and raw materials efficiency, minimizing waste and industrial pollution.
The programme also intends to protect and restore ecosystems, provide an answer to persistent absence of linkage between what is taught at school and what is required, work-place based skilling apprenticeship, informal sector support (Jua Kalis) and establishment of industrial business shelters.
Bigirimana revealed that the new policy promotes original individual creativity, skills and talents with potential for wealth and job creation such as: Performing and visual arts, audio, visual and interactive media, art and crafts, design and creative services, cultural tourism and heritage.
Other targeted areas are sports, leisure and games as a source of employment.
He also spoke briefly about the National Youth Service Scheme, saying it provides a “framework for mobilization and empowerment of youth to appreciate and participate in the transformation process of the country.”
The Permanent Secretary said focus will be on addressing the mindset and attitudes of the young people and improving their employability and participation in community projects.
The youth policy further seeks to foster a better understanding of youth issues and providing a basis for a holistic approach to addressing youth challenges.
This includes accelerating transformation of the country to a middle income status.
During a recent meeting of lawmakers at Imperial Royale Hotel, several MPs called for scrutiny of government projects.
They further warned against excitement during implementation.
Pressed to explain how he would ensure value for money, Bigirimana said government is keen on measuring the percentage of youth in gainful employment; survival rate of youth small and medium enterprises (SMEs); proportion of youth participating in development initiatives and percentage of youth participating in governance.
Bigirimana stressed that government intends to support implementation of the policy through: intense dissemination at national, regional and district levels; mainstreaming youth issues in sectoral plans and programs; ensuring inclusion, involvement and participation of youth in planning and implementation of programs; and initiating policy interventions in transparent and accountable manner where youth play active roles.
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