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  • Ignoring the youth at our peri 24 June 2015 | View comments

  • Who is in charge of grooming up the young generation to become responsible citizens?

    Who should lay the foundation which endows the youth with the ethical and psychological attributes necessary to enable it succeed their predecessors? Obviously the main actors are parents, the community, schools, religious institutions, civil society organizations, and the government. If one were to ask how these stakeholders  are faring in terms of discharging their obligations and what the situation is like on the ground in Ethiopia insofar as the endeavor to capacitate the youth is concerned, he would very much be troubled by the fate awaiting the youth of the country. 

    If sending the youth to school is regarded as the sole measure of success, this would constitute a grave mistake. Both graduates who are ready to join the labor market or to set up their own businesses or have already to do so are faced with a raft of  worrisome problems which prevent them from fulfilling their potential and contributing their share to the nation’s development. The following are the major challenges confronting the youth in Ethiopia.

    Shortage of sports and reading facilities 

    Sports and reading are undeniably important for the physical and intellectual development of the youth. Sadly there is a woeful dearth of sports facilities and libraries throughout the country. On the other hand, establishments where the youth imbibe alcohol, take drugs, gamble and fornicate are mushrooming around schools and workplaces. The disastrous effect this is bound to have down the line if it is left unchecked should alarm all Ethiopians.

    Proliferation of factors driving migration

    The youth are migrating abroad in their droves in search of a better life while they should be living a decent life in their country. There are a raft of factors which impel the youth to take a perilous journey arranged by people smugglers over land and on the sea included. These include, but are not limited to, lack of opportunity to pursue higher education, unavailability of jobs for university graduates, inadequate nourishment and housing, absence of social security, and bad governance.

    We should, as a nation, agonize over the fact that our youth undergo the suffering associated with illegal migration owing to the existence of an unfabourable environment. To elabor the downsides of migration is pointless; what is required is the implementation of policies which render unnecessary migration as an option.

    It is, therefore, imperative to reflect on why more and more youth decide to embark on a journey that could cost them their very lives regardless of the news about the terrible fate of fellow citizens who chose to tread the same path. As a nation we should be extremely apprehensive when the youth eye, either of their own volition or through peer pressure, migration as the sole way out of the predicament they find themselves in. Irrespective of the reasons the youth choose to migrate en masse, it is incumbent upon the government and other stakeholders as well to put a stop to a phenomenon which is forcing us to hang our head in shame. 

    Failure to invest in the youth

    Investing in the youth basically means producing morally sound citizens. Though the task of doing so primarily lies on the shoulders of the government, the community and other stakeholders also bear this responsibility. If the environment in which the youth live and work in is to foster their overall development, we should not leave for tomorrow the task of  expanding significantly the number of sports arenas and libraries while shutting down the places where the youth engage in practices which are not only morally repugnant, but also distract them from the solemn duties awaiting them. 

    When the youth are empowered, they will be able to contribute positively to the betterment of their lot and that of the community as well, thereby making the country’s future rosier. When it comes to investing in the youth those who claim to have social and corporate responsibility, such as financial institutions, industries, service providers, civil society organizations and the like, should be at the forefront. The government’s role in this regard is to coordinate the efforts of these entities, who will surely get a return if and when they invest in the youth. 

    It’s the country which stands to benefit when the youth become steeped in the morality and knowledge which enables them to be effective at whatever they do. A youth who knows its rights will appreciate his obligations well as well. A youth who inquires, who thinks critically, will not be driven by emotion. It’s in the interest of the nation to refrain from dumping on the market a young person who had received minimal education and instead imbue them with the necessary  skills.  That is why it is vitally important to invest in the youth.

    Presently, countless  young people are not pursuing their education calmly due to the fact that they are not provided with the support they seek. Meanwhile, those who completed their education after much hardship earn an income that barely allows them to eke out a miserable existence; since they are not imparted with entrepreneurial skills, they find life difficult. The ordeal they are subjected to makes it impossible for them not to despair and resort to the hazardous migration that many of their compatriots have turned to. If we are serious about wanting the youth to walk with their heads held high, to thrive in whatever they are involved in, to ensure that they are the hopes of the nation, etc., we should invest in them. Failure to do so will have disastrous consequences that we shall regret forever

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