When I was reading the State of the Nation address by His Excellency Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama President of the Republic of Botswana to the first session of the tenth parliament, I was very happy to see his renewed determination in recognizing the importance of investing in youth by availing income generating opportunities for us.
Soon, I guess, youth delegates or reps will start delivering official statements on behalf of the youth in their districts as is happening in other countries.
I see the establishment of the Youth Department as an effort to give voice to the issues, opinions, thoughts, hopes and dreams of Botswana’s young people.
I cannot wait to see the contents of the new “National Action Plan for Youth”.
Ever since reading the speech, I have had a strong feeling that opportunities for us young people to benefit from development are expanding in Botswana. We, as youth, have, for a long time, been facing many constraints and challenges that hindered our smooth transition to adulthood, participation in the development and involvement in democratic and social processes in our beloved country.
The speech signals that this is the time to make strategic investments in us and we, as youth, should seize this opportune moment.
Government has availed quite a lot of programmes and projects like CEDA, Youth Development Fund, Young Farmers Fund, Youth Industries projects, Recreation and Youth Centers, Business Mentoring for young entrepreneurs, to mention but a few.
These investments targets the large numbers of young people today and will not only improve the wellbeing of a large generation of young people, but will also produce long lasting benefits for the social and economic development of our country and respective districts. We speak of Millennium Development Goals of which I believe the ability to achieve them is directly linked to our government’s progress in improving young people’s health, education and socio-economic opportunities.
The part that I found interesting is where Rre Khama talked about “provision of high density and multi-residential houses for the youth, as well as bachelor flats for first time home owners and employees”.
I am positive that this move will build up confidence among the youth who are just entering the marketplace. I must admit that I am also excited about the introduction of the competency based human resource management system to focus recruitment, development and progression of public officers on results and competencies, rather than solely on qualifications and long service.
I have realized that in the past it took somebody to retire from public service due to old age to relinquish the position they held for many decades and these posts were never handed down to someone new and young.
Youth have an abundance of energy, which, when harnessed, makes even the most difficult tasks seem effortless. They have a fresh commitment to yet another word that coincidentally begins with the letter D ÔÇô delivery. In all road safety public speeches I have made I have always said that we ought never to underestimate the importance of youth. People are most impressionable in their early days and that which influences them, has a lasting effect, for good or bad. I think the National Internship program also works wonders.
Accepting young people into the workforce in order to learn all about the business they’re getting into and letting them shadow those with more experience is helping.
Here Rre Khama is building a generation of youth who will become a new breed of leaders that can handle the constantly changing world around them. I am impressed by the fact that most of the beneficiaries of the program have already found permanent employment and I can rest assured that those who haven’t will get theirs sooner rather than later.
As for politics, close to 50% of all specially nominated councilors positions have been allocated to the youth; it’s a first for this country.
Our youth leadership will also sit down and have discussions with youth advocates and as a result we might be able to find a way to stimulate youth leadership as well as produce a productive group of responsible citizens. Letsema le bolotse, it is a very important thing for the youth of our nation to learn to be leaders and to start to plan for a successful future of our country.
Everyone should believe in us, for there are so many responsible young people out there and of course maarogi a teng who need help and if nobody tries to help our next generation of leaders, it could lead to disaster.
Change occurs when action is taken to make circumstances different. Helping youth identify what needs to change aids in their discovery of how to change it. For example this country is awash with many youth who have a spirit of volunteering which needs only cultivation.
To promote acts of goodwill, we can visit nursing homes (Home Based Care), and if everyone focuses on the good that they see in us and encourage it we are ready to change Botswana for the people with which we share this country.
This is so because we have the power to influence our generation to make our communities better.
It’s my wish that mechanisms are put in place to provide a chance to assess how effectively the current government is responding to this important youth development challenge, as that will help in identifying any gaps that may exist in its youth development endeavors.
To promote information sharing on activities an interactive website which will serve as an information source to young people and in helping each and every visitor to understand more about all youth programs there are in Botswana and allow them to participate at their highest level should be created.
In conclusion, I want to call upon the government to put in place a system that will fully support the development of all youth movements, cooperate with and assist these youth-led organizations. These help us as young people as they integrate youth concerns into HIV/AIDS, road accidents, alcohol abuse and poverty reduction strategies in Botswana; and enhance capacity to deal effectively with issues related to social ills. I have always said that, and I repeat, being young people ourselves, we know what is on the minds of our peers, their likes and dislikes and the kind of messages that will reach them. Thank you!
*Gabatlhaolwe is a World Youth Ambassador for Road Safety and a Master Student of International Relations in Xiamen University, China and writes here on his personal capacity as a young Motswana.