This past Friday, President Mokgweetsi Masisi aka the “Jobs President” received his first jobs related petition through the Basic Education minister Bagalatia Arone.
The five pages petition was delivered by unemployed graduate teachers who prior to that had walked over 200 kilometres from Mahalapye to Gaborone to raise awareness on their “pains and problems”.
Before we go any further with this commentary, we wish to congratulate the group as led by the youthful Kesaobaka Ditsheke for the Friday achievement. It takes boldness and courage to organise such kind of events. The state can be brutal and anything might have happened to them along the way.
Ditsheke and his group probably subscribe to the notion that education remains one of the best investments that government and citizens can make. It is education that helps countries to develop human capital that will end extreme poverty. Without quality education, our country is at risk of falling behind as we could face an acute shortage of essential skills if that’s not the case already.
Ditsheke might be unknown to many but he has reminded the youth of this country that without a united collective voice there is always limited pressure on leaders to engage beyond rhetoric. A collective voice provide a coherent message on behalf of the youth and as such we commend Ditsheke and committee for having found the courage to risk with their lives and raise awareness about the man-made problems they are facing.
That is why we see the need to encourage other trained professionals who are roaming the streets to follow suits and petition the government as well. These include but not limited to hundreds of nurses as well as thousands media related graduates who have been jobless for close of ten years now. It pains to be reminded that even trained accountants have been left with no option but settle for the exploitive internship programme run by MYSC.
As we write this commentary, tens of thousands of our young people have been swallowed by the sea or abandoned in the desert, in pursuit of a decent life for which they are prepared to risk everything because they believe there is no hope here at home. We do not want this trend to continue.
On Friday Basic Education minister Bagalatia Arone acknowledged the urgent need to address the economic exclusion that the youth of this country are facing.
Unfortunately, as promising as all the previous pledges made by the government sound, they suffer from lack of implementation. In many cases the outcome of such pledges is usually quick fix solutions such as internship and Tirelo Sechaba, nothing sustainable.
We therefore need to remind the ‘Jobs President’ that despite the usual electioneering, focus must now shift to fixing all the other issues that continue to threaten the country’s well-being. At the top of the list, as President Masisi is aware is joblessness and poverty.
As we all might be aware, this is the second group to petition the government on the monster that is unemployment. The first group made its attempts two years back but were unsuccessful due to the whipping they were subjected to by the brutal Police. We hope such a bad response by the state remains with the past administration not the new one. Days of scaring people when they raise crucial concerns about their lives cannot be found in a democratic set up.
It is tear-jerking to watch huge populations of youth being disgorged from colleges and universities on a yearly basis without hope of gainful integration into the economy.
That is why we require boldness in action and a firm admission from the government enclave that what we have been trying to do has simply not worked for us.
We also need to remind the youth of this country once again that the fragmentation and weakness amongst them undermines the cause of furthering their economic development as well as wealth creation for the next generation. As we speak, apart from political youth leagues and organs, there is no collective voice that might at least provide a coherent message on behalf of the youth of this country outside political parties. As a result, there is limited pressure on leaders to engage beyond the rhetoric. Arone can say whatever he said on Friday and get away with it.
But of course the buck stops with the leadership of this country and it is up to them to go beyond rhetoric and finally invest in the next generation of leaders.
Another take home message from the Friday petition is that it is critical for the Government, in partnership with the private sector, to ensure that the quality of learning taking place in the country. This will ensure the nation’s future economic competitiveness is where we desire it to be. This could be partially achieved by reducing the teacher ÔÇô students’ ratio as suggested by the unemployed teacher graduates on Friday.
The #Bottomline is that the young people of this country need to realise that they too, have a responsibility to ensure that their collective voice is heard by those in power. With a collective voice they could create the right opportunities for the next generations.