Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flashback of NaYCONF 2008

The national youth conference and festival as it happened two years ago (Part 3)

In part three of our series of a flashback of the national youth conference and festival (NaYCONF 2008), with this year’s event due to kick-off on December 16 in the Kanifing Municipality, The Voice Newspaper’s News Editor Modou S. Joof reports on critical issues, among them the Resolution reached by parties to the NaYCONF 2008 held at the countryside town of Farafenni in the North Bank Region of The Gambia.
NYC funding inadequate
Delegates to the conference component of the NaYCONF called on the Government of The Gambia to increase its subvention to the national youth council (NYC) to enable if effectively run the programmes and activities of the country’s youth population.
The delegates also requested that the National Youth Policy be incorporated into other relevant policies, and that donor agencies and development partners to commit more resources to youth development.
Calls were also made for more efforts to be done in the implementation of the millennium development goals (MDGs), and also for the creation of more skills and vocational training centers across the country in order to improve the rate of acquisition of employable skills.

Unemployment still a concern
Unemployment, particularly among young people is a prevailing issue that solicits the efforts of every individual to address it, the executive director of the national youth service scheme Mr. Musa Mbaye said during the conference.
Creating employment for youths is critical in cutting down the poverty rates of the country; he said but noted that concerted efforts are needed to address the situation.
The project coordinator of the Big Lottery Fund of The Gambia said African countries are likely to face an increase in job pressure for youths over the coming decades. In a presentation on “Youth unemployment and sustainable livelihoods” Mr. Joseph Peacock said young people make up a great percentage of the world’s population and that eighty seven percent of them live in developing countries.
“In Africa, statistics has indicated that about 200 million people fall within this population accounting for up to 20 percent, but this is expected to increase rapidly because 42 percent of the current population is below 15 years of age,” he said.    
Secy Gomez applauds journalists
At a time when government-media relations was far from cordial, one wouldn’t have expect a senior government official hailing the efforts of media personnel towards the development of the country.
However, the Secretary of State for Youths and Sports at the time, Hon. Sheriff Gomez expressed appreciation on the pivotal role played by the Media in the success of the NaYCONF.
Hon Gomez, who walked into the Media Center, knows the constraints faced by the team of 20 journalists were facing in their effort to keep the country informed about the happenings of the event.
“I know your constraints but we need to strategise as the national organizing committee is short of funds,” he said.  Earlier on, shortcomings such as the inconsistency of electricity supply, feeding, and transportation were highlighted by the editorial board of the NaYCONF Daily newsletter, which was printed by Kanteh Studio (publisher of The Eye newsletter).
Farafenni 2008 NaYCONF Resolution
Youths from the seven (7) administrative municipalities and regions of The Gambia, their friends from the sub-region and the Diaspora, who were gathered in Farafenni from December 18-22, 2008, resolve to take their rightful roles in the development process of the nation, looking ahead to the attainment of Vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015.
“We follow up on the Declaration adopted at the Brikama Conference in December 2006, the National Youth Policy 1999-2008 and the programme of action and other related documents,” they agreed. 
According to them, the commit themselves to take concrete and effective action to address the challenges facing youths in The Gambia, including but not limited to; illegal migration, youth unemployment, drugs and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
They also acknowledge that the resolution herein agreed will require continued high-level political will, commitment and support, advocacy and coordinated donor ands stakeholder support at all levels.
Monitor and evaluate implementation
We resolve to periodically assess qualitatively as well as quantitatively, our collective progress in implementing the agreed resolution and for the Government to provide appropriate guidance to establish baselines and to enable consistent aggregation of information. 
Partnerships commitments
The Resolution called on the NYC to disseminate and popularize the national youth policy and African Youth Charter through various media channels; promote awareness campaigns, educational programmes and actions on the MDGs; engage children and youths in meaningful and critical examination of their own negative actions and attitudes towards livelihood skills and enterprises.
Establish by March 31, 2009 a taskforce to develop a programmatic framework for the effective implementation, coordination and monitoring of the progress on the implementation of the 2008 NaYCONF Resolution.
To develop and market sound project proposals for the active and meaningful participation of youths in agriculture and fisheries for sustainable livelihood; establish by 2009 links between international youth organizations and their Gambian counterpart for cultural and educational visits and exchanges; establish a Children National Assembly of The Gambia by December 31, 2009 to promote to participation of children in national issues.
Lobby for the UN System in The Gambia to create the position of UN Youth Officer to coordinate the implementation of all UN supported programmes and projects; adequate land allocations for youth-related development projects and enhance young people’s leadership capabilities and promote mentorship.
To The Gambia Government
The Resolution calls for the adoption of legislative measures to advance the rights of women and girls in compliance with international obligations; ensure greater participation of women and girls in decision-making at all levels.
Increase the subvention of the NYC to enable it effectively carryout its programmes and activities; ensure that strategic development partners and donors conduct youth impact assessment of their youth related development programmes; ratify the African Youth Charter and harmonise it with domestic legislations and policies; provide land to the NYC for the construction of a permanent secretariat with financial support for this purpose.
Increase the incentives of teachers and health workers for their retention in the education and public health sector; accelerate and increase financial, technical and other assistance to youth-led initiatives at regional, district and village levels, through existing multi-lateral, regional and bilateral programmes to address poverty, unemployment and dependency.
The Resolution also urges the Government of The Gambia to review the education and training curricula of the Department of State for Basic and Secondary Education to include entrepreneurial and livelihood skills training for self-employment.
To increase efforts in addressing the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents through the development of a holistic national child protection system that will protect children from all forms of abuse and violence.
Establish by 2010, an effective and accessible system for reporting, follow-up and support for child victims of suspected or actual incidents of sexual exploitation, for example, by instituting mandatory reporting for people in positions of responsibility for the welfare of children.
Review the NYC Act 2000 to capture the emerging trends of young people of The Gambia and clearly spell out the role of the NYC; establish an inter-ministerial committee on youths and strengthen youth focal persons to enhance mainstreaming; establish a national commission for children to coordinate the popularization, monitoring and implementation of the Children’s Act 2005 and other child rights international legal instruments; and establish a Department of State for Children Affairs and provide financial support for the follow-up of this resolution.
Bilateral and Multi-lateral institutions to;
Fulfill pledges and commitments made in international development for a for the fulfillment of the MDGs; commit more resources into youth initiated programmes and activities for sustainable employment and development; review macro-economic and poverty reduction strategies with a view to supporting countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
“We the delegates at the NaYCONF 2008 Conference commit ourselves individually and as representatives of the many youth and children organizations and groups in The Gambia to the most effective follow-up to this Resolution.”
At the regional level, inter alia, by annually reporting to the Regional Youth Committees on activities and programmes implemented and promoting/initiating discussions on the MDGs and other development issues; and for the national youth council (NYC) and its structures to provide periodic reports to youth and children organizations and other stakeholders on progress made in the execution of the resolution and its mandate.
In our fourth and final part of our series of NaYCONF 2008, we will look into the sport, cultural display, drama and fanfare.

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