|Gambia's Vice President Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy speaking at the official opening of the NaYCONF 2012 on Thursday (Photo Credit: Gambia Sports News Online)|
“Over the years, the situation of Gambian youths has significantly shifted from one of despondency to one of hope and progress,” says the country’s Vice President Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy.
Such despondency, according to Njie-Saidy, arose from issues such as “restricted employment opportunities, inadequate and poorly equipped schools at the basic and secondary levels, and inaccessibility to university education in and outside the country.”
It also arose from rampant corruption, nepotism and favoritism that led to marginalization of some sections of the Gambian community, and frustrations emanating from injustice and inefficient public institutions and structures, she admitted.
She was speaking on Thursday Jan. 4, 2013 in the provincial town of Bansang, Central River Region of The Gambia where she official opened the 10th Edition of the National Youth Conference and Festival (NaYCONF 2012).
“Directing and re-orienting youth participation towards the productive sectors of the economy” is the theme of the event, to which she said must include education and training, as well as acquisition of skills and competencies for efficient application or utilization of existing knowledge, technology and the limited resources.
She said the theme calls for situating the youth within the development equation of the country, vis-à-vis, the role or the importance of the productive sectors in economic growth and development.
She said in the course of 2013, skills training will be expanded and diversified with the establishment of the Ndemban Skills Centre, urging the youth of the country to renewed partnership with the Government - a partnership from which they will envisage and ask for every meaningful positive attitudinal change.
Online or distance learning courses are now provided in the country, in addition to traditional modes of course delivery, both of which will be scaled up to assure quality, registration and accreditation procure for institutions of higher learning will be instituted, she added.
The Minister of Youths and Sport Mr. Alieu K. Jammeh demand that the youths come out of ghettoes and resist the fantasy of instant success of the “Babylon syndrome” (the believe that success can only be attained by traveling to Europe or America) and illegal migration.
He charged them to defeat dependency, and rather accept to toil harder and join hands with government in its collective national development endeavors.
Over the years, the NaYCONF has progressed from being a mainly sports jamboree to incorporate a conference component that avails stakeholders in youth development a platform where tangible programmes and activities are proposed for the positive engagement of the youth in national development, he noted.
He also argued: “The usual excuses of not doing anything because of lack of opportunities are inexcusable because it is true that we, the youths, with only some effort and perseverance, can become successful fisherman, agriculturists, bakers, tailors, or petty traders.”
Lack of employment
The Chairperson of National Youths Council (NYC) Mr. Fabakary Kalleh said: “We must as youths understand that we have a fundamental responsibility in the development of the Gambia and this cannot happen without our participation in trades like agriculture, fishing, or skills acquisitions.”
“No country can develop if the youth, the productive sector of the population, is not willing or prepared to partake in the productive sectors of the economy,” said Mr. Kalleh who is also Chairperson of National Organizing Committee of the NaYCONF.
He also admitted that the NYC and the whole country are faced with the lack of employment among the youth – one of the challenges of youths the country is still battling to address.
In our quest to find a possible solution to this challenge, the NYC is establishing an initiative for supporting the productive sectors (like agriculture) of the economy, he said.
“NYC plan to restructure organisation and hosting of the NAYCONF upon approval by the delegates,” he revealed. “Biding for NAYCONF will be done every four years and regions that express interest in hosting the event will have to provide a piece of land and contribute up to 10% of the cost for the construction of a NAYCONF Village. The host region will request the government and development partners to support this initiative.”
The Governor of the host region (CRR) Mr. Ganyi Touray reiterated that Gambian youth must take advantage of the opportunities provided to them by the government.
He also urges them to make best use of the conference component of the NaYCONF and come up with tangible recommendations that will benefit the young people of the country.
Since 1994 the government of President Jammeh has make youths empowerment a top development agenda. Lots of job opportunities (like GAMJOB, NYSS) have being provided, he claimed.
More than 1500 youths, 12 cabinet ministers, regional governors, ambassadors, national assembly members, service chiefs, chairpersons of area councils, and national women mobilizers joined the host town at the opening ceremony, local journalist Sulayman Ceesay in Bansang told The North Bank Evening Standard.
Resolutions not implemented
The event is ending on Jan. 9, 2013 and will culminate with a resolution that should serve as a guide to addressing challenges facing the youths.
In the past, youth advocates have criticized the NYC and the Government for not fully implementing most of the recommendations made at previous event.
But the Executive Secretary of the NYC dispel the criticism when he spoke to a daily newsletter (NaYCONF Daily) published by the NYC at the event.
“Some people pretend to know when they really don't know. Some of the resolutions have been implemented by the government and the council,” he claimed. “The fact of the matter is that most of the resolutions have been worked on.”
He noted a previous resolution demanded a young people representative at the National Assembly, saying: “As you know we have succeeded in having a youth representative in the National Assembly."
He also argued the NYC was established upon the recommendation of a NaYCONF resolution.
Written by Modou S. Joof