“Transforming Education” was this year’s theme for the International Youth Day that is celebrated across the world on August 12.
Growing up, all I heard regarding education is that it was the key to success. Being educated carried many assumptions, it meant that you have been empowered to empower the next generation. You have been empowered to make impact in your community and the world.
You have been empowered to improve the economic, social and political landscape by making sound and insightful decisions. Education’s purpose is to empower one to be innovative and help them come up with sustainable solutions to better the World for the unborn and ourselves.
It is, however, saddening and demotivating when you learn of the astronomical numbers of unemployed youth. According to the World Bank, Kenya's unemployment rate increased to 9.31 percent in December 2018, from the previously reported number of 9.29 percent in December 2017. This means that over six million youth do not have jobs.
The data reached an all-time high of 10.10 percent in December 2003 and a record low of 8.90 percent in Dec 1991.
We have many players in the education sector offering academic and professional training. In the recent times, there has been a shift and there is a need to offer more than technical skills. As a result, we have non-formal learning opportunities.
Approximately one million young Africans have gone through some form of leadership initiative with a percentage of them as serial fellows, meaning they have been to two or more leadership programs.
These youth organisations are empowering the young people with soft skills that are a necessity in personal growth, employment, entrepreneurship and public management.
The youth organisations like the US Government funded YALI Regional Leadership Centre East Africa, Mandela Washington Fellowship and many more are churning out thousands of young leaders who have gone through transformational leadership training to be the much needed change in Africa. These young leaders have the vision to transform the African continent and make it better for forthcoming generations.
We have terms like ‘Africa Rising’ and ‘Change Makers’ to describe the revolution that we envision to better the economic, social and political impact of this great continent. This will be achieved if the youth are given a chance at an education as this opens up their mind to a myriad of opportunities. Youth organisations that offer leadership development programmes invite dreaming and thinking differently to define and realise one’s potential. They usually offer a wholesome approach in the education philosophy incorporating personal, leadership and sector transformation.
Youth capacity development is linked to the impact in the society. All they need is a chance at education and a seat at the table. 50 year olds cannot be making decisions affecting the youth without involving the youth. You cannot make an omelette without eggs. It will not work. The youth need to make meaningful contributions to issues affecting Africa.
They need a seat at the table to determine their future and be part of the process by giving fresh insight. When you interact with the young leaders, you will be intrigued by the innovations, solutions and perspectives they have. They just need to be involved and offered support, which does not have to be monetary. This will help them rise to their full potential.
The late Nelson Mandela hit the nail on the head when he said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
With proper education imparted to the youth, they can become productive, broad-minded, and ideal citizens of the society. The domino effect would be felt for years to come and passed on to others. Education is about not only the past and present, but it is also the key to the future.
Eunice Chege is communications lead for YALI Regional Leadership Centre East Africa covering 14 countries in East and Central Africa.