Parliamentary seminar on youth and children draws to close

The Parliamentary seminar tackling integration of youth issues in the region ended in Nairobi today with a call on regional Parliaments to develop long term vision for youth empowerment. At the same time, Parliamentarians must involve the young people whilst promoting regional integration and mobilize the age group to endorse the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the level of their organizations and communities.

Parliamentarians were further tasked to set benchmarks that promote equal opportunities for the girl child and to enact legislation that stimulate economic development in relation to youth empowerment.

The two day seminar (April 27-28, 2012) themed “Towards Parliamentary Action for Integration of Children and Youth in East African Societies” was attended by legislators from the EALA, SADC-PF and ECOWAS Parliaments. In attendance also were Parliamentarians from Sweden and Ireland.

The legislators also called on the private and public sectors to avail more opportunities to the youth in order to develop their skills and enable them gain accessibility to income. In that regard, the seminar urged national development agencies to promulgate employment and to avail funding for youth driven initiatives and business incubation support which they termed as vital value chains.

The seminar was informed that in South Africa, a national youth policy framework was in place and that a National Youth Act had been instituted in 2008 to cater for the youth.

“In varying degrees, young people must be engaged to stimulate their development. We must look at existing legislation and encourage legislators to provide oversight in existing programmes”, Michael Sudarkasa, Chief Executive Officer of the South African Based Africa Business Group noted

EALA Member, Hon Safina Kwekwe said that the Assembly would continue to ensure the provisions of the EAC Treaty that address youth and marginalized groups are adhered to. She called for the establishment of an EAC Youth Initiative, a network she added would be an outfit bringing together all the aspirations of the youth under one umbrella.

‘From the legislative standpoint, a comprehensive youth development policy leading to an Act in the EAC region is necessary’, Hon Kwekwe remarked.

Another strategy, legislators said, would revolve around enhancing the visibility of young people in national and regional issues so as to influence the integration of youth policies into the agenda via open fora.

On education, the legislators called for the immediate reform of the education systems to make them more relevant by ensuring official training institutes offered modules responding to vocational needs of the youth. Such a move, they reiterated would ensure flexible training programmes were offered responding to capacity and availability of youth who work or run businesses.

EALA Speaker, Rt. Hon Abdirahin Abdi opened the Seminar yesterday. In his remarks, the Speaker urged the EAC region and the globe to ensure issues of children and the youth come to the fore and remain central to development. Such a move the Speaker noted would trigger progress towards realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Seminar was organized by EALA in collaboration with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA).

Source: East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) – 30 April 2012