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How to change the plight of millions of destitute Ugandan youth

By KASOZI ABDU KARIM

ABOUT THE ARTICLE: Members of the Inter-Part Youth Platform met late June and proposed interventions for mitigating the socio-political misfortunes that account for the wretchedness of young men and women in Uganda.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY: Kasozi Abdu Karim is Coordinator of Inter-Part Youth Platform.

The Interparty Party Youth Platform (IYOP) with support from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) held the first ever national interparty youth conference in Uganda since the introduction of the multiparty system of governance.

This four day conference held 27 – 30 July at Essella Country Hotel in Wakiso had a guiding theme, for youth, by youth.

The IYOP – being a cooperation framework of the youth leagues of seven major political parties in Uganda, including the CP, DP, FDC, JEEMA, NRM, PPP and UPC – chose this theme because it reflected and suggested viable solutions to the challenges the youth face and which can only be identified by the youth themselves.

For quite some time, young people have taken a backseat in the agenda setting and policy formulation and sometimes are even used as rubber stumps in Uganda. The consequence of this phenomenon is that the political, economic and social needs of young people have increasingly been neglected during the past decades.

In consideration of the major challenges affecting young people in contemporary Uganda, the conference focused on the following three sub-themes to identify policy gaps for necessary intervention: Youth and Economic Empowerment, Youth and Political participation and Youth and social services.

As it had been the first high-profiled conference for young leaders across various parties, the objective was to provide a platform for young leaders from different political parties to interface with their contemporaries in civil society, parliament, education institutions, media and the national youth council.

Following the official launch of the conference by the sitting IYOP-Chairperson Cecilia Anyakoit, Dr. Angelika Klein and Mr. Nicolas De Torrente’ of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Democratic Governance Facility respectively, youth leaders from the seven political party youth wings participating in the conference gave their respective speeches, stating their specific party position on the selected sub-themes. This was followed by a keynote address on “confronting the development challenges of the youth in  Uganda, the role of young political leaders” delivered by Associate Prof. Yasin Olum from Department of Political Science, Makerere University.

Then over 100 young leaders who attended the event were divided into three groups, each handing a sub-theme as a thematic area.  These sub-groups were facilitated by a youth:  Youth and Political Participation was facilitated by Ms. Isabella Akiteng from the Green Light Movement; Youth and Economic Empowerment by Mr. Ahmed Hadji of African Youth Development Link; and Youth and Social Services by Ms. Perry Alitua from the Women in Development Network.

After this exercise a plenary session to discuss presentations from the group results followed, consisting of Mr. Emmanuel Kitamirike (Executive Director Uganda Youth Network), Mr. Samuel Kavuma (Chairman Uganda National Youth Council) and Hon. Proscovia Alengot, Member of Parliament representing Usuk County.

This session was moderated by Mr. Kiranda Yusuf, Programme Manager KAS. Other plenary sessions followed the discussions and revision of group papers based on the inputs from the first plenary. The presentation of the final group papers, and the presentation and discussion of the draft communiqué were moderated by Mr. Emmy Otim, the Coordinator for Programme for Young Politicians in Africa.

As an expected output of the conference the Ugandan youth leaders made a series of own commitments and put forward sets of recommendations for improving the political, economic and social situation of the youth in Uganda. Presented in a conference communiqué the resolutions include:

Economic Empowerment

Young Leaders Call Upon:

·         Parliament to make priority budget allocations to the strengthening of Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) through providing for salaries, infrastructure and the necessary tools and equipment;

·         the Ministry of Education to reassume its role in promoting national identity through education by posting students to regions outside their home areas;

·         Parliament, the Ministry of Education and civil society organisations to reform secondary and tertiary curricula to integrate and promote vocational courses;

·         the Ministry of Education, training institutes, business leaders and private sector associations to build partnerships to give students opportunities for practical training and design training programmes tailored to meet labour market needs;

·         the government to support the Uganda Bureau of Statistics in carrying out a national manpower survey;

·         Parliament to enact a law giving incentives to foreign-owned companies based on the proportion of Ugandans they employ vis-à-vis non-Ugandans;

·         the government to strengthen the implementation of laws and policies regulating the employment of foreign managers;

·         the government to give incentives to young entrepreneurs to encourage the growth of their business and companies;

·         Parliament to review the youth venture capital funds guidelines and restructure them to make them more youth-friendly;

·         the government to strengthen its monitoring mechanism and tracking systems of Ugandans working abroad;

·         the government and civil society to set up and rehabilitate skills centres to promote youth talents and skills;

·         Parliament to make budgetary allocations to attract and empower youth in agriculture;

·         civil society organisations and government to encourage and supervise youth cooperatives;

·         the government to give full powers to an independent oil and gas authority that exercises full transparency in oil and gas governance;

·         the government and local councils to enforce labour rights;

·         Parliament to enact a minimum wage policy and laws;

·         the government to structure the legal framework for student loan schemes so that they can be successfully implemented; and

·         civil society to strengthen trade unions.

 

Political Participation

Young Leaders Call Upon:

·         civil society organisations and development partners to support capacity-building in the Interparty Youth Platform (IYOP) and National Youth Council (NYC) focusing on information access, ideology and social platforms;

·         the government and Parliament to amend and operationalise the Political Parties and Organizations Act to achieve fair and equitable funding for political parties;

·         the government to make civic education compulsory, timely and continuous;

·         youth leaders and development partners to liaise with IYOP on youth-related issues;

·         Parliament, the government and civil society organisations to review the status of special interest groups in Parliament;

·         Parliament to amend the National Youth Council Act from a system of Electoral College to introduce adult suffrage; and

·         the government and civil society organisations to increase funding for the NYC.

 

Social Services – Health and Youth at Risk

Young Leaders Call Upon:

·         the National Curriculum Development Centre to update the primary school curriculum to include topics on vulnerable youth groups to ensure that it accounts for the current realities of the youth;

·         the relevant Ministries to integrate into guidelines for senior women teachers, senior male teachers and counsellors information on vulnerable youth groups;

·         the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and civil society organisations to construct rehabilitation centres and remand homes at sub-regional level as well as improving existing services;

·         youth-focused civil society organisations to streamline youth advocacy based on countrywide research mapping the focus areas of youth-targeted interventions;

·         all youth to assume personal responsibility for family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention;

·         the government to support all vulnerable youth groups with scholastic materials and other educational costs;

·         youth civil society organisations and the government to ensure that all national youth activities and public institutions are inclusive of, and accessible for, all vulnerable youth groups;

·         all Ugandans to change their mindset towards corruption and begin to fight it themselves; and

·         Parliament to exercise political will in the fight against corruption and pass the Anti-Corruption Amendment Bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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