Youth empowerment key to sustainable development

Youth empowerment key to sustainable development

On Tuesday, 17th September, 2013, the student leadership in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) in conjunction with World Youth Alliance held a public lecture to discuss and share ideas on how Africa can realise sustainable development.

 The lecture was held under the theme “Re-thinking Africa’s Sustainable Development Agenda”. The key speakers were the Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, and Associate Professor Josephine Ahikire from the School of Women and Gender Studies.

Presenting a paper at the lecture, Prof. Kirumira, expressed  concern over the continued neglection of the youth yet they make up the biggest percentage of the population. He informed the participants that 48% of the country’s population is below 15 years of age, only 3% above 65 years and 49% in the mainstream potential productive age hence the need to place young people at the centre of development. With reference to Corcoran and Osano, 2009, Prof. Kirumira noted that young people need education, political support, resources, skills and hope if sustainable development is to be achieved. “If young people’s resources of energy, time, and knowledge are misdirected towards violence, terrorism and socially-isolating technologies, civilization risks destabilization,” he stated.

Prof. Kirumira appealed to the government to focus on training and equipping young people with skills to manage the country’s affairs, noting that in five years’ time, most of the current managers will be retired. “The oil resource that is expected to greatly improve the economy of our country may turn out a curse if we do not train people to effectively manage it,” he advised.

Commenting on the contentious land question, he said most of the youth have resorted to selling off land left behind by their parents due to lack of adequate skills to develop it.

Prof. Kirumira emphasized the need to revamp the entire education system in a bid to equip students with skills needed for the job market.

He also pointed out the need to look at sustainable development in a broader perspective, noting that focusing on economic growth alone cannot drive development. “Sustainable development hinges on environmental, economic and socio-political sustainability,” he said.

Dr Ahikire underscored the need to focus on the human aspect of development and an all-inclusive approach to sustainable development. “If a family is in turmoil, the society too will be in turmoil,” she noted. Dr Ahikire called for the revival of cooperatives in a bid to address some of the vices like corruption that are eating up the African society. She noted with dismay that the Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs) have been badly manipulated hence failing to achieve their intended goal.

The Head, Department of Philosophy and Developmental Studies, Prof. Edward Wamala, argued for a change of ideology for sustainable development to be achieved. He advised that the neoliberalism ideology, where service delivery depends on forces of demand and supply, does not support sustainable development.

The students too advocated for overhauling the education system in order to enable them acquire practical skills to fit in the job market.  They also called for democratic governance in Africa as one of the pathways to the realisation of sustainable development.

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