standing-up-for-youth

Standing up for the youth

We view the situation in which the youth in Ethiopia presently find themselves with a mixed emotion.

On the one hand, there are opportunities which allow them to have access to modern education as well as to be steeped in morality, thereby paving the way for them to become productive citizens. On the contrary they are confronted with a raft of challenges that threaten to deal a devastating blow to their hopes and aspirations.

According to current projections, children and the youth account for around 70 percent of the 96 million people of Ethiopia. This sizable segment of the society should be singled out for particular care and protection as it is the future of the country. If the youth are to take the baton from their elders, the hurdles that prevent them from arming themselves with the requisite knowledge and ethical values and instead steer them in the wrong direction should be removed. This requires a concerted and prompt action from all stakeholders beginning from families to communities to the government.

The gravest problem facing the youth today is the debauchery that an increasing number of them are engaged in. Irresponsible individuals blinded by greed deliberately open up establishments where alcohol and drugs are easily available around residential areas, high schools and institutions of higher learning. These joints target the youth and are proliferating at an alarming rate. If the government and the public at large do not exert a coordinated effort aimed at reining in these callous elements, the consequences will be dire for all.

How can the establishments which are destroying the youth’s future mushroom in the vicinity of schools and act with impunity if they are not aided and abetted, whether explicitly or implicitly, by officials at different levels of government? Where is the corporate social responsibility of breweries which advertise that their products cannot be sold to persons under the age of 18 while they do nothing when the teen consume their products in large quantities at various events they sponsor? Why can’t those who facilitate the conditions which steer the youth on the road to debauchery see that they are laying waste to a generation? Why are they so thoughtless as to be indifferent to how the youth turn out? Don’t they and their accomplices in government realize that they are killing their own daughters and sons? None of us should sit idle while these forces of destruction jeopardize the prospect of the youth. It’s impossible to build a nation or prosper if we keep at enfeebling them. We need to act fast if such a specter is not to pass.

There are nascent signs that local companies are starting to be serious about their social responsibility by giving back to the society. Unfortunately, most are not primarily motivated by altruistic considerations in providing charity to the needy; rather they use the support they provide, which they time to coincide with holidays, as a public relations stunt to promote their services and products. These exercises have no real value and actually aggravate dependency. If they are committed to doing right by the youth, they need to focus on establishing libraries, sports facilities and skills development centers. They can also organize talent competitions with a view to make it possible for the youth to express themselves and utilize their potential to the fullest. The money that the companies waste, in the name of discharging their corporate social responsibility, on activities which by any measure have no societal value is better spent on improving the lot of the disadvantaged in general and in particular on empowering the youth.

The destiny of the youth should very much be a cause for concern for both the society and the government. And the duty of enabling the youth lies first and foremost on them. It is critically important that the youth are groomed in such a manner as to inculcate them with the right attitude and societal norms. It is when they are imbued with moral values that they can pursue their education with the required seriousness and develop the capability to take on responsibilities as well as to make informed decisions on the future of their lives and the country. Nowadays, smatterings of youngsters who pen mature opinions are appearing on the social media. Sadly, they are far outnumbered by peers who are adept at nothing but hurling insults and rumor mongering. The latter’s weakness is principally attributable to failings of both the education system and families in terms of infusing them with morality. This is precisely why the society at large and the government need to sit down and deliberate on the problem with the aim of thrashing out the appropriate solutions. Needless to say, the deliberations have to be inclusive whereby the views of all stakeholders are expressed if the youth are not to become just messengers and actually assume leadership roles.

Ethiopians cannot afford to waste a moment in taking coordinated measures intended to enable our youth become citizens who have a complete personality and take over from their elders. Should we fail to do right by the youth, the future will not rosy for the nation.

Source: ethiopian reporter

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