Edditorial Comment : Youth must take responsibility

Capitalk Reporter |  5 months ago | local

National Youth Day was proclaimed in 2018 to provide a focus point for what everyone agreed was an upgrade in practical support for our younger generations and also for those same generations to make a larger and more effective contribution to their own advancement. This year was the first time that a proper set of programmes had been organised to convert the concept into reality, and the events that were seen and the activities done were a very good start.

President Mnangagwa was the guest of honour at the central celebration of the day in Harare and in what he did and what he said he stressed the full range of what Zimbabwe needs its youth to be thinking about, and doing. Everyone who attended, from the guest of honour down, first was involved in cleaning up the area.

In his address, the President made it clear that he was not going to try and run the lives of young people, continually stressing that they had to take the responsibility to do that themselves. They can be supported, but in the end they and the country move forward when they get it right.

We all hope young people can think for themselves, and we all hope they can learn from both the mistakes as well as the successes of earlier generations, as well as incorporate the results of change and growth.

So when the President started emphasising unity and decency he was passing on his own experience, that when Zimbabweans are united, at least so far as wanting the best for their country as a whole, they tend to forge ahead and when they allow the natural differences between people to be turned from something that enriches a country to something that divides a country we have disaster. The fact that we speak a lot of languages, have streets of churches of different kind, need long ballot papers in many elections so all candidates for a particular position can be listed and can generate many other potential differences does not mean we have to be divided.

These sort of spectrums of outlook can enrich all of us if we so choose. Obviously people will disagree, but when we work together those disagreements can often be positive; at the very least when we are hammering out something we can cover all the angles and ensure that once we have all made out input we get something a lot better. The second area that the President wanted to stress is that no one should expect young people to leave school and become instant professionals and business people.

They need support. There has been a level of lip service in this, rather than something practical, and the President this time round wanted the youth to understand that he agrees: they need the practical not the talk.

This is why Empower Bank is being expanded and upgraded so it can do something useful for young people with skills, willingness to work hard and some good ideas. This is one of the reasons for the raft of education reforms in recent years, to start stressing that education is not just something done in an ivory tower, but something that prepares people for life in a real world, and which needs to be continually available in that real world.

So, we see Education 5.0 in everything from post-graduate work in universities, in technical colleges, in vocational training and in every other facet. We need young people who can both think creatively and who can acquire the skills they need to turn that creative thought into productive matters and who will be supported in the conversion. Young people need not just sit back, though, and wait for something to drop from the sky.

They need to be involved in building their own future, and remembering that it is their future so they need to get it right. And often they have to try the new ways and even invent the new ways so that they can do better and be better than their parents and other elders.

The celebrations also brought up problems that can waylay everyone, but perhaps younger people more than others. One of these is drug and substance abuse and the events in Harare saw not just the launch of the national policy, but also some very practical advice from those who had made the mistakes, and wanted others to learn from them.

The degradation and loss of hope that can result from abuse of any substance, including alcohol, were fairly vividly expressed by those who had gone down those roads.

This is the sort of approach that is far more effective than lecturing. Mistakes happen and more back-up is needed, but in the end we once again have the appeal to youth to be responsible. But the main way many will avoid the pitfalls is by pushing ahead on something more worthwhile, more real. When you are building a life you can have a lot of satisfaction from your success, more than a few drinks or a few pills. Another area where responsibility matters is in voting responsibly. The President noted that while his generation had to go to war to get freedom when they were young, today’s younger generation just need to preserve that freedom with their votes.

He was careful not to suggest who they should vote for, but was more open when he came to how they should approach an election, taking the responsibility to check our candidates and parties before firing their shot in a polling booth. Generally, the President through the day was stressing the same themes: be responsible, be creative, be productive, be united, work together. Today’s young people are the ones who will be doing evermore to build Zimbabwe, and we all hope they get it right, so it will be a better country to live in.