THE Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation will hold a three-day workshop this week to review the National Youth Policy to ensure that it adequately responds to challenges currently faced by the country’s youth.
The workshop which begins on Wednesday will be held in Teyateyaneng in Berea.
The ministry’s Executive Secretary Mahao Johane this week told this publication that the policy review had been necessitated by the realisation that the current document fell short of adequately addressing the challenges confronting the youth.
“The policy will be reviewed because it is outdated as it was crafted in 2003. It further lacks a number of essential details on things like implementing strategies, rendering it irrelevant to today’s world,” Mr Johane said.
He further said the current policy was not responding to existing challenges as it was silent on relevant issues like Information Technology (IT), adding next week’s workshop was the culmination of the reviewing process which started early this year.
He said his ministry initially appointed a Zambian-based consultant Victor Mensah who advised them to appoint the National Youth Policy Task Team (NYPTT) to oversee the review processes.
The NYPTT was made up of representatives from government ministries, non-governmental organisations, youth organisations representatives, business community, religious and disabled persons’ representatives.
There were also four representatives from political party youth leagues.
Democratic Congress (DC) and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) youth leagues represented parties in the seven parties’ coalition government while All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) represented the opposition.
Mr Johane said the task team resolved that the policy review processes must be inclusive and transparent, leading to the distribution of a survey questionnaire seeking opinions on more than 10 thematic areas raised by the United Nations (UN) as areas affecting the youth globally.
“The survey report has since been completed and it is on this basis that we are going to hold a three-day workshop in Berea where 60 representatives will debate the top five thematic areas selected by the youth throughout the country as burning issues,” he said.
The five thematic areas are Climate Change and Agriculture, Governance and Youth Participation, Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment, Health and HIV/Aids and Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and Globalisation.
“After this workshop there will be a validation process where the first draft of the policy will be taken to the districts to ensure that their opinions would have been accurately captured in the workshop,” he said, adding that it was only after this process that the reviewed policy can go through the stages leading to its adoption as a legally binding document.
Mr Johane said they had done their best to ensure the process was not politicised and that the four party political representatives in the NYPTT would be neutral and objective in their task.
“While we might not know if some people in the task team are harbouring political designs, we have tried as much as possible to ensure this process remains apolitical. The four representatives of political parties in the task team are neutral,” he said.
He said this would assist the review process in coming up with strategies to ensure that the National Youth Council (NYC) would not be subjected to the whims of party politics like the recent one.
“While policies are government’s baby, we will put handles in the policy to ensure that the national youth policy, council and all its structures are protected against political influence,” Mr Johane said.
The last NYC was highly politicised and two of its members Ramahooana Matlosa and Mpaballed Motjetjepa ended up suing the ministry’s former principal secretary Dr Majara Molapo for dismissing them.
The two DC followers were dismissed during the tenure of the last coalition government made up of the ABC, LCD and BNP- an indication that the council was highly polarised.