THE National Youth Policy (NYP) 2017-2030 is crucial to addressing the needs of local youths, a community-based youth development organisation, Bacha Re Bacha (BRB), has said.
The non-governmental organisation (NGO) recently held a youth symposium in Leribe to facilitate discussion and review of the policy in order to establish whether it suits the needs of the youth.
BRB was established in 2015 with the aim to transform communities through capacity building and empowerment in the thematic areas of youths, HIV and AIDS, governance and human rights and sustainable livelihoods.
A coalition of NGOs which included Phelisanang Bophelong, Blue Cross, Red Cross, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Programme for International Student Assessment among others came together to engage both non-state actors and government in a dialogue to set deliverable benchmarks in the implementation of this policy.
BRB Director and Coalition Spokesperson, Innocent Dube said: “We are pushing for meaningful youth engagement in economic empowerment, improved health service delivery and the general social development discourse among others.
“Most of these issues have since been covered in the new NYP thus informing the need for all players to engage and come up with a consolidated understanding of its implementation.”
Mr Dube said platforms like the youth parliament were unique amplifiers of the youths’ voice and facilitate their involvement in decision making.
“We feel that it is a platform that will inform the government on the priority areas for the young people and this should happen before government makes decisions,” he said.
“It is not an easy process and it will not happen overnight but it will take dedication from us as young people to soldier on until we have that space. Political will is also at play here and we hope the incumbency continues to give young people the public platform they deserve as they have shown thus far.”
The Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation Senior Entrepreneurship Officer, Lintle Rabolinyane emphasised that the NYP 2017- 2030 was developed with all the youth of Lesotho in mind to invest in the youth.
“In developing this youth policy, an intensive and mass consultation of all stakeholders was a pivotal principle employed by the Ministry. A basic stakeholder mapping was conducted at the inception phase of the assignment,” Ms Rabolinyane.
She said the ministry held extensive consultations and conducted surveys where 71 percent of the youth across the country participated.
Ms Rabolinyane added that there was still room for improvement to the policy to ensure that the youth secure their future.
The policy states that its overall goal is to empower all Basotho youth through coordination of youth interventions and initiatives.
For her part, Bloom Africa Chairperson Mammersi Mangyeli addressed the issues of youth health, HIV and AIDS, substance abuse and comprehensive sexuality education.
“The policy addresses the need for well trained professionals in all schools and that youth resource centres should by 2020 address sexual reproductive health rights as well as provide access to antiretroviral drugs, online counselling and teenage pregnancy counselling and support for young girls,” Ms Mangyeli said.