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Senior Counsel and Member of Parliament (MP) Roysdale Forde is lambasting the government for failing to create more opportunities to ensure, during the period when public and private schools are closed, children can be engaged in productive endeavours so they can channel their energies and creativity.
The MP in an interview with Village Voice News said whilst students are on their welcome August break, with lots of time and energies, some children have motivated their parents to enroll them in social and educational programmes, but society has a responsibility to consider those parents who cannot afford to, and this is where the government must step in.”
According to Forde, the general idea is to keep children occupied with educational and other useful activities away from the school setting. “Parents, across social and economic status, would rather prefer their children to be active and interested in learning new and different things from what they are taught in the classrooms. This is a good thing, because by seeking out new avenues of learning, parents are trying to secure the best possible outcomes in life for their children. Many parents and guardians do this at great personal sacrifice,” he said.
Government leaving the responsibility primarily to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community- Based Groups (CBOs) is not sufficient to positively target all our young people to engage them in various activities, such as art, camping, swimming and other sporting activities, environmental and nature programs. He said many NGOs are struggling with extremely limited budgets, and other resources but their desire to reach out and impact the lives of our young people keep them going, which we are grateful for, he said.
Forde is however concerned that some children could fall through the cracks in the absence of a plan, by the Ali-led government to engage them in meaningful programmes, more particularly from low-income, indigenous and rural areas.
With all the oil money, and other resources that are available to the government, it is a pity and a shame that there has been no official announcement, by the government, of any appropriate activities for the youth, particularly in these communities, he asserted.
The MP said he is deeply disturbed travelling through the country to see so many children, with promising futures, not seemingly engaged in productive activity which is depriving them of learning that would improve their circumstances and provide a path for success.
The senior counsel said there are many good reasons why the government should get involved because it has a responsibility to provide opportunities for the development of the citizens. Asked if he has any recommendation what the government could do, he offered: –
“1. Leveraging resources: the government independently or in support with NGOs to provide access to funding and networking opportunities. This encourages good collaboration between those organisations, the government and other stakeholders. This facilitates pooling of resources, knowledge, and expertise. By working together more comprehensive and sustainable solutions can be developed to improve the quality of life for our young people in real geographic areas.
“2. Monitoring and accountability: government support allows for better monitoring and evaluation of the impact of NGOs and CBs programmes. This ensures transparency and accountability. Also, this allows NGOs to be held accountable for measurable outcomes and delivering results.
“3. Dealing with challenges in our society: Working directly with young people in real local communities, where they face unique and special challenges such as poverty, polluted surroundings, environmental challenges, lack of education, unemployment, and health issues. The input of government (independent or in partnership) can ensure these challenges are addressed effectively, fostering social, and community development and reducing inequality.
“4. Encouraging civic engagement: NGOs play an important role in empowering young people to become active participants in their communities. By supporting those non- governmental organisations, the government enables young citizens to actively engage in projects and initiatives that enhance their personal, social and professional development. This in turn promotes civic engagement, youth leadership and a sense of belonging, which ultimately leads to stronger and more resilient and cohesive local communities.
“5. Boosting effect: NGOs typically have expertise and experience in working directly with young people in these areas. They understand local needs and can set up and design targeted programs to address persistent community and other issues. In that sense, government support allows NGOs to scale up efforts, optimizing their effectiveness and reaching a larger number of young people who need assistance.
According to the MP, if the government truly believes our children are our future, then, they should demonstrate this by investing in their development. “Our young people should not suffer neglect because of social and/or financial circumstances.”