Even though youth development may be considered from different perspectives, it is simply a process of capacitating young people to become productive citizens. For a country like ours that has undergone turbulent times, the issue of youth development has become not only uncompromising, but a national obligation. This is why both the public and private sectors are placing the issue of youth development at the core of their programs and projects across the country.
While the private sector, most especially non-governmental organizations, must be hailed for its initial interventions immediately following years of crisis here, the government’s position, in terms of playing a leading role in the process, must now attract the attention of us all, and not only those who run the administration. Realizing that the young people are, no doubt, the engine for national development and being cognizant of the fact that in as much as local and international NGO’s have been in the vanguard of helping in the process of transforming the nation’s ‘future leaders’, it thought to exert itself, through a leading role, by emphasizing youth development in its fiscal budget.
At the moment, a $15m allotment is currently in the government’s 2012/2013 budget for the young people. As a show of its seriousness, the Government of Liberia recently launched the Liberia Youth Empowerment Program to jump-start the effort. At the launch of this national initiative in Kakata, Margibi County, Vice President Joseph Boakai noted that the program was a manifestation of the government’s commitment to sustainably improving the livelihood of Liberian youths.
VP Boakai also said the program was a milestone in diverting Liberian youths from crimes, drugs, idleness, prostitution and other vices to empowerment, through such employment program that seeks to make young people become good citizens and responsible family instruments. According to him, since the inception of the Sirleaf Administration, the Liberian economy has registered notable improvements in its overall socio-political and economic development, however, adding that government is yet to achieve the capacity to effectively absorb the huge number of young people into the mainstream of economic activities.
It is also worth noting the government’s efforts toward the rehabilitation and establishment of vocational training institutions, including the Monrovia Vocational Training Center or MVTC through the assistance of the Chinese Government, in addition to other skills-training programs across the country. As the government executes these youth development programs nation-wide, it is incumbent upon the young people of Liberia to take advantage of such opportunity for their own future betterment, other than being lured into acts and vices to impede their own development and progress.
Towards this effort, national organizations, including Liberian political parties, mainly the opposition must also find their way through, in meaningfully building the capacity of their youths so that by the time they shall have reached the helm of power, these young people would have been fully prepared to assist the process of national development. Not being in power as a political party does not mean a political party must be idle, only focusing on condemnations and issuance of statements of all sorts as a way of making their presence felt. Such presence must manifest itself in tangible undertakings, including youth development since the young people are the engine of national development. The growth and development of the young people, indeed, requires collaborative efforts and not only the central government with international assistance.