By Mahmud Tim Kargbo :
Since he joined The Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone Minister of Finance , Honourable Dr. Kaifala Marah is a man that is well know for applying his responsibilities to the State in a more sensible and relaxed manner. The quiet, soft -spoken and well -disciplined diplomat continues to conduct himself with integrity and standard professionalism by injecting his sense of commitment, concern and love for his country over to his Ministry and the youth of Sierra Leone.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS OF THE HON. MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ON WORLD YOUTH DAY
On this International Youth Day, here (Sierra Leone ) we are celebrating it with a heavy heart. As a responsible Government, we are currently overwhelmed with tackling the Ebola plague. And seeing our youth right in the middle of action battling it hard to put an end to the current epidemic in our country manifest yet another fantastic example of their resilience, love and responsibility for their beloved country.
Before His Excellency The President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma took over power in Sierra Leone, many of the most strained conversions have occurred out of a tension within the concepts of youth empowerment or youth development. The word ’empower’ is a pretty straight forward one, which is ‘to enable or permit’. The word ‘development’ was a little more ambiguous for our past Governments and they never got it right. Thanks to God, now President Koroma is correcting their past mistakes to give our youth a more prosperous future nationally and globally. Development is the act or progress of causing to grow or expand, to bring in to being or activity; generate or evolve.
Youth development is embedded within the overarching concept of human development, the natural unfolding of the potential inherent in the human organism in relation to the challenges and supports of the physical and social environment. It is a continuation albeit distinct natural process from child development that includes ‘the growing capacity of a young person to understand and act on the environment’. Development, it turns out, occurs through this process of progressively more complex exchange between a child and somebody else, especially somebody who’s crazy about that child. Therefore, President Koroma stoutly believes that youth empowerment is an attitudinal, structural and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority and agency to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people, including colleagues youth and adults. Under the Leadership of President Koroma, youth empowerment activities include student centered learning, popular education and service learning as well as youth led media and youth leadership programms.
The youth, ( 15 – 35 years ) constitutes greater percentage of the total population of Sierra Leone. This group which is the most vibrant and dynamic segment of the country’s population comprises potentially its most valuable human resource. In less than a decade from now, Sierra Leone, with median age of 29 years will be among the world’s youngest nations. President Koroma want to make sure that Sierra Leone’s demographic transformation is creating an opportunity for the demographic burden of the past to be converted to a dividend for the future. For this to happen, the country is adopting a three pronged policy that will address the issues of employment, livelihoods and the skill status of the youth. As a Government, we know the initial situation of rural young women and men in Sierra Leone is not better with broadening gaps of inequalities adversely impacting realization of their social, economic, political, civil and cultural human rights. And we are setting up the requisite institutions that will impact positive change in their lives.
Young people have shouldered the advancement of Sierra Leone economy by contributing extensively to the Gross National Product. And there is huge potential to increase the contribution of this class of nation’s citizenry by increasing their labour force participation and their productivity. President Koroma believes that the participation of young people in various sectors of our economy is a fundamental right. Through active participation, young women and young men are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as that of their communities, helping them to earn vital life skills, develop knowledge on human rights and gender equality and to promote positive civic action.
To get the issues of youth efficiently addressed, President Koroma under his Leadership continue to do wonderful job detailing the key ingredients necessary to promote positive youth development In Sierra Leone; by setting up the National Youth Commission and The Ministry of Youth Affairs. The President strongly believes that good youth development has to precede good youth empowerment. Therefore, it is critical that youth are looked to as resources within our communities and are given an opportunity to step out in to seeing the impact they are capable of making. In fact, The President often says when youth development and youth empowerment are intertwined, young people are quite capable of changing Sierra Leone in bod and dramatic ways. History is filled with young people doing just so.