Africa needs an assertive, strong generation who are able to contribute and lead change, in the face of emerging global challenges, to build a better, stronger Africa. While most young Africans are optimistic about the future those feeling very positive about the future have decreased greatly each year.
Africa needs to empower its young people to increase their ability to personally influence what is happening in their lives and communities. Involve youth in government decision-making processes which includes: involving young people in the planning and delivery of services that interest and impact upon them, equipping young people with skills so they can increasingly contribute to decision making and instigate matters for government consideration thereby creating the opportunities for young people to become more involved in their communities
To meet Africa's challenges head on we need a generation of ground-breaking and adaptable young people to create their future. If we give the youth an opportunity, the future is going to look very different. Young people are not a problem to be helped or solved, they are the conduits of creativity and catalyst for change. Young people are ambitious, creative and capable of rethinking the world and solving tomorrow's problems today. With young people the world of work is changing because young people are enterprising. Young people can lead social action with a social conscience that will let them build a better world in the process.
If all this happens; we will value diversity as youth participation and engagement processes will be creative, flexible and inclusive of young people's diversity. This diversity includes cultural and linguistic background, gender, life-experience, view-points, age, health and well-being, location, class, disability, spirituality and sexuality. There will be Purposeful engagement as participation will be beneficial to young people and be a positive, meaningful experience, which acknowledges young people's input and contributions. Then only will the freedom of young people to comment, provide advice and participate be respected and fostered by governments.
Young people are valuable members of the African community and make significant contributions to community life. Government policies have a significant impact on young people's lives and, accordingly, young people are entitled to have their voice heard in public policy making. Young people's participation in decision-making provides opportunities for them to influence or have 'their say' on issues of importance to them. Getting involved also means young people will learn new skills along the way. Actively engaging young people in the design and delivery of public policies, programs and services that impact on their lives is common sense and is critical to their success. Including young people in decision-making also contributes to a balanced, representative and democratic community that ultimately benefits all Africans.
Too many young people in Africa today cannot look forward to leading an independent and fulfilling life; their future remains precarious. Young people have been hit hard by the crisis. For a large number of them, the transition from education to employment has become more difficult. Too many are at risk of poverty or exclusion. Many feel that their views are taken for granted and their best use is being political stooges. There is a serious risk that a large number will drift away from society. This is unacceptable. We need to do much more to support young people - and youth work can play a vital role in this.