Some African researchers have called on the government to allow the voices of African youths to be heard when it concerns making policies and taking decisions that affect the youths.
The call formed the crux of a workshop organised by the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) and the Nigeria country research team at the University of Ibadan, themed: “Young Women and Men’s Aspirations and Resilience: Prospects for Livelihoods, Employment and Accountability before, during and beyond Covid-19”, held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The Executive Director of PASGR, Dr Anthony Mveyange, who disclosed that the project is being run in seven African countries: Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda, noted that the idea of the project is to bring out the voices of the youth during and after Covid-19, to find out how they survived and what they need to achieve many of their aspirations and to generate evidence that could be used to engage policy makers in terms of the measures to be designed to help African youths.
Mveyange stated: “this project is funded by Mastercard Foundation and it has been spread out for two years and a half to accommodate different nuances across different countries.
The focus of the project is purely not only providing funding for Covid-19, rather to generate evidence on how Covid-19 has affected the youths and what youths want to do in terms of response to Covid-19 in Africa.
The workshop adopted an approach tagged: ‘Utafiti Sera’, a Swahili phrase meaning ‘research policy’, which PASGR believes would create platforms where different actors could come together and help break down barriers that exist in policy spaces.
According to the Head of Research and Policy of PASGR, Dr Martin Atela, the Utafiti Sera would help create a community of interest for continuous engagement on youth aspirations and resilience in Nigeria.
Atela noted: “importantly, we are keen to put together a community of interest for continuous engagement on youth aspirations and resilience in Nigeria and walk with them on that journey so that it’s not a one-off process but a continuous engagement in which we share with them our findings; we try and address their research needs and give them the evidence that helps them most to meet their stakeholder needs and expectations.
He explained that if the government and other stakeholders are to be successful in implementing youth-relevant programmes or designing work portfolios that would address the myriad of challenges facing the youths in the continent, then the voices of the youths must be at the center of such process, explaining that such programmes have failed in the past because the key people that are target beneficiaries were not involved.
The Special Assistant to Governor Seyi Makinde on Student Affairs, Victor Olojede, who was one of the speakers at the event, asserted that the Oyo State Government believed the youth possessed a world of possibilities and is working at exploring the youth population through trainings, scholarships and empowerment programmes in the bid to develop the state, advising youths to diversify, explore, be unstoppable and get involved if they are to attain a position of leadership.
“Youths should dream big and advance in their dreams with the current realities that is facing all of us.
They must also work smart; we now live in a smart society.
The Nigerian youth must pick up new skills, do a lot of research, partner with people.
I’m so much keen on partnership and collaboration, partner with people who have the skills you don’t have and match it up for your development,” Olojede asserted.
The workshop brought together stakeholders in order to share with them, the research programmes being put in place, draw on their experiences and understanding to tell whether or not there are gaps in the proposed research programme that need to be addressed so that the evidence that comes from the work could speak to the contextual issues the youths deal with everyday.
Researchers urge Government on Youth Inclusion in Policy Making