Every young person is entitled to human rights as instituted in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and international legal instruments.
While enjoying these rights, as the youth, we also have responsibilities and obligations to fulfil with corresponding virtues.
Overall, there is a positive legal and policy environment towards youth development in Africa, but what remains are controversial issues and the age-old gap between policy and implementation.
Governments are the main players in policy implementation, but young people also have a part to play.
Individuals have become part of the problem by their lack of input and participation in policy implementation; rather they are comfortable to complain of the failures of governments in addressing pertinent issues.
Every citizen has a civic duty to become part of the solution, not the problem.
As the youth, there is a need to follow the attitude of the French playwright Charles-Guillaume Étienne that says: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
Through my interacting with most young Malawians, I have noted that, the majority are either unaware or uninterested in policies related to their needs and issues.
In common debates, the usual responses I get are “oh yeah, I did hear there is a National Youth Policy [NYP]” , “I haven’t read it because I know it is just another paper that the government will not even implement” and “I hear we have good policies, but we do not implement them.”
This makes me wonder how the youth can measure the impact and make conclusions on policies they are not conversant with!
It is of great value to their growth and development as the youth to take action by developing interests and familiarising themselves with policies and strategies that concern or affect them.
The youth would then be able to make productive contributions on the implementation of those policies.
Oftentimes, we talk about accountability, but we cannot hold the government or policy implementers accountable if we are not aware of the contents and promises in our policy documents.
As citizens, we need to take time to read, understand and internalise them. We are all actors in the implementation of policies.
As youthful people, we often divert our attention from familiarising ourselves with important stuff. We prefer to focus on less pertinent issues, like social media, gossip columns and other Internet platforms that rarely add value to our personal or national development.
We waste our time and money on forwarding pictures and gossip stories of people that we do not even know.
We need to ask ourselves how does a sex scandal of people you do not know benefit you in your personal growth?
It is important to point out that the time and money spent on sharing these scandals on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be put to better use by reading and researching on platforms that would help us know and understand our policies.
Malawi Government has a whole web page where we can also find most of the policies and strategies in place, not to mention the National Youth Council of Malawi and Department of Youth at City Centre where free copies are available.
Apart from the government and other implementers, we need to remember we have duties and responsibilities as Malawian citizens in ensuring that the ideas in the national policies, including the NYP), are implemented.
Usually, we talk about accountability, but we cannot hold the government or various policy implementers accountable unless we know the contents, aspirations and promises made in our policy documents. We need to take time to read them.
We are all actors in the implementation of policies. n