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Youth forum to promote cohesion set for January

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 13 – The Brand Kenya Board on Thursday launched preparations for the National Youth Summit planned for January 2013 that aims to promote national cohesion, patriotism and to provide a platform where the youth can engage with the country’s leaders.

The two-day summit, which will cost the board an estimated Sh31.6 million will be preceded by 10 county based forums, which Brand Kenya Director of Marketing Nzilu Musyoki said are meant to discover opportunity gaps and design ways to ensure that the youth are considered equal partners in matters of peace, leadership and governance.

“We will reach out to youths in groups as much as possible. They will be asked to send delegates for the county summits and then select other delegates for the national summit,” he said.

“We will teach them about social transformation dealing with issues concerning attitude change and behaviour. We will provide lessons on economics and that is where the case studies will come in, along with practical action dealing with things the youth can do to improve their fortunes,” he explained.

Brand Kenya CEO Mary Kimonye emphasised that it’s the board’s responsibility to mediate any interactions between the youth and politicians to prevent their exploitation for votes, and urged the youth to use their college degrees as only a tool towards self discovery and to stop relying on classical employment to earn a living.

“If we keep telling our youth that after university they all can get jobs in companies, then we are lying. Let the degree be a basic tool to help the youth discover themselves so they can exploit their talents,” she said.

“It’s important that we stand between our youth and the politicians because they’re going to exploit them. We’re trying to ask the youth to embrace a value based life so that even if they’re paid to throw stones, they can say ‘I’ll take the money, but I can’t find stones’,” she added.

Unemployment has led to the soaring crime rates among the youth in the country and Kimonye added that idle youth have been used by unscrupulous politicians from time to time to cause chaos or to start gangs that terrorize people.

In the wake of the 2008 post election violence, the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team noted that selfish politicians exploited the youth’s routine gamble to get something to eat, to hire them for as low as Sh50 to perpetrate violence that left at least 1,300 people dead, 600,000 others displaced and property worth billions ruined.

“Major causes of unemployment among the youth are rural to urban migration, school dropout cases, high expectations from employers and our current education system does not encourage young people to have entrepreneurial minds”

Kimonye noted that youth unemployment is a significant problem in Kenya with statistics showing that 60 percent of the Kenyan population is under the age of 35 and out of the 40 percent of Kenyans who are unemployed, 64 percent of them are youths.

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“There are a total of 19 million Kenyans who are part of the working population and the total unemployment population is 1.7 million, but 72 percent of them are under 30 years old and 51 percent are under 24 years old,” she stated.

“Major causes of unemployment among the youth are rural to urban migration, school dropout cases, high expectations from employers and our current education system does not encourage young people to have entrepreneurial minds,” she explained.

In nearly all developing countries the rate of urban unemployment in the 15-24 age group is at least double the rate of all other age groups.

“Kenya’s economy is currently dependent on agriculture, but the youth are moving to urban areas in large numbers causing new entrants in the labour force to choose between working in small-scale enterprises and being self-employed,” she stated.

“An effective way of addressing unemployment among youth is to help them develop skills in entrepreneurship and business development, which will help them find something to do that will not only sustain them but will also be beneficial to the community,” she added.

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