It is often claimed and assumed that young people lack sufficient experience and knowledge. Let’s face it, our new era made us, young Malians, sufficiently informed, smart, and better equipped to understand and address the challenges our communities face.
In Mali, many consider young people not as social actors and leaders, but just as mere followers that should be used to reach socio-political goals. That is why the political scene, including community and traditional leadership exclude them from crucial decision-making positions. This unfortunately results in decisions made for youth by an older generation that is not aware of their needs, vision, and dreams.
Do we plan to let untrained and unprepared youth to lead us? It seems like that is the plan or alternatively let a small privileged minority to lead the masses who lack education, job opportunities as well as social capital. So, we must capacitate the younger generations; our survival depends on it.
Many will say that there are civil societies advocating for young people. For me, all these groups are just using us as scapegoats to advance an agenda. Looking around we can easily see what the future holds for most of us, who are currently being used when they need the streets to be filled, when they want some agenda to be promoted. This partly explains why some young people, aware of being victims of certain injustices, decide to keep a low profile.
Training young Malian is a beneficial and sustainable solution
I believe we need to train young people, make them ready for the challenges the country face and may face. For that we do not need any Harvard or Sorbonne degree, we can use technology to get new skills, train on trades, entrepreneurship, and so many topics offered online free of charge. These can equally be used by uneducated young people through platform such as YouTube and instructional videos to build new capacity that can make them more marketable and useful to society.
We can also use the following mechanisms to engage more young people and make them ready for fully becoming active citizens:
- Multiply and strengthen the frameworks for exchanges with all young people regardless of social origin to allow all intelligences to express themselves in relation to the challenges they face and direct them to the right information and useful social networks.
- Organize training and capacity-building sessions for young people face-to-face or virtually on active citizenship, leadership, job hunting techniques, and business creation and management.
- Demand and impose their total and not symbolic integration into political parties and decision-making bodies.
- Offer equal opportunities for all young people without discrimination, considering their vision and aspirations.