YOUTH AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE – Noutcha Issoy Prudence
The development of youth leadership is about building civic capacity and long term community sustainability. Psychologies will bear with me that Man as a whole is considered as a social being, since time immemorial; Man has always look for the space, time and need to meet or group themselves so as to either share good times. This grouping at times take different forms and has diverse objectives such as meeting to share a benefice, exchange experiences, defends a common goal, carry out an activity, fight to gain power or autonomy. What therefore accounts for today, youth reluctance in active participation in governance issues meanwhile they are considered as tomorrow’s leaders who need to take elders examples so as to became better arm. It is very evident that investing in the young generation of today is a way to harvest tomorrow’s peace, democracy, stability, security and sustainable development. Our focus will present cases or situations in which youths are involved in governance, factors that discourage youth participation, factors that can help to encourage more active involvement in governance and democratic actions.
WHAT IS PARTICIPATION
Participation is the ability to promote, express or influence the course of an event either positive or negative. We can have an individual or collective engagement of people in either an enterprise, an initiative, a project, where they acts either as the main leaders, the realizers of an idea or the evaluators or monitors of an activity.
Youth participation in the celebration of the international day for volunteering in Cameroon, 5th December 2015 edition
WHO IS A YOUTH
We should say that the concept of “Youth” is a well-known concept but its definition still remains very ambiguous given to our political, intellectual and social attachments. It is often perceive according to generations, cultures, interests and geographical locations. We have some formal definitions like the United Nation definition which consider a youth to be that person who is age between the age of 15 and 24 years, for the African Union we have it at 15 – 35 years. As to what patterns to some theorists define youth to be that person who is spontaneous, is responsible and able to put an end to the entanglement of an expired civilization.
SITUATIONS IN WHICH YOUTH PARTICIPATE
Analyses and personal experiences and testimonies have shown that youth participation has different stages and forms according to the geopolitical and geographical location where they may find themselves ,when we read great researcher works like Roger Hart, we see how he clearly elaborate the different ways and stages at which youths are often associated to participate in a project ,in his article he present this in 8 different stages and in those stages we most of the time are confronted with two situation, adults and youths relations, youths personal actions or adults actions on youths.
Below is the presentation of the different situations youths taking part in governance:
In this stages of youth’s participation we see many youth call up by adults into an activity or project without them understanding what is all about, how it functions and what is the expected result from their action.
Level 2. THE DECORATION
We see youth associated in events for ceremonial purposes, they put on t-shirt, stand by streets or gathering gladly singing, clapping and dancing for an event they hardly know the purpose but feel glad because of the new t-shirt received and the little transport faire they will receive at the end.
Level 3. PURE POLITICS
Here we see youth was given the chance to speak, so as to defend political leaders interest so as to cover up some of their nurse hope and a positive idea of their actions , but then ,the youths have no choice due to social conditions they find no better solution than playing the game of the politician.
Level 4. ASSIGNED AND INFORMED
Sometimes, youth are called up by adults and then instructed on what they got to do in regards to a situation at hand.
Level 5. CONSULTED AND INFORMED
At times, youth is informed about and initiative and they are provides with the necessary tools to autonomously take decisions and actions.
Level 6. ADULTS INITIATIVES AND PROJECTS
Youth take part in initiatives and are giving the room to give their own opinions.
Level 7. YOUTHS INITIATIVES AND PERSONAL ACTIONS
Youth create and direct their personal initiatives without any adult’s interference.
Level 8. YOUTHS INITIATIVES AND CONSULTED DECISION TAKEN WITH ADULTS Youth take active parts in initiatives and decisions but then work with the collaboration of the administration.
FACTORS HINDERING YOUTH PARTICIPATION
Nowadays, youth is considered apathetical or less concern when it comes to democratic actions such as civic duties or governance. We can say that all this exclusive behaviors of youths stain from political, economic or social-cultural factors:
The repeated manipulation of youths by political leaders who come to them only when they need their votes and voices has created a great sense of reasoning in most youths today who have gained a certain level of understanding .as such they preferred to abstain from elites manipulations and rather seek for non-open involvement in governance activities.
The political conditions of most countries do not act as a favorable ground for youths to actively engage, for example some countries have youths voting age and even occupation of responsibility position very high, dispositions to aspire as a candidate are not well made, others are constantly faced with great appetite leaders who belief to be the only ones to rule or else no one else can.
The present situations of most youths in the world do not motivate them in taking parts in voluntary actions as this adage says a” hungry man is an Angry Man”. The daily and basic challenges faced by most youths of today due to unemployment has cause most of them to develop a kind of capitalist mind where their optimum is to have money at all cost, the need to solve daily challenges such as feeding, clothing and schooling has made them not to trust decision makers and the state any longer. As a result to this ,most of the youths have decided to develop an excluding behaviors towards nation building projects and ideas ,thus accounting for some of the reasons why most youths of today, taking Cameroon as an example are no longer willing to volunteer in any development actions, cause they fear for their stomach.
Socially, I will say that most youths do not engage most of the time in governance issues due to the lack of information and lack of training on how to go about, the lack of active and educational socialization programs and centers, some due to personal, religious or cultural practices most at times lead them to absent from any form of gathering. The civic education taught in most educational program is not one which easily spur youths to want to take actions, the teaching gotten, most at times limits itself at the level of knowing the government institutions. They lack ideas on how we can make a social auditing and engage in a community action. Without such a knowledge on the role of the citizen, they will never engage effectively in democratic and governance actions.
IMPORTANCE OF YOUTH PARTICIPATION
Youth activism play a vital role in the socialization and integration of the youth in the community and country. Below are some of the benefits from having an active youth participation.
Youths engaging in community development actions to create great impacts back in the development of the environment.
- It helps in the valorization of the youths and youth association that acts as a sphere where peace can be promoted.
- Youth volunteers have a voice in decisions that affect them.
- As youth become stakeholders and change agents in communities and organizations, they bring perspectives, knowledge and relationships that lead to better decisions and more productive action.
- Youth in Governance promotes positive outcomes among youth. It teaches the skills of active citizenship such as understanding how decisions are made and how to organize, plan, and communicate.
- Our civil society is strengthened when youth become informed and thoughtful citizens. Young people with skills, knowledge, commitment, and experience can reflect upon the common good, become full members of their communities, and take political action.
STRATEGIES AND WAYS TO ENCOURAGE YOUTH PARTICIPATIONS
IT is an evidence that, when youths develop useful skills and build self-confidence, it is a way of establishing capable and effective leaders for the next generation .For youths to effectively engage in the promotion of democracy and good governance, strict, accurate and effective measures need to be taken into serious considerations.
- INDIVIDUAL COMPETENCE
When we talk of the individual competence we are referring to those potentials that exist within the youths such as ,the will ,the ability and the capability to engage .Most of the time ,youths do their personal checks such as am I in good health , what is my academic level, what is my communication skill ,do I have the qualities of a good leaders ,do I have mobilization skills , do I inspire confidence and hope. All this are necessary factors that encouraged most youth leaders to get involved.
- ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
Here we are referring to the natural environment and the socio-political disposition made available for the youths to effectively engage in an activity or collective action within his community. What is the political will of the leaders to help the youths to effectively take actions or engage in developmental activities? Do they exist structures that can help the youths to effectively engage in his or her community? What are some of those social and community actions and dispositions that can help this youths to effectively take concrete actions?
Education is the foundation of knowledge and is the basic key to help youths to participate in democracy and good governance ,with a sound education a youth will be able to develop the necessary skill and competence that will better arm him in the understanding and seek strategies to better promote the values of democracy.
- PROFESSIONAL DIALOGUE ON DEMOCRACY
There is the great need for youths to come together and discuss issues by emphasizing the important role that they need to play ,they need to address ills such as violence, corruption, embezzlement ,juvenile delinquency ,Fraud at all level of private and public sectors. This will help then make concrete advocacy in front of the government so as to demand for accountability and strict measures that lead to their unemployment.
When our children are assured of survival and health, provided with a good education, protected from war and violence, and when youth participate in the democracy and development of their countries, then Africa and the World will be set to claim the 21st century. K Y Amoako
To end our above analyses on why youth should participate in development actions, we say that the confusion of who is a youth must be corrected, to allow youth to work. Youth cannot be compared to older people because youth are engine of change; they are easily transformable into what is needed for betterment of the nation and they should not remain unused. The difference between the generations should be well establish and each given its role to play without any domination or influence of the others, but rather working with a concerted approach in decision taken for all the generations, in this light the elderly will be proud of the youths they will leave behind and the youths will be more ready to open up to the elderly for more daily lessons that will direct them to a more creative and dynamic actions that will help in the daily construction of our countries like this popular statement which say show me your youth and I will tell you the kind of nation you are will go on having positive impacts.
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Aron Raymond, Démocratie et totalitarisme, Paris, Gallimard, 1965
Eyinga Abel, Introduction à la politique camerounaise, Paris, Antropos, 1978.
Mandat d’arrêt pour cause d’élections : de la démocratie au Cameroun (1979-1978), Paris, l’Harmattan, 1978.
Bessala Bessal C.P, ‘Quelle Jeunesse pour un Cameroun en Emergence’ Paris,L’Harmattan 2016.
Guiffo Mopo Jean Philippe, Constitutions du Cameroun, Documents Politiques et Diplomatiques, Yaoundé, Éditions Stella, 1977.
Ki-Zerbo Joseph., Histoire de l’Afrique noire d’hier à demain, Paris, Hatier, 1972.
www.what is democracy.net
Written by: Noutcha Issoy Prudence