The high rate of unemployment among the young people in South Sudan will soon be a thing of the past, should the planned national youth service initiative announced by government become a reality.
South Sudan’s youth and sports minister, Cirino Hiteng, on Saturday told journalists that the planned youth service, to be developed in line with the country’s youth policy, is a one-year compulsory program that will involve teaching young people nation-building skills.
"We shall work in partnership with the defense ministry to identify and teach our young people skills that are necessary for building thus nation", said Hiteng, adding that the first phase of the program will target at least 10,000 people from all over the country.
The minister, speaking on the eve of world youth day, also stressed the importance of a robust education programme in the country, describing education as a key pillar in South Sudan’s post-war recovery efforts.
The youth in South Sudan, according to the 2008 Sudan housing and population census, accounted for over 70 percent of the population. It defines a youth as anyone from 18-40 years.
Hiteng further hinted on a plan to have a certain percentage from the country’s oil revenues allocated as future generation funds for youth development, further emphasizing the importance of investing in the youth.
"A future does not plan for itself, but some people have to plan for it", he said.
Also underway, the national youth minister told journalists, is a plan to review laws on whether young people who commit crimes should be detained in prisons or simply subject them to community service.
A recently released Human Rights Watch (HRW) report revealed dire conditions in South Sudan’s prisons, with many young people reportedly being detained in the same detention cells with adults.
With lack of funds, infrastructural challenges seen as major bottle necks to South Sudan’s plans to boost higher education, the minister advised the youth not to lose hope in whatever they are doing, if they are to attain positive outcomes.
Meanwhile Toby Lanzer, newly appointed the United Nations Resident Coordinator for South Sudan told journalists that partnering with the youth globally is one of the top five priorities of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.
He however advised the youth in South Sudan to play fundamental roles in building their respective communities, through patience and hard work.
"There is no magic word for success other than hard work", said Lanzer, who also doubles as the Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary General in South Sudan.
Based on the theme, “A better world in partnership with the youth", this year’s event in South Sudan is sponsored by the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports, in partnership with UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), among others.