Youth Development Policy is overdue, say Kenya’s faith leaders

Peter Nyakwara at F2ANairobi, KENYA, 25 February 2019 (F2A) – Leaders of various faith-inspired institutions in Kenya have called on development stakeholders to support the proposed youth development policy.

Led by the chairperson of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK), Father Joseph Mutie, the clergy and lay leaders lauded the policy as a framework to give direction to youth programs and services provided by both state and non-state actors, including faith-based actors.

“Our respective scriptures show us that youth is a time of danger and challenge, but most importantly a time of opportunity for formation, growth and development,” Father Mutie said. “Youth have energy, they are daring, their hearts are filled with visions of the future, all of which are valuable components in the service to humanity and to Almighty God,” added Father Mutie.

The faith leaders spoke during a day-long session hosted by the State Department for Youth Affairs, to gather views of stakeholders on the second draft of the Kenya Youth Development Policy.

“The proposed policy will succeed the current 2007 Youth Policy,” Hon. Rachel Shebesh, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs told delegates of the consultative forum. She said the consultations with a wide range of stakeholders are necessary in order to make the policy respond to all the needs of young people.

Delegates were challenged to provide inputs that will lead to a “value-based and purpose-driven” youth policy, by Reverend Dr. Samuel Kobia, the senior advisor of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on matters of peace, cohesion, and conflict resolution.

In a follow up meeting, the faith leaders discussed the policy in detail, exploring Holy Scriptures supporting wholesome youth formation. From the Christian faith, for instance, it emerged that God used numerous people in their youth, such as Joseph, Jeremiah and Jesus Christ, to lead different processes.

Senior personnel from the National Council of Population and Development (NCPD) assisted the forum to understand Kenya’s Demographic Dividend (DD) Roadmap 2017. “The Pillars in Vision 2030 are aligned to African Union’s DD Roadmap,” Mr Peter Nyakwara of NCPD explained to the faith leaders. He also elaborated on the Government’s Big Four Agenda, Kenya’s Vision 2030, and the EAC Vision 2050. Other instruments that were discussed included the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, popularly known as SDGs.

A memorandum of the inputs was written and sent to the State Department and the Consultant. Among the proposals of the faith community is to structure the policy into four key pillars, namely Health and Wellbeing; Education and Skills Development; Economic Development, Employment and Entrepreneurship; Rights, Governance and Youth Empowerment. The memorandum further proposes that each pillar consolidates all matters related thereunder. So for instance the pillar on Health and Wellbeing will contain elimination of harmful social practices (including FGM, early marriage), sexuality and reproductive health, drug and substance abuse, mental and emotional health, stigma and discrimination, and nutrition, among many others.

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