MARPS IN UGANDA just ended a full year’s exploratory exercise into MARPs issues and a report is on the way. As an organisation contributing to HIV response we wanted to share this insight with MARPs-related organisations. The 12th of August is International Youth Day. It means many things to youths. For instance to Nelson: “It means that a day has been set aside for youth issues.”  And to Zulaika a lesbian: “well all this is still skewed to reflect a straight girl because I cannot go out there and start telling my story. Yet, this day is to enable youths to tell stories. All governments and NGOs want to hear are the palatable stories of a good child going to school and earning good marks, then getting back home to be subservient to donning parents.” This day brings to the fore what youth need to participate in planning for their future. This was the idea that led to the formation of “World Programme for action of Youth”- WPAY.  They need to have opportunity to voice their issues right from homes, schools, health facilities, faiths, culture and districts and at national level. This enables government to have prioritised specific planning. It also enables youths to engage in activities for self determination. Youth friendly counselling, HIV/STIs prevention and health education need to be holistic to be able to promote informed decision-making based on youth specific needs. These needs should be expressed in a non-discriminatory/stigmatising environment. Patriarchy has denied certain expressions, especially if they are intended to be male-specific or female specific.  This need to conform begins all the antagonism. Imagine a Nelson and Zulaika near you. Imagine they have gone to seek sexual health counselling and their counsellor is not youth friendly compliant. Three quarters of the information given to them may not immediately help them. So far, we have only looked at the soft/attitude skills. Let us also look at the hard/technical skills and the environment that brings this about. Numerical strength of the youths and the roles they play in the social economic transformation of their countries is enormous. In order for this to occur there is need for technical skills. Business Technical Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) enables a critical skilled labour force prevail among the youths. Nelson and Zulaika are youths and important adoptions of programming have helped to highlight certain priorities under the WPAY. Human Rights-based approaches and litigation in some cases then make the WPAY priorities friendlier to all youths. The youths should also be aware of the BTVET setting that assumes participation and voluntary enrolment. Otherwise if they do not enrol they will miss out on the benefits such as:
1.       Investing in productivity/skills raises incomes, there-by reducing poverty.
2.       Youths need to train in order to improve on critical skills sets that may change with times.
3.       Skilled workers are adaptable and embrace newer technologies, processes and knowledge.
4.       A skilled labour force critical in the social change processes of a country. It contributes to value addition, enhances productivity and quality of goods and services.
5.       A skilled labour force that enhances innovation and creativity.
This day is reserved to highlight all issues youth face. In participating in national celebrations one gets to meet many people, fellow youths and an opportunity to learn more about the day. All youths and organisations that promote youth self determination should look out and position themselves along these WPAY priority areas: Employment, education, hunger, poverty, health, environment, drug-Use, juvenile delinquency, leisure time activities, girls and Young Women, participation, globalisation, information and Communication Technologies , HIV-AIDS, youth, Conflicts and  Intergenerational relations.    



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