By Valerie Namusia
As we celebrate the youth on this International Youth Day, it is also important for us to reflect on and highlight the challenges most youth face that keep them from reaching their full potential. The youth serve a very important part in the society and infact the youth are the future of any nation. Young people can be the success or the downfall of a society depending on the opportunities available to them and the importance given to resolving their social, economic and psychological issues.
The biggest problem is lack of employment and youth centric opportunities. Most of the youth either drop out of school or graduate without skills needed for self-employment. The country’s training institutions are also either too few to accommodate all the students or lack the facilities to prepare students for the challenging job market demands. There are thousands of youth who graduate from various universities and colleges yearly ready to enter the job market every year. However, due to the slow economic growth, corruption, nepotism and demand for many years of experience by potential employers, a large percentage remain unemployed.
Health has become a major issue among the youth. Sexually transmitted diseases, the exponential spread of HIV/AIDS and drug abuse have become issues of major concern. Alcohol, cigarettes, and cannabis sativa have remained the most popular abused substances in the country. Moreover, abuse of drugs is highly associated with the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Mental health is increasingly becoming a common problem among the youth. Depression, anxiety and various eating disorders are also becoming leading mental problems among the youth. Furthermore, reproductive health is one of the issues with the greatest impact on the youth. Some related problems and side effects include teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortion.
These are just but a few of the challenges the youth face in their day to day lives as they try survive and reach their dreams. The youth need policies that will address unemployment problems and create an environment where the youth can exploit their potential through value adding initiatives and assist youth in this country overcome the challenge of crime, drug and substance abuse among the youth in Kenya. The health system should also be geared towards the development of more youth friendly centers to encourage them to seek help on sexual reproductive health and mental health.
Hopefully a lasting solution can be found to the problems of the youth. This may include the launch of more youth groups and support from the government and non-governmental organizations.