Raised voices and troubling concerns of SI youth

DEAR EDITOR, as long ago as 1997 when I first arrived in the Solomon Islands, I was concerned about the job prospects of the unemployed young people and since those early years I have become increasingly concerned about the growing numbers of youths without jobs and the increasing voices of the young people to be consulted and to be able to participate as equals in decision making that involves their prospects, livelihoods and especially concerns over land and tenure.

Veteran journalist Alfred Sasako recently reported in the Island Sun newspaper on the closing stages on a Land Summit that was held in Malaita.

The report claimed that young people at the summit had issued what were reported as warnings to political leaders to take their concerns on board, citing leadership amongst the political elite as being a problem.

I can sympathise with the young people having been an observer of their unemployment prospects and their desire, indeed need, for closer involvement in matters that have been brewing for the past 20 years.

Strong language was claimed to have been voiced by some youths at the Land Summit, as recorded by Mr. Sasako and I will not repeat here was attributed to the words of one or two speakers, save to offer one or two comments.

Threats that were insinuated might have been political hyperbole or unpleasantly sharp attacks, but rather too strong for free speech, I thought.

Way back in 2002, the National Youth Policy provided the basis on which efforts to promote youth development would be directed, particularly in its key strategy area, challenges that required immediate actions to be addressed.

The policy provided a framework for the coordination & strengthening of then current youth programmes & activities.

It was seen an important instrument for the cause of youth empowerment to become an integral part of overall development.

Incorporated were guidelines for the purpose of developing programmes in the form of a National Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment.

In view of the now more strident and thought provoking views of the youth, views I would still choose to view as expressions of free speech rather than threats, what plans exist as main components of national youth policy to promote the productive employment of young people and, crucially, how will things change to see their full involvement in consultations and decision making on all matters which involve their lives in every aspect?

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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