“The youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow”. These are the lyrics we have always heard from our leaders in their speeches with regards to the youth of our nation, and how true this statement is, at this present juncture. It is something that government through its different ministries is seriously pondering on. The true fact is that things cannot continue to take on the spiraling trend, it is very doubtful whether we will have any future leaders at all! Having said that we have to remain optimistic, for after all it is the future of our nation we have to consider. Government has done so much for the youth but sadly not all have availed of the opportunities. If the situation is blinking now, it will be inconsiderate to blame government. But we have to keep on working together to redress the situation.
With all the ills of society nowadays such as alcohol and drugs abuse, teenage pregnancy, prostitution, lack of respect and discipline towards our elders, bullying in schools, crimes etc…, many people have been asking what has become of the youths of today as well as where have we gone wrong. The government on its part is trying to brainstorm on what measures to take, in order to turn things around before matters gets out of hand. The problems facing our adolescents these days are very worrying, even if there are no nationwide outcries and unless something drastic is undertaken, this situation may very well develop into anarchy like many countries worldwide.
Much has taken place in our country since the times of the past. Today Seychelles has been transformed from an ill poverished island to one which has developed considerably in almost all important sectors. The Seychelles of today is completely different from the one which existed before, when the first settlers set foot on our shores. People who frequently visit the National Archives will pay adherence to this testimony, but the price we’ve had to pay at the expense of our youth has been costly. For gone are the days when our youth used to live in harmony, play together in a spirit of “camaraderie’, respect one another, were always attending church activities, were afraid of a policeman, were always courteous and respected the elderly. Those were the days when all was well as our parents were the pillar of our existence so they were well respected and feared.
But as time passed, circumstances and mentalities gradually changed and slowly the goodness which existed then became something of the past which if we could revive, many would hurry back to. The youth of today are generally compared to the negative of the past, so what has gone wrong!
Since the revolution of 5th June 1977, many things have happened which have helped with the transformation of our youth. When the government introduced the National Youth Service (NYS) in 1981, the idea behind such an initiative was to help nurture well behaved, disciplined, and responsible future members of society. Many who were against the idea at the time, and refused to enroll their children deeply regret their decisions and now wished that the institution wasn’t abolished after all, especially when they envisage the precarious situation facing our youths today.
The very fact is it is now; the majority of those very people who attended the NYS have realized their true potential in our current development, as well as the vision and aspirations of our founding President France Albert René as most are responsible members of our society.
The advent of technology and the information super highway (internet) in 1991 brought along a very negative influence which has helped pollute many sectors of our society to this day. Whilst technology has helped in various sectors such as communication, education, entertainment, transportation amongst others, it is its negative influence on our youths which has gained prevalence. It is not only in Seychelles. We all know that the youth is the most important as well as the most fragile segment of our society since they alone determine the future leadership and working base of the nation. When people play with this segment of our population, there are bound to be catastrophic consequences.
Outside influence through technological means have immensely moulded the behavior of our young at a very young age. Whilst some of them will tend to develop an inclination to computer addiction and rarely indulge in activities organized for their age groups, others tend to display various inhibitive behaviors such as rap dancing as well as indecent bopping amongst other vulgar public inhibitions which in turn has given rise to juvenile delinquency as well as other negative tendencies. This behavior is seen as normal by a considerable segment of our teenage population and is a frequent occurrence at public places, beaches parties, musical shows and discotheques where alcohol, drugs and underage sex are frequent.
The government in place has instituted organizations in place such as the Council of the Children which fight for the rights of the child, good parenting values, and future responsibilities because at a tender age children are vulnerable. However the perception of “Children Rights” at such a delicate period in their lives, through to adolescence should be limited to a certain degree, since they fall under the responsibility of their parents until reaching adulthood (18 years). We know very well that this is not the case in this day and age because of the rights they think they have, teenagers are committing crimes just like the adults and since the law applies only to the adults, may teenagers hide behind “their rights”. Some critics will tell you that the youths of today are so infatuated and obsessed with their rights that they tend to forget the rights of other members of society, as well as that of the government which is doing is utmost to defend their rights in the first place are also paramount.
Another institution is the Youth Council which has the difficult task of organizing, sensitizing, counselling the teenage sector, and one of its primary objectives is to keep our juveniles far away from the negative influences of society as much as possible. Through the Youth Center, they organize various activities in collaboration of the various schools and other organizations with that perspective in mind.
Other institutions such as the Scouts Association, the President’s Award Schemes and CARE, are also playing an important role in addition to the various activities they organize such as voluntary expeditions, camps, sporting activities, public speaking, cultural activities, international correspondences, they assist in keeping our youth occupied in doing something responsible and positive that benefits society.
Seychelles being a religious nation has for a very long depended on religious conviction to play a major role in the realization of good parenting, respect for God and people, something which is slowly eroding. With very few teenagers attending religious activities or spiritual ceremonies these days, this is further evidence that the positive influence that religion had on our youths of the past, is slowly diminishing. Furthermore religion which formed an integral part of the school curriculum years ago, and not that much anymore, is just helping to exhasterbate the situation. But again, all is not lost in that aspect, the Church is targeting the youths to help make the needed change.
The problems of the youth nowadays are extremely complicated and involves many issues which need to be addressed and the sooner the better for our country. One of the most imperative characteristic is good parenting something which is lacking nowadays as a result of teenage pregnancies. Many children are born out of wedlock (we are not judging), through unwanted sex, prostitution, very often at a very young age or without parental experience. Many of their offspring will eventually end up in orphanages (if they are lucky), without good parenting and counseling which makes their future uncertain. As they fight their way through adolescence to adulthood, they are bound to fall by the wayside if they ever fall prey to the ills of society.
But all is not lost because the Parti Lepep government is doing the utmost to try and figure out solutions to this problem even if many want the measures to fail. President Faure has spoken about this in his State of the Nation Address putting emphasis on family. The Youth department has also spelled out a good strategy as it works to reap some good benefits for the youths and the country. We have to bear in mind however this bleak picture of our youth does not apply to everyone since there are still many responsible parents out there who have brought up responsible citizens and we raise our glasses to them as they are the beakers of hope. The setting up of the new ministry which will help insure good parenting amongst one of its priorities is no doubt a step in the right direction; however the challenges facing Minister Jeanne Simeon are enormous, so she will need all the support she can muster. Since her ministry will have to deal with several other ministries, political and non-governmental organizations and religious denominations, it is anticipated that resources will be plentiful at her disposal, but good communications and understanding will be primordial and if they will all work in close collaboration something positive will ultimately come out of this whole exercise, since the success of her ministry will be of great benefit for the upcoming development of the youth of our country.
Like many pertinent issues facing the government, the youth problem is a national problem and demands a national response if we want things to take a turn for the better. It is our responsibility to care for our future generation and our response today will indicate how sincere and serious we are in doing so. Let us make it our solemn oath to be the beacon of hope which our youths nessicitate as they thread the murky corridors of their lives.