I have some idea about the National Youth Service (NYS), as I was raised and educated for eleven years by the man who founded and ran Jomo Kenyatta’s NYS at independence in the early 1960s.
Dr. Geoffrey William Griffin, a white Kenyan born in Kenya, was the man and Kenya has now re-named a main road in Nairobi after him. I spent many years here in UK helping raise funds for his beloved Starehe – which was also another form of “Youth Service”, but also highly academic so much so that it became the top school in Kenya (Gambia’s current Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow visited Starehe in the 1970s).
The National Youth Service had 3 aims:-
- Take un-employed youth off the streetsand train them (masons, carpenters, farmers, mechanics, drivers, etc);
- Mould character and instil discipline … and a strong work ethic;
- Instil the idea of nationalism and unity(chosen from all areas and tribes of Kenya, the NYS conscripts lived together as brothers and sister).
Gambia’s proposed compulsory NYS:-
I would respectful suggest that the priority target group should NOT be University Students, but un-employed youth leaving Senior Secondary Schools – with NO opportunity for employment, further education or vocational training.
University students already have a good work ethic, discipline, employment – and a future to look forward to. They do not need to be distracted from their studies, which are also important for National Development, by a compulsory National Youth Service.
But Senior Secondary School graduates with nowhere to go do really need the NYS (it is similar to the training the President’s Award Scheme gives at their Bakau training centre – but on a massive properly funded and organized nationwide scale).
A properly run NYS is expensive!
If Gambia enrols, let us say, 25,000 youths into the NYS, they all have to be housed, fed, uniformed and trained. This is expensive and The Gambia might not be able to afford it – though “Development Partners” may be happy to fund such a programme.
After Dr. Griffin retired, we Africans took over Kenya’s NYS and … yes, a BILLION shilling theft scandal happened there. And after Dr. Griffin died in 2005 (Daily Observer obituary “The Man Died”), Starehe, my alma mater, was also engulfed in a financial scandal.
GAMBIA’s top economist Nyang Njie could be the “compulsory” Director of Gambia’s NYS, Activist Madi Jobarteh the “compulsory” Deputy Director and Alieu “Immortal” Bahcould be the “compulsory” Youth Leader(only boys’ section!). This would keep all three out of mischief.
Notting Hill, London.
PS: Pa, I told you two days ago. The insulted King James is MAAAD! Nuggets will be swept 4-0!