We’ve failed youth but there’s still hope

By: GABRIEL DOLAN

The evening news these days should carry a ‘18’ warning from the censorship board due to the vile and inflammatory language spewing out of politicians’ mouths.

News at nine might also consider a mental health warning as it usually makes such depressing viewing.

We are not in a good space as far as integrity, leadership and morality are concerned right now.

There was a time when most believed that corruption was the preserve of the political class.

However, left unattended for decades, the cancer has found its way into the most private and sacred of places, invading even the classroom, house of worship and the home.

I have always advocated that educators and mentors greatest challenge is to teach the nation’s youth that they can acquire a prosperous and comfortable existence through hard work, discipline, honesty and integrity.

But that lesson is becoming a harder sell each day in Kenya.

Honesty, humility, gentleness, simplicity and commitment are values that are scorned by the political elite, so it is almost impossible then to encourage youth to embrace them.

Young Kenyans have become easy prey for cynical election pledges and rogue development programmes.

First there was the commitment to provide laptops for first graders even as most schools lacked textbooks and electricity.

The nation’s young sportsmen and women were also promised five stadiums of international standards to display their talents to the world. That promise, too, evaporated into thin air.

ALARMING INEQUALITY

Then the revamping of the National Youth Service (NYS) became a cover for looting billions.

While the unemployed youth earn Sh400 a day for cleaning sewers and building ‘peace walls’ in north eastern, the Devolution Ministry pays 8,700 for a ball point pen.

The greatest scandal of all was the widespread leakage and pilferage of national examinations.

How can parents and teachers motivate students to spend 12 years studying hard, when success is handed on a plate to those who steal the final examination papers?

That the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) remains in office today is a sad reflection of how corruption, incompetence and negligence are tolerated at the highest level.

Yet choices have consequences and in 10 months time, universities will be admitting illiterate first years while private universities may have to resort to their own admission examinations.

HOPE FOR YOUTHS

Don’t be surprised to read that the KCPE examination of next week is already in the hands of many of the one million candidates.

We face a crisis of morality and the youth are the first victims.

Pope Francis has set aside a special meeting with the youth in Kasarani.

He has declined the state banquet invitation and, by addressing the youth instead of Parliament, he is sending a strong message on priorities and values.

To address a rogue Parliament would be giving honour to a disgraced house.

But spending time with the youth shows the faith and hope he has with this generation.

I share that optimism as Kenya youth can turn round the politics, ethnicity and culture of corruption that is currently holding them hostage.

I hope that the challenge and fire in the belly that Francis gives will be their launching pad.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION