Rwandan youth learn the ideals of liberation through action | The new times

“WE NEED a rapid shift in the mindset of our young people towards agriculture as a career choice. With the knowledge and technology available, there has never been a better time for young Africans to get involved in agriculture and agribusiness, and to create wealth and well-being, for society as a whole,” President Paul Kagame said at the Green Revolution Forum, 2018.

According to the 2020 population census, about 71% of the total population of Rwanda is under 30 years old. According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) Annual Labor Force Survey Report 2019, 35.3% of youth are actively engaged in market-oriented activities and 57.6% participate in subsistence farming as the next generation of farmers. Currently, there are 487,416 trained, empowered and well-measured young volunteers who are leading youth volunteerism.

Historically, the critical role of youth is strongly embedded in Rwandan culture and tradition; for example, through self-help activities, caring for the weak, and community service delivery in nation-building, especially through youth platforms like Itorero. Itorero was a youth platform and a force multiplier to accelerate solutions to the socio-economic aspirations of the country. However, this situation was disrupted by the advent of colonialism.

Post-colonial governments have mismanaged young people and denied them the opportunity and space to participate in creating a better Rwanda. Instead, they misled the youths into a genocide ideology that culminated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Post-colonial governments divided the youth along ethnic lines and groupings based on a divisive ideology that saw the so-called Tutsi youth completely marginalized, the so-called Hutu youth negatively indoctrinated, while the so-called twa didn’t even know their fate. The regimes of Grégoire Kayibanda and Juvénal Habyalimana fundamentally mismanaged all national programs. The Théodore Sindikubwabo/Jean Kambanda regime implemented the Genocide against the Tutsi and the diverted youth participated in it.

The liberation struggle led by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was aimed at ending the declared ideology of division and bringing the country back to its true foundations of national unity as a prerequisite for national development. RPF youths actively participated at all levels of Rwanda’s liberation struggle which was characterized by high levels of sacrifice and love of the country. It is on the basis of this basis of just thought that, despite their young age, the young people of the RPF joined in large numbers the struggle from all corners of the world to liberate their country.

The liberation struggle was to save Rwandans from the miseries of poverty, slavery of refugees, divisions and violations of human rights. The RPF’s strong leadership and release guidance were key determinants of the release process and a major ingredient of success. And the RPF has since instilled ideological clarity and cause among young people, as evidenced by their active participation in all sectors of Rwandan society. Youth have been nurtured in the values ​​of discipline, diligence, patriotism, sacrifice and using limited resources to achieve more. It is this understanding that has allowed Rwanda to grow from a failed state in 1994 to a famously prosperous country today.

Today, the Rwandan government, through the collective national choices to “think big”, “stay united” and “be responsible”, has equipped the youth with the skills and the right mentality to take charge of the present and the future. future of their country. Young people are effective and well balanced to assume the intergenerational responsibilities conferred on them by current leaders. The government encourages young people who are responsible and accountable for the transformation journey enshrined in the National Transformation Strategy (NST1) and Vision 2050.

Youth in Rwanda have different structures and platforms for sharing information, exchanging ideas, innovating, representing and partnering to find solutions to challenges and take advantage of opportunities. Established youth structures include national youth councils that range from village to national level. In local government administration, young leaders are elected to actively participate in decision-making processes. In addition, there are two youth representatives in the National Parliament and another youth representative in the East African Legislative Assembly. In addition, youth have a national youth council secretariat for their coordination and a policy-level ministry to ensure that youth aspirations are well mainstreamed in all government policies and programs.

Access to finance

Besides the above, there are many other youth platforms such as “Youth Meet the President”, “YouthConnekt”, “Youth Hubs” and “Intergenerational Youth Dialogue”, used to share wisdom, experiences and innovations in order to agree on actions and solutions to their aspirations. These platforms and structures have helped mainstream youth policy and the legal framework to meet the aspirations of young people. One of the main political achievements is that the aspirations of young people have been mainstreamed into the broader national vision, policies and strategies for socio-economic transformation.

For example, the government of Rwanda has launched local solutions for youth employment, including; Business Development Fund (BDF), which aims to stimulate youth entrepreneurship. The BDF provides collateral to young people at 75% of the total loan and helps them access subsidized loans. In addition, there are youth employment mainstreaming projects in all sectors; for example, the road maintenance program. The program provides road maintenance contracts to youths to regularly maintain unpaved feeder roads across the country. Up to 153 youth-led enterprises are implementing the program in their respective districts and 7,760 youths have benefited as casual workers in the routine maintenance of unpaved roads, while 467 youths are employed as engineers, technicians and accountants on a permanent employment basis.

In addition, the Ministry of Youth and Culture, through BDF, provided working capital equivalent to Rwf 1 million to each participating company, with a total of Rwf 153 million transferred to BDF and disbursed. to businesses. Also, as part of the national skills development and promotion strategy, which is part of the national employment program, 101/153 companies received equipment through micro-leasing, i.e. say small compactors and wheelbarrows.

Youth interventions

In addition, there are Youth Eco-Brigades – which are a brand of youth cooperatives working for the protection of the environmental ecosystem, one of the government initiatives to preserve the environment as well as create opportunities for green jobs for young people. Currently, the program employs around 10,000 young people in Karongi, Muhanga and Ngororero districts, and it includes the planting of trees, terraces, etc.

Some international and local partners have also stepped forward to complement these government efforts towards youth empowerment. Some of the international partners include; One UN, Digital Opportunity Trust-Rwanda, MasterCard Foundation, World Vision and VSO, with local partners including Imbuto Foundation.

In the 2021/2022 financial year alone, the Rwanda Youth Community Police Volunteers (RYVCP) constructed, maintained and rehabilitated 2,061 kilometers of unpaved roads across the country, worth RWF 7 billion. In the Northern Province alone, 28 youth enterprises with 1,000 members maintain 332.54 kilometers of roads for RWF 655 million.

According to a report by the Rwandan Youth Community Police Volunteers published on July 16, 2021, the activities carried out by the RYVCP during the 2020/21 financial year were valued at Rwf 2.944 billion. These activities included the construction of 1,175 housing units for vulnerable families, the renovation of 788 houses for the poor, the construction of 4,558 toilets, the installation of 7,947 hand washing stations, the rehabilitation of 20,850 m3 of terraces , planting 92,960 fruit trees and providing health insurance to 6,436 people, provided face masks to 30,397 vulnerable families, among others.

In addition, a report published on June 9, 2022 on vegetable gardens built by the RYVCP shows that young volunteers built 223,944 vegetable gardens in 2022, of which the City of Kigali has 18,052; Northern Province 44,305; Southern Province 54,596, Western Province 54,266; and Eastern Province 52,725. In Northern Province, young volunteers have performance contracts to be delivered in FY 2022 and these include; control of soil erosion on 89 hectares, 89 new houses, and to rehabilitate 178 houses for vulnerable people, to build 1,242 new toilets and to rehabilitate 4,140 old ones for poor elderly people and to create 8,229 centers of home-based early childhood development to promote good nutrition among many other activities. The RYVCP also plays a key role in community mobilization and sensitization in the fight against malnutrition, stunting, Covid-19, drug addiction, campaigns to promote family planning, teenage pregnancy, delinquency and campaigns against dropping out of school.

These achievements are a testimony and a demonstration of what a mobilized youth can do under visionary leadership.

The author is Executive Secretary, Northern Province.

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