Mmegi Blogs :: We need a Ministry of Youth
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Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
We need a Ministry of Youth

I was in the car listening to a person from the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development talking about the President’s Day Awards and how they are geared toward the youth and are considered a youth initiative.
By Lauri Kubuitsile Fri 16 Mar 2018, 12:15 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: We need a Ministry of Youth

This was a radio programme about the youth, so perhaps this person was pulling everything out of his hat in the hope of showing how much that ministry is doing for young people. But when I heard it, I was disappointed.

I’ve written here before about my thoughts on the President’s Day Awards. Basically I think they are a populist initiative, like so many with this administration, that is not developed through thorough research into the problem, but rather from a position to increase popularity by dishing out money. It is not sustainable and has made no impact in any integral way to the arts in this country. Now, apparently, if we’re to believe this man, it was never meant to help the arts, but only to assist the youth.

So, really this showcase initiative for the support of the arts, these awards, was never meant to help the arts in any case, so in that instance it has been successful. I think all of us can agree that the problems facing the youth in the country are huge. Unemployment and underfunded education are at the foundation of the many other ills that flow from those two. My hope is that the new Botswana Democratic Party administration will see that these connected problems need their own ministry: the Ministry of Youth.

But the other problem I have with what I heard on the radio and with the throwing together of arts, culture and sport with the youth, is the idea that sport and art are seen as games best given to the young people to occupy their time while they are sorting out the more important adult business of their lives. This is why someone from the ministry can say that the President’s Day Awards are for the youth, maybe not because it was ever stated outright, but because such things are play, and play is for the young ones.

This sort of attitude, sadly endemic in the country, is what blocks the arts from succeeding. We need to shift our collective mind. Separating the youth into their own ministry will help; it will help both sides


of this problem. The challenges youth face could be looked at in the holistic way that they exist.

Transactional sex, for example, is a problem for the youth leading to more problems such as female genocide and HIV/AIDS. This is caused by low wages and widespread unemployment, which is exacerbated by poor quality and underfunded education.

Throwing games and drawing at this problem is nothing but a Band-Aid trying to stop up a life-threatening wound. You look as if you’re doing something, but the person is going to die anyway.

 Of course on the other hand, art, culture, and sport can be professional careers. They can lead to job creation. They can increase tourism. They can bring pride to the country.

They can be developed into sustainable industries that can add to our Gross Domestic Product. Culture includes the important work of saving and documenting our past and present in archives and museums. Have you been to our museums lately? They are on life-support. We should be ashamed. A place tourists would want to visit and where the country’s history is kept safe has been nearly lost because of underfunding and lack of support.

We need thorough, widespread research into arts, culture, and sport. What is lacking? What works? What support can be given by government to push the industries to the next level? We do not need money thrown willy-nilly in all directions. Our resources are limited and they must be used effectively and, in the best case scenario, each pula should do double or triple duty.

This can only be accomplished with knowledge of each sector and its problems. We must find exciting and new solutions that solve sector-wide problems not just the dishing out of money so that if you happen to be on the radio you’ve got something to show for yourself.

How our challenges are divided into their various ministries is an important indication of how the time and attention of the government is parcelled out. It is time to rethink our position regarding this problematic ministry, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport, and Culture Development and refocus our attention more effectively.

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