Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The National Youth Council a Mirage or a Reality in Kenya!

The National Youth Council a Mirage or a Reality in Kenya!

Emmanuel Dennis

September 23rd 2009

I was following the discussions around the national Youth Council bill in parliament and the turn of events left me wondering how on earth are we going to protect and promote the values of our young generation. This thought has left me wondering for the longest time. I am confused and I need some help here. 

The National Youth Council should be  an independent oversight body that ensures all young people in Kenya are given the opportunities to excel. Politicians are however trying as much to overtake the process and make it work for themselves and their short term political interests. I was researching on the developments in Singapore, a country that overtook Kenya in its economic development a few years ago and has continued to prosper in all fields as Kenya walks back into history of the yester years. I made a few discoveries, may be we have a few lessons to learn from Singapore in creating a path for our own council here in Kenya

The National Youth Council (NYC), a division of the People's Association, was set up by the Singapore government on 1 November 1989 as the national co-coordinating body for youth affairs in Singapore.
Mr Teo Ser Luck, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Transport is the Chairman of the National Youth Council. The Council comprises members from various government ministries, youth organizations, academic institutions, voluntary welfare organizations, the media and private sector organizations.

It is the Advocate, Connector and Enabler for Youth. Together with other partners, the council develops a vibrant and supportive environment for youth who are inspired to dream and committed to action.
The National Youth Council:

(a) Advocates active youth citizenry - engagement, leadership and voice for issues - through programming, resources, funding and recognition.

(b) Connects the youth sector for increased youth outreach, through creating opportunities and access, both local and overseas.

(c) Enables the development of youth and the youth sector, through training and capacity building.

NYC is the administering body for the Singapore Youth Award, Outstanding Youth in Education Award, and is the liaison body with ASEAN and international organizations on youth development.

We are closing in slowly on the year and the bill is scheduled for the second reading in parliament sometimes this year. We still have an opportunity to salvage the situation and make recommendations at the committee stage. But for sure we have a few lessons to learn from. But the question is

Are we going to save the situation from the hungry politicians that have characterized our political scene?

On the other hand, the Youth Enterprise and Development Fund Board is supposed to be replaced by the end of this year. My question to the youth is have we made recommendations on what we need the board to look like? Or are we waiting until they appoint a board with retirees then we begin to wine and complain about it once the executive decisions have been made?

Let us step up our quest to make our voices heard.


  1. ED,

    Your answer lies in the results of the discussions this guys had in parliament. I wouldn’t ask whether the youth council thing is a mirage, I would instead be asking whether policy makers have internalized the concept of NYC.

    Kindly find attached the Hansard for 27th August 2009 for the proceedings on the motion for the passing of the second reading. Refer to pages 32-48 for the discussion. I thought the discussions were quite positive to the extent that the politicians themselves were fronting grass root elections for the council however they were equally shall with a lot of people generalizing the council with other matters pertaining to youth e.g boda boda, cleaning up Nairobi River and staff. I like the direction the discussions took though. At least we are assured of elections.

    Mungatana was however disappointing…! Read and you will see what I mean….. Stella Agara

  2. Hi Emmanuel and All,

    A unified voice on our position as young people to the world is timely to make this a Reality.

    Different groups are working hard to lobby policy makers on this bill to ensure that all our concerns are factored in and ammendments made to the final bill On the 28th July Youth Agenda for example, conveened a caucus meeting for young people and selected Members of Parliament at the Nairobi Safari Club in order to deliberate on contentious issues that the youth have identified regarding the National Youth Council (NYC) Bill. After deliberations among young people and later in consultation regarding their concerns on the NYC Bill with parliamentarians, consensus on the areas needing amendment in the Bill and on the way forward was reached.

    Areas in the Bill requiring amendments

    · The participants took issue with the size of the Youth Advisory Board which at a membership of 21 officials is so much bigger than the council. The sheer size brought to the fore the questions as to the value a large advisory council adds to the NYC and whether it has more powers than the executive board. It was recommended that the bill should specify the criteria for appointment to the advisory council and the age to enhance representation.

    · It was agreed that the First Schedule as appears in the NYC Bill must be revised to reflect the October 2006 draft NYC bill that was made in consultation with the Youth, Department of Social Services, International Councils of National Youth Policies and National Youth Councils and GTZ PROSYR.

    · The same version provides for grassroots representation from Sub location level up to the national level. Such representation should be included in the NYC Bill of 2009 as that is the only way to ensure regional recognition, facilitation and allocation of resources. As such, there should be an NYC office and budget located at the district level, and Constituency Youth Centres should house the District Youth Council.

    · The NYC must be mandated to second a youth to every decision making organ in the country. An example was given where there is women representation from the Maendeleo ya Wanawake organization in the Land board, District Education Board, District Development Committee and the Census committees, and in the same way, young people should be represented in such positions.

    · Section 5(1) provides that the Council chairperson should be appointed by the Minister. Participants proposed that youth organizations suggest a list of nominees from which the Minister should appoint the chairperson. Examples where this is practiced were given as the Anti corruption Advisory Committee and the Constitution of Kenya Review Committee (CKRC) ACT which have listed nominating organizations.

  3. · The 2008 version of the NYC Bill which had not been brought before the Attorney General’s s office had 8 persons appointed by the minister into the council unlike the new one which has 6(Section 5(1)b). This ensured representation from the 8 provinces and it should be included on the new bill. It also had a provision on gender representation and this should also be included in the 2009 NYC Bill. In addition, a criterion for these nominations should be inserted that demands an appointee to have had previous experience in youth initiatives.

    · Section 5(2) that enumerates the qualifications of a chairperson should include a clause that provides for the age of the chairperson to be between 18 and 35. This is the age of youth according to the Bomas draft constitution, and once the Bill embraces this, the NYP which puts the age as 15-30 will be amended to reflect the same.

    The Bill is now at the commitee stage hosted by the departmental commitee on labour and social welfare. YAA and AYT are in close consultation with the chair of the committe Hon Sophia Abdi and will have a meeting with her and other members of that commitee to share all the concerns raised by young people in this forum and other ongoing consultations by youth groups.

    What Emanuel brings out is very important since our idea is to have best practices incorporated in our reform agenda. It will be a good idea to have us sychonize and make the suggestions to the commitee. Hon Sophia has also promised to have youth representatives accompany her when they will be discussing the bill with the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Africa Youth Trust had started this dicussions with Hon Sambili and we are optmistic that our hardwork to save this country will not be in vain

    Lets keep trying. We are doing the right thing and we should make NYC a Reality..... There is Hope!!!!!
    Keep the dicussion going
    Kind Regards
    Susan Kariuki

  4. Hello all,
    Susan and Stella thanks for the updates.
    My one request is that you keep us/on NYC more in the loop on AYT and Youth Agenda's lobbying efforts.
    As youth from across the country we would then speak in one voice on the issues whenever opportunity presents itself.And as I am sure you are aware politicians listen when people outside Nairobi/mashinani raise issues. This how we strengthen the movement.We do appreciate your efforts and keep the info flowing as well as any suggestions for action that youth groups can lead in drumming support for the Youth Council we really want.
    On a second equally important score, can we all begin to identify qualified young Kenyans to sit on the Youth Fund Board?There is no harm in making proposals to MoYAS,before we are time barred.In which case we don't whine about not being consulted after the fact but rather argue that Govt does or does not take youth seriously based on their action following our submission of a long list from which they select those to represent youth interests on the Board.


  5. Colleagues,

    Allow me to add in more thoughts. Having read the Hansard, I do agree
    with Stella, Hon Mungatana was disappointing. Also, the MPs are not
    all clear on the National Youth Council it's mandate and appropriate
    constitution. Nonetheless, for those who seem to have internalized it
    including Hon Oparanya they served well to inform and educate the
    rest. Interestingly, it's the "old" men who are clear on the the need
    for this Council.

    I would suggest that among our strategies of engagement (in addition
    to sharing information across the country) is to target MPs with
    information on the Council and its mandate. Everyone in this forum has
    the ear of an MP or two and I am sure can make an effort to give them
    National Youth Council mandate 101! It would help them focus and
    separate from issues of the YEDF, boda boda, kazi kwa vijana (except
    in context Michuki mentions in times of appropriate advice on how to
    engage young people).

    I look forward to participating in the consultative session with the
    Committee on Labour and Social Welfare once AYT/YAA and partners
    arrange to host the meeting(s).

    Kind regards


  6. Sonia's second paragraph does say it all.

    The old are interested, the young are not?! We will work with whichever MP
    is interested in the Council. Our responsibility is to however build numbers
    in support for our stand. So talk to your MP.

    If you do nothing, then accept whatever council you will get. From the look
    of things this council will not be shot down. We are definitely getting a
    council, my only worry is what kind!



  7. Thanks Stella for sharing very useful resources. I salute your efforts and commitment with honor and humility. From the Hansard report, it is evident that there is good-will for the establishment of the national Youth Council. There is need therefore to build on the gains generated so far not by blaming or criticizing but rather by expressing gratitude to the members of parliament who supported the bill and secondy by continued engagement and dialogue around issues germane to the refinement of the Bill. I suggest NYC should write to these exemplary members of parliament as well as possibly host a further consultative meeting on the next steps in so far as the bill is at issue. All in all, kudos for the good progress. Best wishes always,

    Ochieng M.K
    Phone Number (Office) +254-20-3861530/1
    Cell Phone Number:+254-723-745-817

    "We can nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth" Abraham Lincoln

  8. Why dont you people storm the offices of the various warlords- Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo, Raila and Ruto and lobby them personally to whip their sycophants to support NYC? The simama kenya lot, especially kiema may also come in handy?

  9. Poeple,
    I have just read the Hansard and I am not sure why so much negative Vibe
    about Mungatana. He only raised a procedural issue and did not contribute on
    the substance of the Bill. Secondny , Eugene is young and supported the
    As Stella says in her last paragraph, the chnaces of getting a council are
    very high. Young people should therefore lobby MOPs to ensure that critical
    amendments are made to the Bill before passage and that is why the effort by
    AYT and YAA are commendable.

    If young peole focuss, pull together and lobyy hard and smart, there is hope
    that a good council,can come from the august house.
    Collins Odote

  10. Good people,
    Susan, your issues are spot on. We need to point them out and ensure we have all the support in terms of numbers and voice to ensure those amendments are carried into the bill. The problem is that only limited amendments are permissible. Lets carry on the lobbying.

    Stella raises key issues and i think, we have the voice and will to ensure we determine what kind of Council we will get. If we continue the discussion and engage the MPs then they will give us what we want. I am in agreement with Mwalulu that we should directly target the War lords. I am volunteering my self, and i want more volunteers so that we can purpose to meet Raila, Uhuru, Ruto, Balala, Kalonzo. In the first and second week of October in order to drum up support for the council. I am also availing my self to be part of the team that will meet Hon Sophia Abdi as they meet with the Minister MOYAS and deliberately make the recommendations at the Committee Level.

    I second Sonia's suggestion that Youth Agenda and AYT keep us in the loop on all the developments so that we are able to make the necessarily objective voices into the debate. Engaging the youth at the mashinani is critical, we have a number of local initiatives going on, let us make those forums, encompass the NYC discussions.

    Mungatana was not out of order, I was also having the same feeling when I was reading Oparanya's contribution.

    Sonia, on the suggestion of compiling names for the YEDF Board, can we come up with a mechanism to do that, and can we give our selves a timeline to have the names submitted to the Ministry? They say Fortune favors the bold. Let us all be bold on this, we wont lose it.

    I am giving this process my all.


  11. ED

    Whether we save the bill or not, I think the worrying point is how we can create public awareness to ensure that nearly all the youths that the bill touches are at the same level and speaking the same thing. The fact that quite a number are not even aware that the bill is already in parliament is alarming. And same applies to youth enterprise development fund.

    Be it that we don't make it to salvage the bill from the greedy politicians, the next best option is to brand ourselves and do something screaming even without the bill. When we outdo them surely, next time it will be them looking for us and worried about our next move and not us worried about what they have in mind for us.