By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
August 25, 2013 (BENTIU) - Dialogue between youth and members of parliament got underway in Unity state on Saturday to discuss challenges faced by young people in the nation-building process.
The dialogue brought together some of the youngest members of parliament from both the state legislative assembly and the national parliament of South Sudan.
The initiative was organised and funded by the US-based National Democratic Institution (NDI), with the aim of bringing together youths from across Unity’s nine counties, as well as providing a platform for young people to express their opinions and concerns to their parliamentary representatives.
Some youth members expressed concerns that youth remained under-represented in both the national and state assemblies.
Youths were also critical of MPs for failing to boost employments opportunity in both public and private institutions.
Bany Reath, a youth member from Unity state, says youths faced serious challenges in terms of education and economic opportunities.
Nyakume Peter Gatkuoth echoed the same sentiments, saying the lack of jobs and the poor depiction of youths in government had slowed their progress.
She said youth were also exclused from participating in the formation of state policy.
Some youth members accused politicians of using them as scapegoats to serve their own personal interests rather than those of the public.
Youth representatives called on the state government to improve on the policy of recruitment, particularly in the NGO sector.
Jany Yak, a member of the state legislature, said youth had an important role to play in the nation’s future in terms of safe-guarding the principles of self-determination and sovereignty,
“We cannot achieve this goal without the roles play[ed] by our young people”, Yak said, adding that MPs in both state and national parliament stood ready to work towards addressing youth issues.
Tebuom Jany Rial, the state minister for culture youths and sport, said the new government was committed to greater youth participation, as well as providing more opportunities in both the private and public sectors.