Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Report of Concerns of Youths in Malawi

1 Executive summary

1.1 Introduction
Network for Youth Development is a membership network committed to empowering young people to act around youth concerns and play an active role in the development process. The network gives a forum to young men and women from different backgrounds to share ideas, exchange experiences and learn from each other in the struggle for a better life.

Network for Youth Development is a vital and creative youth network in Malawi – Africa with room for all kinds of engagements that are youth related. It is very important that young people use their own abilities to make a difference in their own communities realize that their efforts are necessary and needed.

1.2. Background Information
In November 2006, young people representing youth organisations and groups from Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe had the opportunity to come together, share ideas and experiences. During this process, young people from these countries felt that there is so much in common and want to support each other and cooperate in making a difference in each other’s lives. As a result a regional collaboration process was proposed to take place, in the form of a Regional Youth Hearing. This will give representatives of young people from participating countries the opportunity to express their ideas and concerns to decision makers.

It was further proposed that national youth hearings be conducted in the each participating country and then later a Regional Hearing where all the youth concerns solicited from these countries shall be presented.

It has been further recommended in the recent meeting held in South Africa that all participating countries will send representatives who will meet early 2008 to present their concerns to regional leaders together. This very important gathering is what has been named Youth Hearing. The process will provide a forum where young people from all walks of life use as a channel to present their concerns on the topic “the environment we want”. This will be a grand opportunity to young people from across Southern Africa to bring their problems with some suggestions as solutions to such problems.

It is a fact that young people in Africa as a continent are facing a lot of problems; this is why young people in the southern part of Africa, having similar problems, are coming together in one voice in order to make their region a better place for young people. This is a very important function for Southern African Young People such that they already expressed their commitment and interest by conducting several different programmes with specific country problems. For Example, in Malawi young people conducted a survey on Urbanization and the effects it has on Young people of which the findings disclosed causes of a lot of problems facing the young people. These range from HIV/Aids to unemployment.

A Youth hearing is a gathering where young people will present their concerns and ideas to decision makers and then decision makers will comment and share their views on the concerns presented.

The success of the hearing will depend on the levels of participation. In Malawi a large number of youth organisations and groups were invited to submit their concerns and ideas on the “Environment they Want” to Network for Youth Development which is facilitating the process in Malawi. Based on these concerns and ideas a national hearing will be organized in Blantyre where the collected concerns will be represented to the targeted decision makers. A key person will be invited to chair this event, among others shall have influential people in our societies.

2. Processes of Collecting Concerns in Malawi

2.1 Method of Accessing Concerns
The Youth for Solidarity Movement (Y4SM), a National Steering Committee of South Africa had developed a standardized questionnaire to facilitate getting data from their targeted groups; NfYD also adopted the same and used the same system of using a questionnaire.
Regional briefing meetings with members were conducted in all regions to promote, orient and seek support from all members of the network. This was to ensure that concerns were coming from a national platform.

All the organisations that participated had an opportunity to go around in their constituencies to collect as many concerns as possible, when the process was conducted in all the areas, the compiled questionnaire were submitted to NfYD to compile all the concerns into one document – a report.

2.2 Lead Question on the questionnaire
As a young person, what is it that you need that can contribute to a better life for you?

2.3 Getting Concerns through a Questionnaire
The questionnaire was printed and distributed to member organisations that were going around in their constituencies. In the process they handed over the questionnaires to the respondents in order that respond. In order to accommodate the participants who can not write, the facilitators were asked to guide the respondents through reading the questions interpret them according to the language of choice. Responses would then be written on the questionnaire on their behalf.

2.4 How Long Did the Process Take?
The collection process began in November 2007 when NfYD got financial assistance from Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) to facilitate the whole process of the Hearing, The process took a period of 4 months (November – February) and the responses were collected and captured for analysis.

2.5 Analyzing the Questionnaire
A team of experienced members for NfYD were gathered to capture and analyze all the responses of the collection of youth concerns in all the regions of Malawi.

The questionnaire was in English but other respondents decided to respond in the vernacular (Chichewa) and was included and presented in a summary in English.

2.6 Questionnaires Distributed
NfYD had printed 6,423 questionnaires and distributed across all the three regions of Malawi. All the forms were filled and completed by the informants and NfYD received back all the forms. Though this was an original plan, in other areas they had to re-print the questionnaires due to high demand of the respondents i.e. Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Dedza respondents were members of different youth organisations, students and other youths. An estimation of 1,000 plus or minus questionnaires was a contribution from the youth from these districts.

The findings were analyzed in order to categorize the types of issues, sex, concerns and comments expressed by the various youths. These areas were not obligatory upon the youth because we believed that it is good to get first hand concerns of young people because they are the ones who are affected in their communities.

3 Summary
Young People were asked to present their information which would help classify respondents by the following categories; occupation, age, gender, region, race and area of residence.

No In-put Category
1 Occupation Youth that are;
2 Age Youths between 15 – 30 years
3 Gender Male and female
4 Region South, Central and North
5 Areas Urban, Sub Urban, Rural, Townships, City

3.1 Results of the analysis
Out of 7,423 concerns which were collected and analyzed the following were the results of the summary;
Students: 50%
Employed: 10%
Unemployed: 40%

3.2 Age
Out of the 7,423 respondents, 6,309 (making 85%) were of ages between 15 – 26 years, while 1,114 respondents, (making 15%) were between 27–30 years old

3.3 Gender
Out of the 7,423 respondents; 2,449 respondents (making 33%) were females and 4,974 respondents, (making 67%) were male while one did not indicate their sex.

3.4 Region
Out of the 7,423 respondents; 4,082 respondents (making 55%) were from central region, while 1,855 respondents (making 25%) were from southern region and 1485 respondents (making 20%) from northern region.

3.2 Areas
Out of the 7,423 respondents; 3,340 respondents (making45%) were from urban, 223 respondents (making 3%) from townships, 148 respondents (making 2%) were from sub-urban, while 2,227 (making 30%) were from rural areas and 1,485 respondents (making 20%) were from cities.

3.4 Concerns Raised
The main concerns that young people raised by responding to the questionnaires were summarized as follows;

No Category Percentage Summery of Concern for the Category
1 Education 52.4% Most young people raised various concerns on this topic; they are able to realize that education is a key to success as such they objectively presented concerns. Among notable concerns raised included the recognition of the UDHR article 26 “right to education”.

o Access to schools within the reasonable distance or geographical location from place of residence.
o Access to university Education, Government to introduce more Universities in the country than the present number.
o Resources allocation i.e. Libraries and teachers quality in schools should be improved.
o University and Secondary school fees are not affordable.
o Government should monitor Private schools to improve Quality of education.
o Increase of Tertiary Education and Entrepreneurship Education
2 Job/Employment Opportunity 11.2% Young people expressed the following concerns on Career development, employment and Job opportunities;
o Job experience should not be a must when looking for employees; government must ask employers to introduce and adopt on the Job coaching policies
o Young Entrepreneurs must get financial support from the Government and the private sector in order to set up businesses so as to increase Employment opportunities.
o Possibility of revisiting the retirement age in order to give room to a lot of graduating young people a chance of employment
o Entrepreneurship training and Education must be encouraged to prepare young people a self reliant future
3 Drug and Alcohol abuse 2.1% Young people expressed the following concerns on Drug and Alcohol Abuse
o Calling for the Government to enforce alcohol and beverage bi-laws which restrict young people below the age of 18 to patronize or purchase alcohol
o Control of alcohol and beer drinking venues and shabeens
o Bringing about stiffer punishment for those found in possession and abusing of drugs.

4 Infrastructure Development 2% Young peoples concerns on infrastructure to contribute for the environment they want;
o Government to build more schools especially in the rural areas
o Government should improve access roads to the main roads
o Government and private sector to invest in building Libraries in each District in order to encourage the reading culture for young people
o Government and The Private sector to build more recreation centers for young people in each district
5 Health and HIV related concerns 8.5% Concerns on Health Related issues from young people were as follows;
o Leaders to include young people representatives in decision making forums on health issues
o Young people who are sexually active should access Life planning information, and support
o Life skills to be taken seriously as a need for young people in schools, and there should be qualified teachers for the subject.
o Government should join the Nongovernmental organisations in bringing an end to bad traditional practices that put young people’s life at risk of contracting the HI Virus, STI’s or early marriages.
6 Social Security 2.8% On social security young people had the following concerns;
o Tough punishments for those who Harrass,abuse and violate young people sexually, or physically
o Government to introduce more counseling centers for young people who have found themselves in conflict with the law.
o Government to emphasize on tough measure to combat pornography and information that will confuse and mislead young people

7 Crime 6% Young people expressed the following concerns on Crime;
o Government and Non governmental organisations to revisit and restructure the juvenile justice system to be effective and accessible by all young people without regard to their status.
o Make sure that the young people who have found themselves in conflict with the law must receive proper counseling.
o The Malawi prison service to be a reformatory other than as a punishing institution for young people.

8 Child abuse 11% Young people observed the following as their concerns on Child Abuse;
o Government must make Child Employment (as domestic workers, farm workers),a crime in order to stop the behavior.
o The ministry of Education should apply the same procedures of measuring standards for primary, secondary and pre- schools.
o Stiffer punishments for those who abuse children in any way.

9 Environment 7% Young people also expressed the following on their concerns on environment;
o Leaders to continue sensitizing their people on the importance of planting trees to replace the ones used
o The government and the private sector must introduce recycling plants for Plastics, metal and other materials which are a danger to the environment if just thrown away.

4 Conclusions
NfYD as facilitators for this process in Malawi would like to indicate that this process has provided an opportunity for us to observe certain areas that youths in Malawi find to be a priority and that many stakeholders ought to pay special attention to the concerns raised in this report.

It is very encouraging to note that young people are able to identify education as a very important tool in their lives.

School fees has been raised as a serious concern for the youth, many young people indicated that money is an impediment to their progress in receiving an education, which will usher them to getting a improved life in the near future.
NfYD encourages all the stakeholders in education sector to seriously investigate further to establish means of assisting youths who have a challenge of continuing education because of school fees because denying youths education, we are preparing a doomed future.
Job and employment has been expressed as a necessity to certain factions of youths in order to provide for their survival. Although some were not expressed as a means for direct gain, through families are the youths able to benefit. Job creation is cited as a more serious concern to income based on the feeling that family members can get employed in order to provide for youths financially.

The concern towards HIV/AIDS, being the only exception citing HIV/AIDS at a far more serious tone than any other problem. However, both issues pertain to engagement in unprotected sexual intercourse which leads to young girls falling pregnant and the continuous infections of sexually transmitted diseases.
Programme need to be considered to further raise awareness of this problem and to determine other means
of interventions to highlight the seriousness of this issues.

Many other young people expressed concern towards sports and recreation, which is rated among the top concerns raised. Sports and recreation is cited as a positive alternative to “idle time”, which could deter youth away from engaging in sexual activities or even drug abuse.

5. Recommendations
Malawi is one of the countries which adopts many policies but do not implement such in different fields, most of the issues raised in this report are policy-based and solutions have once suggested and policies developed but still the situation is still not improving.

It is quite important to realize that young people of these days are more advanced in terms of getting development information and are well able to follow what is happening is their countries, as such one has to realize that young people may not stay idle if they see something going wrong, especially in cases that would affect their lives.

It is very imperative to re-examine a compartment of fundamentals next to policies pertaining to education in-order to bring into line with educational concerns as presented within the findings of this report.

This should further integrate study geared towards deducing way for economic support that can be attributed to the Malawian youths for their education and education-related needs. The same approach to policies should be considered for HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy as well as sports and recreation and many other issues affecting young people in Malawi.

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