By Cherno Omar Bobb
The Programme Manager for the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), Yusupha Bojang, has expressed said the believe that no meaningful development, sustainable peace and democratic maturity can be attained if young people are left behind.
Speaking at the opening of a-6-day training for out-of-school youth on leadership, civic rights and duties, to prepare them for transition to adulthood and citizenship, organised by NCCE and funded by UNICEF, Mr. Bojang said it is within the framework of their mandate to create and sustain awareness of constitutional democracy for the achievement of political, economic and social stability through civic education. He adds that they had over the years intensified their activities through mass media and country-wide public sensitisations on many critical issues such as national dialogue for democratic governance, tolerance and reconciliation.
Bojang further said that the activities were gearedtowards enlightening citizens especially women and young people in rural communities on the ethos of democracy and good governance as well as promote dialogue and reconciliation to ensure peaceful coexistence in the country.
The theme for the training workshops being held in different locations in the Provinces; Mansakonko and Kwinella in Lower River Region, Wassu and Janjanbureh in Central River Region, Nyakoi/Taibatuand Basse in Upper River Region, is “Catching them Young: cementing patriotism and responsible citizenship among young people”.
The trainings are designed to provide youth information on leadership, civic rights and duties as a means of enabling and enhancing young people’s participation in matters of governance and enhance a culture of constitutionalism where citizens uphold and defend the highest law of the land. They are also aimedat promoting patriotism, responsible citizenship and civic consciousness as well as leadership skills among young people who are the future of the country, in an effort to prepare them for their transition to adulthood and positively contribute to national development.
“The NCCE attaches great significance to the participation of young people in our governance processes. It is an understatement to say young people are the cream of the society and have a critical role to play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and peace building,” Bojang said. He further expressed NCCE’s commitment to double its effort as they embark on preparing for the 2021 general elections,saying there is need to provide the information required for the electorate particularly young people to make informed decisions based on issues rather than sentiment and to prevent unnecessary disputes.
“We will also continue with our determination to build and consolidate a mature political culture in which all citizens regardless of gender and age are more aware of, and fully exercise their rights and responsibilities, as well as participate effectively in nurturing and broadening our nascent democracy”, he added.
Bojang said the democratic triumph that brought to an end two decades rule of the former regime and ushered in a new political dispensation has proven that establishing and sustaining democratic rule anchored on the principles of freedom and rule of law could be quite challenging as being currently experienced in the new political climate fondly called the New Gambia.
He said the understanding of the meaning and practice of democracy has an injurious impact on the future of the country, as uninformed citizens with scant knowledge of how to exercise their democratic rights use derogatory remarks in the discussion of politics, and thus resulting to some ill behaviours and isolated cases of high tension and fracas in different parts of the country.
This, according to Bojang, tends to discourage free and fair participation in the political process and lead citizens to entertain the notion that democracy is divisive and a threat to the peace country.