For many young people given an opportunity to influence development of policies, government initiatives is central to development of the country
and young people see it as an investment in their lives. On many occasions this group is left behind by different stakeholders, partners, institutions, government and private companies but the Day of the African Child reminds us all that young people are the future of today and tomorrow, this was inspired by the youth of South Africa when they protested against apartheid in 1976, as some of the youth were killed by police officials. This day presents an opportunity to focus on the work committed to protect and promote the rights of young people. The 16th of June 2015, at Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) ground, Kanye marked an important turn of events when efforts were made to engage with young people in and out of school to commemorate the day.
The celebration of Day of the African Child was in collaboration with Botswana Student Network (BSN) and Botswana Jobs for Graduates (BW Jobs) with the aim to get views and feedback from young people in reference to family planning and commodities. This event was designed as a youth dialogue involving youth from schools in Kanye at secondary level and out of school young people aged 13 years to 24 years to bring together their collective ideas in relations to family planning commodities. The main goal was to sensitize young people about family planning, also getting them involved on what can be done with regard to family planning, identifying their level of understanding and making recommendations to the government.
Like they say young people of today are so into technology and the youth dialogue provided an opportunity to reach out to young people around the country using social media and traditional media to spread the words to young people about family planning.
The following interesting questions were asked young people during the dialogue: What is family Planning? What are the benefits of using family planning? In Botswana what form of family planning commodities are available? How can we improve access to family planning services? Should there be provision of family planning commodities in schools and community centres? What is your role as an adolescent in terms of family planning and HIV and AIDS? And what recommendations can you make to the relevant stakeholders and government?
From their responses it was clear that young people are still less informed when it comes to issues of family planning. A few numbers of course was aware and also had an understanding about family planning. What they said is key is for different players to do assessments on the ground before any intervention is being implemented to better focus the efforts which can result in impact of the lives of the communities including them as young people. It is very clear
that something needs to be done, with the recent statistics on teenage pregnancy which the country has seen an increase. This was said by a young girl from Nthabiseng secondary school.
One teacher asked the government particularly the Ministry of Education to look at the provision of having period 9 and 10 cancelled, highlighted that this limits organisation to interact with students and this leaves a big gap in addressing young people‟s issues as a collective society. She noted that some of these organisations have experts in different fields and they have been trained and this would be good for students to learn and get experiences which not all teachers can provide.
In closing remarks honorable Councillor Mr Thapelo Pelekekae noted that government needs to engage young people in initiatives, projects, schemes and policies development that are affecting young people, mentioning that such efforts will bridge the gap that exists between young people and government. He further stated that young people will see government as a development partner within their lives and vice versa. In recognition of the importance of organisation such as BOFWA, he stated that work needs to continue to address young people challenges and therefore providing solutions and improving the lives of young people. Let this dialogue not be the only form of engaging young people said the honorable Councillor Mr Thapelo Pelekekae.