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The Youth Challenged to Be Part of Policy Formulation Process

by KT Press Reporter
10:53 am

A US Embassy official has asked Rwandan youth to play a critical role in contributing to the country’s vision of equity and participation for all in policies and development programs.

Jamie Dragon, the Program Officer, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Embassy in Rwanda was speaking at the 5th Edition of National Youth Policy Dialogue 2023 held in Kigali this week.

Dragon said the embassy appreciated the youth dialogue initiatives as a tool that can encourage active citizenship leading justice and contribution of all.

“Practicing the norms of active citizenship and participation in governance not just for one’s own benefits but for the good of the community and country is a critical building block to the rule of law and prosperity,” Dragon said.

Dragon stated that in the same vein, youths as future leaders, to have a firm commitment to good governance to ensure that all people are protected and accountable under the law is another way they can build a better future.

The 5th Edition of the youth dialogue held in Kigali brought together 270 youths from across the country to discuss their role in policies under the theme: “Inspire, Engage, Connect”.

The two days meeting was organized by Citizen Voice and Actions (CVA)- a local organization that focuses on inclusive governance and rights and youth engagement, in partnership with Plan International Rwanda and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The dialogue aimed at giving youth safe spaces to articulate their views and amplify voices in relation to their policy needs as young people.

Article 27 of the 2003 Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda as revised in 2015 and 2023, provides that every citizen, youth-inclusive, has the right to participate in the development process of the country.

CVA Chairperson Jackson Tuyisenge said that for seven years, CVA Rwanda has been promoting youth engagement through different models, including, inclusive, youth dialogue, Generation Leadership Academy, School of Dialogue and Friday Campus debate among others.

Tuyisenge said that this methodology inspires, motivates and empowers youth to be catalysts of change in providing solutions for governance and engage in contributing or finding solutions to development policies and challenges.

Tuyisenge said that despite the progress made by the government to create an enabling environment for youth participation, evidence suggests the youth participation in local governance processes is still sub-optimal.

CVA evaluations show that local authorities do not directly engage or approach youth properly to give them time to participate in decision-making, and another reason is the low youth awareness and participation in the implementation of government policies and programs including the budget planning process.

For instance, he cited studies, including one by Never Again Rwanda (NAR) into factors contributing to low citizen participation in the local government performance contracts’ process (Imihigo) found district budgets are generally not responsive to youth needs and priorities.

Tuyisenge revealed that CVA collected youth views in 15 districts and 5 universities on want to be included in the 2024/2025 budget and the biggest existing challenges is that many didn’t have information about the budget planning process.

“We want to see more youth engagement in budget planning processes and government development programs, that is why we organize such dialogues to share knowledge,” Tuyisenge said.

Dr. Ismael Buchanan, a Rwanda economist said that the level of knowledge on the national budget among youth is not satisfactory and a good number of young people who have no idea or don’t want to know because they care less.

“The level of knowledge is not very satisfactory but if we say the youth are the future we should question the extent of the role of leaders in engaging them to this effect,” Buchanan said.

Most of the youth who attended the dialogue said it was educational and the lack of knowledge on national budget matters is a fact but such dialogues should be disseminated in other forms to reach many.

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