By Robert Tapfumaneyi
A top UN envoy says most youths based in the country’s rural areas were not able to express themselves in proper English while many more have surrendered their future to alcoholism.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Zimbabwe deputy country representative Yu Yu was speaking at a media briefing on the recently launched Demographic Dividend study report.
The report calls for greater investment in young people to reap demographic dividend.
“I have been here (in Zimbabwe) for some time and actually there is one biggest concern for me,” said Yu Yu.
“Zimbabwe is heaven; it’s beautiful, so rich in natural resources and human capital.
“But the biggest risk at the moment is around the young people’s empowerment.
“Just imagine the current crop of the young people. I believe all of you are educated. But if you look at the young generation, the teenagers, the level of competency that is prevailing at the moment is so risky to the future to reach the potential of the government to reap the dividends.
“When I go out to the fields talking to young people in the peri-urban areas of Harare…we noticed one thing. Many of them do not speak good English as compared to the generation of the 40s and 50s.
“Just go and talk to them, the young people in the rural areas, in the peri-urban areas, ask them in English they can’t respond.”
He went on say that most of them were wasting their time drinking beer and not being productive.
“And when I drive along Domboshava road, there is always about 20 young people drunk,” he said.
“There are so many bottle stores and beer halls around that corner. So, this is the young people we are reaping the dividends from.
“So, if we miss these opportunities, you can imagine in the next 20 years and this young generation becomes the backbone of the society.”
Yu Yu said some of them were school dropouts.
“Just look at the number of school dropout at secondary level, for example due to teenage pregnancy, how many young girls are out of school,” he said.
“And other various reasons such as school fees and then there are health issues. So, these are all social issues that prevent young people from accessing to education.
“In much as there are programs such as BEAM to send them to school, we have to make sure that these programs are implemented and results are delivered at the end of the day.”