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Understanding the youth
The youth is a delicate group to communicate with. In her work as a musician Joanita Kawalya Muganga has been involved in many awareness activities targeting the youth. She has been successful by packaging the information in ways that relates to them.By Joanita Kawalya Muganga
15. July 2007
Anywhere in the world youth are the future of their community, and it is important to consider the youth in the planning processes and ensure that they get involved in building their country. But in order to plan and get them involved in the activities, one has to know how to communicate to them. Most times communication with the youth is not a straightforward matter. It needs research, planning and empathy to understand how to communicate to this interesting group.
Try being accommodative
Young people seem to have a mind of their own. They will always want to have it their way even if this might not be the best option. To get their points rightly taken, adults need to use a careful approach, which does not come across as being dictatorial and harsh but rather accommodative and discursive. This is to ensure that the youth feel respected and completely understand the choices between right and wrong.
The same applies to getting youth involved in activities like national duties and awareness campaigns. In my work as a musician, I have been involved in many awareness activities targeting the youth in areas like HIV/AIDS, hygiene and family planning. Whereas I am not of their age group or cannot be considered to be a youth, I have always succeeded in reaching out to them by packaging the information in ways that relates to them.
Joanita Kawalya - PR Photo
Listen to the youth
This in many cases involves allowing the youth to speak out and getting them involved in the messages. The youth always want to be associated with specific people that they can identify with; they want to have role models. And in most cases the role models have to be young people themselves, somebody the youth have something in common with or someone who has a certain style or inspirational advice which the youth can relate to.
However to a large extent, the voices of the youth in this country have been ignored. The youth have been left behind in many of the national planning strategies such as governance, conflict resolution and poverty eradication. There is a long held perception that young people are not interested in these issues. I think this is where the country has gone wrong. It is important that we devise ways of getting the youth to participate in voting. This can be done by allowing and encouraging more young people, both boys and girls, to run for national offices.
In conflict areas, the youth have always been used and manipulated as a raw material to keep rebel insurgencies going; they have been abducted and forced to fight. However none of the conflict resolution strategies are targeting the youth, the same applies to poverty eradication. The youth are a large mass that is very active and strong. However there seems to be no national strategy that is meant to equip them with skills and resources to be able to earn a living. This way many remain idle and easy prey for politicians and war mongers.
Learning from each other
Finally it is important to encourage the youth to learn from each other when it comes to finding the best practices and sharing experiences. By listening to fellow youth, who have gone through particular experiences like bad or good career choices and early marriages, the youth will be able to make informed choices.
Joanita Kawalya Muganga is an artist, teacher and parent. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Source: National Youth Council Statute 1993, The 1995 constitution of Republic of Uganda.
According to United Nations, youth are defined as between the ages 15 and 24. Approximately one billion youth live in the world today. This means that approximately one person in five is a youth, or 18% of the world’s population are “youth”. The majority (almost 85%) of the world’s youth live in developing countries, with approximately 60 percent in Asia alone.
Source - http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/qanda.htm