Former Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is currently in the country has warned that young people who are being churned out of universities into the streets without jobs are fast growing impatient.
Sirleaf is celebrated as Africa’s first ever female president and served two terms (2006-2018), was the first female chair of the Economic Community of Western States (ECOWAS) and is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
“On average, 60% of our population 35 years and under, with school leaving increasing the numbers of those that are ready for jobs and job opportunities not growing fast, not expanding fast enough to be able to absorb them, that’s an issue that’s facing different degrees in most of our countries.”
“The passion for our young people for participation in all aspects of our lives, how are they going to be patient enough as we prepare them for leadership and how will some of them respond because they don’t have that patience and they want to see themselves progress as they believe that the nation should provide them the opportunity to do so,” she said.
Her words come as Namibia limps with 32% unemployment rate that has been worsened by an economy in tailspin while some young people have taken to the streets protesting unemployment.
She touched on the need to provide sound education that provides relevant skills for young people to participate as well as to get the jobs.
Sirleaf has also pointed out that education has to be one of the underlining factors in creating a human capital that drives Africa’s developmental agenda, especially Vison 2063 that speaks of a prosperous united continent.
“Education is the key that drives all the development and in many of our countries we had to focus this education first and foremost on the education of girls. I believe today, we have been so successful in the promotion of girls’ education and the parity in many of our countriues are equal and in some cases the parity is in favour of girls who in schools have now succeeded the level of boys,” she said to general nods of agreement from parliamentarians.
She added that a healthy people “will be able to do the things needed to be seen for the diversification of the economy especially in agriculture where most of the women can be found in the informal sector.”
“For many of us in west Africa, the most vibrant part of our economy are from the women on a farm, the women in markets, those women who enable us to feed the nation and to ensure that we provide the basis for the value addition that we talk about to move us from the supplier of primary commodities to become a manufacturing country. To promote industry where the jobs are created,” she said.