President Lazarus Chakwera says Malawi can benefit from dedicated and patriotic youths committed to work instead of gunning for handouts.
The President said this on Tuesday at Chikonde Primary School in Neno District when he launched the National Youth Service (NYS), a skills development programme aimed at equipping youths with different skills and startup capital to run small-scale businesses.
The service offers a multifaceted approach to vocational training and access to capital with an initial investment of K3.5 billion provided in the 2022-2023 National Budget.
During the launch, Chakwera said the initiative will further foster social inclusion for the youth to engage and transform them to have integrity and to be patriotic.
He said: “This programme is not for the lazy, who only want to receive without working, but this is for those who dedicate themselves to work to earn a living and help develop their country.
“We want youths of the country to have integrity and be patriotic. We do not want youths to be used only for political campaigns, we want them to be utilised positively in developing the nation.”
The programme is expected to be implemented in the country’s 193 parliamentary constituencies where youths will be trained in various trades and thereafter be given a startup capital.
The initiative, to be implemented by the National Economic Empowerment Fund (Neef), is one of the priority areas of the National Youth Policy which was revised in 2013 and is designed to have four regional hubs.
Before the launch, the President toured one of the hubs, Neno Integrated Youth Development Centre, where youths are learning crop production, fish farming and livestock production.
Minister of Youth and Sports Richard Chimwendo said the initiative targets about 20 000 youths aged between 10 and 35.
He said: “This year, we have K3.5 billion to help our young people and next year the President has promised us K20 billion. It is possible for the country to have such foodstuffs like milk, eggs and vegetables produced within the country”
In his remarks, Minister of Youth and Sports director of youth Judith Msusa said hubs such as Neno Integrated Youth Development Centre will be a breeding ground for the skills.
“In the hubs, youths will share knowledge with fellow youths in their communities, apart from utilising the skills to uplift their own lives,” she said.
Neno North legislator Thoko Tembo (Democratic Progressive Party) said small-scale businesses in the area are being affected by lack of an electricity transmitter meant for some parts of the area and the poor road which pose a threat to the initiative.
He said: “The initiative will benefit from a better road network as it will attract people to come and work at the centre to provide the training to the youth. It will also unlock markets as it will make it easier for transportation of produce from the district.”
Neno youth representative Bright Khungwa asked for an adjustment to the funds allocated to Neef to enable more young people to have access which will in turn help them establish better businesses.
According to Chakwera, the programme will also expand access to relevant and quality technical, entrepreneurial and vocational training opportunities for the youth;
- To enhance opportunities for work experience and orientation for entrance in the labour market,
- To provide a reservoir/database for recruitment and deployment both in the public and private sector, including during emergencies and in the restoration of the environment and natural resources, and
- To inculcate in our youths a sense of discipline, patriotism, and integrity in their commitment to develop Malawi by working for a living.
The President conceded that the National Youth Service initiative was not a new concept as it was first initiated by former president Joyce Banda in 2012, but was abandoned by his predecessor Peter Mutharika’s administration. He said it was part of his campaign promise to revive it once in power and that is why it was re-launched on Tuesday.