What can be done to help youth become more active in civic leadership?

In countries like Rwanda, which achieve peace and economic growth in the aftermath of conflict, it is commonplace for youth to take a backseat, content with the leadership and direction of the older generation. However, sustainable peace and development require the active participation of the youth. Elizabeth Buhungiro asks how Rwandan youth can be helped to become active in civic leadership.

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There should be more opportunities for youth to spend a substantial amount of time participating in activities outside of school, including voluntary work in community-based organizations, being part of local sports teams, and school-based clubs. All of these influence their need for and willingness to be a part of the greater good through involvement. Their interaction with other Rwandans directly influences youth involvement in their communities.
Rogers Kabera, Social Worker
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The youth need to take stage on their own. That’s why I think that the idea that someone should do it for them is wrong. Being a good citizen is about personal values and patriotism. A re-emphasis of these values by youth who already have them can be a good way to do it. But also it is good to see that no barriers are imposed for youth to enter and participate in the system.
Christelle Kwizera, Managing Director, Water Access Rwanda.
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First of all, it’s important to understand that everything we do when we are young starts with the values that are instilled in us in our own families. As we grow up we start to interact with different members of society and we see things differently.
We have to examine what we hear from outside mostly when it comes to political issues as this informs our decisions. So in order to help young people become more active in civic leadership, the older generation of politicians, businessmen, and parents need to make sure that they are giving them what they really need, especially to tell them the truth and show them the reality of everything that is going on.
Christian Tyler Intwari, Events Organiser
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I think that youth must be given ample opportunity to discuss controversial issues in possible places like schools, camps, or libraries, so that they have the freedom to consider multiple positions and viewpoints on these issues. This should be within an “open” climate to enable the youth feel comfortable while expressing themselves. The youth should also be assisted in identifying issues within their respective communities and coming up with strategies to create change.
Ange Theonastine Ashimwe, Poet.

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