Editorial: Religious leaders can do more to empower the youth

RELIGIOUS leaders have been challenged to inculcate good values among Rwandan youth to ensure they constructively contribute to national development. The call was made by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente during a thanksgiving National Prayer Breakfast at the Kigali Convention Centre, on Sunday.

RELIGIOUS leaders have been challenged to inculcate good values among Rwandan youth to ensure they constructively contribute to national development.

The call was made by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente during a thanksgiving National Prayer Breakfast at the Kigali Convention Centre, on Sunday.

The call comes against the backdrop of increased cases of drug abuse among the youth, which has been cited as a threat to the current pace of national development.

The youth constitute about 70 per cent of the total population and thus achieving national development will largely depend on their productivity. Indeed, if the church plays its rightful role in this effort, the alarming drug abuse statistics from the police could be reversed.

For example, statistics show that over 16,200 people aged between 16 and 35 became drug addicts between 2013 and 2017. In this context, the Premier’s call to the church is timely and should be acted on with the urgency it deserves.

Ideally, religious leaders are supposed to be the bedrock of inculcating values among people from a young age so that they grow into responsible, disciplined and hardworking citizens.

Religions are well placed to effectively empower the youth, both spiritually and in terms of skills development, across the many development initiatives that the church undertakes in health, education and entrepreneurship, among others. In this regard, churches should invest more in youth empowerment to supplement government efforts at the national level.

Although the church has played a pivotal role in national development, it can do a lot more in empowering the youth and families. Youth empowerment is critical if the country is to achieve the national strategy for transformation and the seven-year government programme.

From a young age, children should be trained to uphold values that will help shape their vision. One’s faith is the starting point if this goal is to be achieved.