First a disclaimer. The moral situation is not wholesale grim for unemployed graduate youths that get entrusted with youth development interventions in their communities, but the general attitude amongst policy makers seems to be that graduate youths without clearly visible or defined sources of income are generally unemployed, vulnerable, in need of support, are a burden on their frequently peasant families and by extension their communities.

This perhaps explains the stigma that follows youths in communities, when they find themselves in circumstance as above implied.

  • But the question arises, are these youths not really gainfully occupied in one way or the another?
  • Are they not really contributing to activities that may seem obvious and mundane in the community, but that can really count as gainful employment?
  • What are these activities even?
  • Is it possible that interveners for youths’ development may be working with the wrong definition of unemployment when it comes to graduate youths?
  • What are the opportunities for changing development and policy planning to take into consideration and to build on the realities of the already existent beneficial exploitation of ‘unemployed’ graduate youths in communities? 
  • And, is youth simply an age group or does it refer to an experience in the process of living?
  • Who is a youth?
  • What are the struggles of a youth? What motivates youth and what occupies youth that makes youths a demographic of fascination for community and national development planners?

So much has been and continues to be invested by government and development organizations in the livelihood development of youths. Many of these initiatives have collapsed without much benefit for the target populations – thanks allegedly to corruption and theft, frequently by or in partnership with the beneficiaries themselves.

Most interesting is that, in the failure of such interventions, you find the concerted input of unemployed graduate youths from the ‘benefiting’ communities who are usually picked to headline these opportunities – yet one would expect they would be best placed to articulate the necessity for such initiatives to survive.

  • One then wonders, do such youths see something planners for youths may be missing?
  • What do they fallback to once they, these unemployed graduate youths, have participated in the collapse of opportunities designed to lift them out of ‘unemployment and poverty’?
  • Might they have more confidence in the realities of what they were occupied with in their communities before these presented opportunities?
  • Were they really poor, un-occupied, needy and disadvantaged before these ‘uplifting’ interventions? 

This brief video dialogue with Dr. Ben Jones, the Principal Investigator on the Challenging Categories Project, dissects these thoughts deeper. Here is the link to the video.

This video introduction is authored by Mr. Philip Luswata.

Mr. Philip Luswata during a field visit to young adults benefiting from our project: “Mentoring young adults into innovators against poverty.” Mr. Luswata is the Media Consultant for our research and advocacy project: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda,” which CPAR Uganda is implementing in partnership with Lira University and the University of East Anglia; with funding from the British Academy under the British Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund

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