Government has taken a decision to introduce a new Scheme targeting Graduate Youth who are unemployed but are also not in the Internship programme. The Graduate Volunteer Scheme (GVS) is being introduced to attach young graduates in organisations that have opportunities for volunteer work. It is intended to among others facilitate skills development and transfer to young graduates, contribute to community development, promote the spirit of volunteerism, improve resilience of the graduate youth, and reduce idle time. Each participant will receive a meal allowance of P600.00, and will be given priority for placement in the National Internship Programme.
Government claims that the participants will not only contribute to community development initiatives but they will also improve their employment readiness through on the job training and experience but saying nothing about supervision and monitoring. Already we are aware of stories where interns are turned into cleaners and tea ladies. Are these skills we want our graduates to acquire?
From the onset we would like to disagree that GVS is the best solution to unemployment problems that the youth are facing. There are more creative ways to invest in youth and in turn reduce idle time could be amongst them, not only graduate youth, but all young people who are roaming the streets unemployed. Billions collected in the unpopular alcohol levy in the last four years is one such opportunity. With our small population, spread out in different districts, how many youth centres with recreational facilities can we build with the P1.6bn collected since 2010? Hundreds! These youth centres could have had IT centres, Performing Arts, Sporting Facilities, Libraries and Theatres and other ammenities. But the cxurrent administration would rather sponsor alcoholism and uncoordinated pet projects like the constituency tournaments, which disrupt development of sport/ football in the country. What happened to the idea of identifying opportunities abroad for graduates? Government is either very confused or deliberately want the youth to cling to these slavery handouts for other sinister motives.
If this is part of the grand plan by Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) to create 50 000 jobs, then the whole thing is laughable, to say the least. We shudder to imagine that government may not be listening to the plight of the youth and suggestions on how best to resolve their problems. Or alternatively government chooses to pay lip service to promises she keeps making. Just recently at the BDP youth wing congress in Masunga the president encouraged the youth to come up with solutions and advise the party leadership on policies and programmes that suits them.
While some blame public servants for such mickey mouse schemes, that will clearly expose young graduates to exploitation of the highest order-which is akin to modern day slavery, we mainatin that the buck stops with the political leadership who grant approval. We shudder to imagine that these sloppy policies could be a direct result of the recent fallout between the ruling party and the civil service. We hope not!
According to Botswana National Human Development draft Report 2014 by United Nations Deevelopment Programme (UNDP) there is a general relationship indicating high poverty rates where unemployment is also high. This clearly indicates that a key means to fighting poverty is in terms of employment creation. Employment creation also has a key advantage of fighting poverty in a sustainable way especially if the jobs are decent and provide a wage that is adequate to avoid having a class of workers classified as the working poor. There is therefore need to focus Botswana towards creation of sustainable employment. As indicated earlier this is a key area that requires assistance from development partners and may if not tacked expeditiously undermine all efforts made in terms of human development and even undermine the middle income status of the country. Need we say more? We can only hope those at government enclave are listening.