The Gambian first lady, Madam Zeinab Yahya Jammeh has called on governments to increase investment in young people, saying that a nation’s future rests on the quality its human capital.
Madam Jammeh made this remark Thursday at the launch of the State of the World’s Children report 2011 held at Kairaba Beach Hotel. The event was held under the theme: Adolescence: an age of opportunity.
“The state of the world’s children report calls on all governments and partners to invest in young people, to give them Knowledge and skills in order to promote and sustain economic and social progress and eradicate poverty for good,” she said.
Madam Zeinab noted that Gambia government, under the leadership of her husband, Yahya Jammeh has made significant amount of investment in the promotion of health, nutrition, basic education and protection of younger children in recent years.
“The Government of The Gambia continues to be committed to the right and welfare of children and young people,” she assured. “This commitment of the government in promoting and protecting the right of children and young people is well known in the sun-region.”
Also speaking at the event, Ms Fatou Lamin Faye, minister for Basic and Secondary Education buttressed that denying the younger age the rights heightens their risk of exploitation, social isolation associated with early marriage and mortality complications.
She said, children should be allowed to express their ideas and opinions freely inorder to help them play important roles as citizens.
“We must continue to remember that young people are crucial to development,” Minister Faye said.
For Mr Sheriff Gomez, minister for Youth and Sports, providing access to education, opportunities for gainful employment, quality health care service delivery, protection against crime, abuse and exploitation, require concerted efforts.
“To implore on young people to go to school, stay out of crime, participate more in the public discourse, get legally employed and self-employed and more importantly, we believe all socio-cultural impediments in advancing the wellbeing of the young are removed,” he said.
UNICEF representative to The Gambia, Dr Meritxell Relano guaranteed UNICEF’s continued support to Gambia government.
“We need to refocus our efforts on establishing supportive environments for adolescent rights, fostering forums and spaces for youth participation, investing in education and training and addressing the issues of inequality,” she said.According to her, the sub-Saharan Africa is expected to hold more adolescents than any other region in the world, surpassing Asia.