PNG bringing in new policies to help youth
The plight of youth in Papua New Guinea and the government's plans to tackle the issue.
How to cope with the burgeoning number of youth in Papua New Guinea has long been a burning issue for politicians there.
In the latest development the government is setting up a National Youth Development Authority.
Prime minister Peter O'Neill says the country has undergone dramatic change and youth are caught in the resulting pressures.
The Authority replaces a Youth Commission which for many years was overseen by now retired MP, Dame Carol Kidu, who served as minister of community affairs in two administrations.
Don Wiseman spoke with her about the new legislation but began by asking about the plight of young people in PNG in 2014.
CAROL KIDU: The youth situation in Papua New Guinea has been a long ongoing issue. We have almost half our population under 25 or probably definitely half. When you get to under 18 it is still a very high percentage in that age group so that we have a huge youth bulge. That in itself is a problem in that services are not being budgeted over many many years to cater for this youth bulge and now this present government has, as many former governments did, talked about free education and making a determined effort to do that, but there is a lot of backlog to catchup on. I personally think we should be looking at access to learning for all and looking at informal mechanisms to improve and look at how to improve the formal systems.
DON WISEMAN: When we talk about informal education, what do we mean?
CK: Well, I established an organisation, an NGO mechanism, called Guinea Business Development. It focuses on skills and business training, and literacy etc, for marginalised youth and women who have not been able to be in the formal system for whatever reason - lack of money, lack of space in the system, and so on.
DW: I guess one of the key things for youth is all the various social problems that are visited upon them. We've talked about the lack of education and the lack of opportunity but there are a lot more basic problems - there is a significant drugs problem, there's HIV, but we also have the Prime Minister talking about issues like a lack of patriotism - Is this something that is peculiar to youth in PNG?
CK: I wouldn't want to quantify that. It is certainly an issue, I would agree with him because people are still much more loyal to their tribes than their nation, perhaps, so there is a need to have, I would say, policies on creating unity.
DW: One of the other things the Government is talking about is having students who don't qualify for tertiary education having military training. Is that something you would approve of.
CK: I would say not necessarily military training but a national service type thing which could be done under the mechanism of the Defence because they have personnel there. I wouldn't call it military training per se, because soldiers are trained to kill. I would say a national service could be worked under the Defence Force but it would have a very different agenda, and it could tie in with national service and things, national volunteer service.
DW: As far as a Youth Development Authority goes, you would like to see it focus on what?
CK: Well firstly it has to look at the implementation of policy. The greatest weakness in Papua New Guinea has always been implementation of policy. We don't lack good policy, we lack the effective implementation mechanisms and effective budgeting and funding for them.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: