Adrift On The Waters Of Uncertainty

Like this Indonesian teenager who got lost at sea in late 2018 and spent 49 days adrift out in the vast ocean in a ‘fishing hut’, a lot of our youths are too. But they are ‘lost’ in a slightly different way – adrift on the waters of uncertainty.

In a week’s time thousands of primary and secondary school students across the country go on their muchanticipated first 2 weeks school holidays. Some will be enjoying these series of ‘school holidays’ for a few more years to come, while for others, this may be their final year, then they have to face the music – further studies or the painful experience of unemploymentand an uncertain future that can lead to all sorts of issues

– drugs and crime being the most common and scariest ones.

I had just graduated and returned home from my final undergrad year at uni. The sun was hot so dad and I took shelter under the mango trees next to the ‘Commercial Centre’ at Lolowai. I stood there watching some young people marching to and fro around the area. They know exactly when sunset is around the corner – that’s when they hit the dusty road for the dim lights of the muddy water bars. And that’s daily routine.

For a lot of kids today life lacks focus. There is a sense

of aimless existence. The statistic is growing by the day and school-going students are in danger of joining the ranks.

To aggravate the problem, because the United Nations (UN) has told them through various avenues over the years about their “rights”, now they

don’t really have to listen and obey their teachers and parents anymore as kids during post-independence Vanuatu were obliged to. Under the

so-called ‘Vanuatu National Child Protection Policy 2016- 2026’, kids are protected under wellmeaning social safeguards. But safeguards without proper child discipline and guidance places our young people on the highway of increased youth delinquencies.

This comment might not go down well with educationists, and I admit not being one. But the telltale signs around us are all too obvious and pervasive.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know. So many youths today are adrift on the waters of uncertainty. They probably do not know why they are attending school anyway. They don’t have dreams.

Some of our national leaders and various youth organisations and the latest youth movement driven by the youth are also doing a fantastic job in trying to create an avenue toward a generation of youth that is not soley

concentrated on ‘sports’ but on other economic developmental thinking as well. Our old notion of overly equating youth development with sports

is a flawed idea and must be challenged. It provides temporary pain relief like panadol, but is not the panacea to their lives’ sustenance into the future. They need money, roof over their heads, and eventually need to send their own kids to school too.

That recent realisation by the youths themselves as aired on a recent televised panel discussion on TBV is perfectly timely and spot on. Hopefully

these great panel discussions on TBV spur policy changes in relevant organisations within the Government, NGOs and private sector.

The bulk of the work though has to come from the individual youths themselves and from parents who have an important role in distilling

those values and ideals on their children.

The 33rd US President Harry S. Truman is accredited with having popularized the phrase ‘the buck stops here’, which simply means that

the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions. For youths, the buck stops on the parents’ table and on the youths themselves.

In every child there is a gift, endowed at birth by God. There is also a talent that can be recognised and harnessed. Parents, teachers and employers need to believe in the abilities of the younger generation. I started out my career path doing small holiday jobs, first at Burns Philp (which later became Better Price and now the ‘General Store’), then at what was known as the National Planning Office (NPO), now called the Department of Strategic Policy Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC).

My roles at both workplaces were very basic and humble: delivering mail, photocopying, filing, making tea for the boss, etc. At the NPO I did my

holiday job there when the current Minister of Education Hon. Jean Pierre Nirua was Director. He remains a role model to me to this very day.

He was a down-to-earth man (and he still is today!). I did my best to serve well during my two weeks holiday jobs at his office.

Fast forward some years later I joined the Department of Trade and Industry. There again I met two other mentors – the former Director Mr

Japin Tari, and current DG of Trade Ambassador Roy M Joy. Again, they believed in me, saw potential in me, and so guided me in my career. They

promoted me to the position of a Government agency Director barely within 3 years of university graduation. I owe much credit to them. Amid our faster-paced lives, it is not that easy grooming young people these days, it seems. Could this be one of the key reasons why so many of our youths are adrift on the waters of uncertainty today?

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