STATEMENT BY H.E. DR ERNEST BAI KOROMA AT THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE OF SIERRA LEONE BANK COMPLEX, KINGTOM 14 DECEMBER 2016

MR CHAIRMAN

HON VICE PRESIDENT

MINISTERS OF GOVERNMENT

DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS

THE SPEAKER AND HON MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT

THE HON CHIEF JUSTICE

THE MAYOR OF FREETOWN

HEADS OF MINISTRIES, DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

MY DISTINGUISHED YOUTHS OF SIERRA LEONE

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

During the State Opening of Parliament in 2013, I made commitment to establish a National Youth Service as part of my Government’s several initiatives to address the challenges of youth employability and empowerment in Sierra Leone. Today, in marking this year’s commemoration of International Volunteers Day, I am delighted to be here to fulfill that commitment, by launching the National Youth Service of Sierra Leone. This Service will be a catalyst for youth development; it will provide our youths with opportunities to gain valuable work experience, promote self-discipline, expand their knowledge of Sierra Leone’s social and cultural diversities and help to bridge ethnic divide. All of these will no doubt enhance their sense of patriotism and promote national cohesion. The National Youth Service will also help our youths to nurture and cultivate positive work ethos which is a major challenge affecting their career development and the attainment of their professional goals.

Mr. Chairman, our country is a nation of young people and its development largely depends on how ready our youths are in terms of relevant skills, experience and positive work ethic. I absolutely believe in their potential and power to move this country forward but to do so; to achieve sustainable development, we need to provide the youths with the opportunities to fit in as we have been doing for over eight years now. They too have to be ready to seize on these opportunities to improve on their capabilities, and to make themselves suitable for the tasks that we must confront together. This is why I have always maintained and ensured that they do not only fully participate, but are also at the centre of our national development efforts. I am aware that the youths can do a lot by themselves, but their efforts at constructing lives would be better served by the scaffolds and safety nets of a national development vision, program of action and relevant institutions.

My government’s Agenda for Prosperity, the National Youth Programme 2014-2018 (A Blue Print for Youth Development) and the revised National Youth Policy of 2014 constitute our development vision and programme of action for youth development. The creation of a separate Ministry of Youth Affairs, establishment of a National Youth Commission, the appointment of a Presidential Youth Aide, the formation of a National Youth Council with its affiliate youth structures at district and chiefdom levels, and today, the establishment of a National Youth Service explain my government response in providing the institutional framework to actualize my commitment to the youth of Sierra Leone.

I have dedicated my administration to the service of the youth of this country. This is why in line with the slogan of the service “Our Service Our Future”, I urge you to dedicate your service as young people to the service of your future and to the future of our country. You must continue to be hard working and disciplined; you must continue to be committed to the development of our country, and you must continue to make a difference to your lives and the communities you live and serve.

I am encouraged that with the dedication and support of our youth, we are on the path of recovery from the challenges thrust upon us by the twin shocks of Ebola and the fall in the price of iron ore. I am encouraged by the role young people played in overcoming the national challenges of civil conflict and the Ebola epidemic; I am encouraged by the role of our youths as leading agents in upholding democracy, good governance and the rule of law. I am encouraged that our youths can and will roll the wheels of industry and productivity to move our beloved Sierra Leone to development and prosperity.

Mr Chairman and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, with this launch of the National Youth Service, the logical next step will be the mobilisation of resources to ensure that it becomes fully functional and live up to its objectives. The success of this initiative is our collective challenge; all Ministries Departments and Agencies, the development community and the private sector must rise up to the occasion and embrace this unique opportunity to promote the productivity of our young graduates. I therefore implore you to create the space to accommodate our young graduates under this National Youth Service scheme, to give them the requisite experience, to help them learn the appropriate work ethics and to enable them to contribute to the change and transformation we desire in our communities and institutions and in our country.

While my government remains committed to kick-start the operations of the service, I look forward to the strong support of our development partners and friends in moving this scheme forward.

Let me use this opportunity to thank the Minister of Youth Affairs and staff of his ministry, Board and staff of the National Youth Service, the Board and Management of the National Youth Commission and members of the NYS Steering Committee that included the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. I also applaud the Hon Speaker and Members of Parliament for the speedy enactment of the National Youth Service Act. For supporting this initiative, I wish to particularly commend our development partners including the UNDP, UNFPA, United Nations Volunteers, World Bank, Restless Development, Plan International and sector youth-serving organisations.

Mr Chairman, this is another milestone in my government’s youth development agenda and I am very pleased to launch the National Youth Service of Sierra Leone.

God bless the youths of Sierra Leone, God bless Sierra Leone.

I thank you for your attention.

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