Some see 2016 as a year full of bad memories such as killings, accidents and corruption, yet others see it as one during which they found their voice to fight for their rights.
Namibian youth basically have mixed feelings of how good or bad 2016 has been for them. Dube Ashipala says 2016 was indeed a year of challenges – looking at the water crisis, road accidents, economic crisis, drought, land issues, corruption and a lot more. Although he has worked hard himself, he says 2017 looks very promising. “I know our government is busy strategising on how to overcome everything affecting its citizens this year,” he says.
Johannes Brave Imene believes that the year was great, despite some challenges. He says some youth have missed out on opportunities such as jobs even though the government has tried putting considerate programmes in place to empower them. Although he has not achieved much during the year, he has not lost much either. He sees 2017 as a year of hope and a year of the youth strengthening their relationship with God.
Commenting on increases in fees, which the University of Namibia announced towards the close of the year for next year, Imene says it’s really sad that fees go up each and every year.
“I think it’s about time the government starts considering bigger subsidies for a better quality education in our country. The government must bear the heavier burden of local educational costs to lighten the load for students,” he says.
Loini Nangombe says the only progress this year has been when the first lady Monica Geingos held a conference to create awareness on pregnancies among the youth. But she says 2016 was good in the sense that students have found a voice and fought against all the inequalities they face as students, hence the demonstration against tertiary institutions’ ‘no pay, no exams rule’. Her hopes and expectations for 2017 are for the youth to become more active and vocal about the different issues affecting them, especially on alcohol abuse.
Maria Nambahu says 2016 was one of the most exciting years in her life as a lot of fascinating things happened on the youth side, such as exposition of the world’s fashion industries, modelling academies and also in the political sphere.
“2016 was a very proficient year on my side – I could say I learnt a lot about the ongoing issues in the country, the likes of phosphate mining, water crisis and also the diminution of the country’s economy,” she says.
Her hopes and expectations for 2017 are high regarding avoiding teenage pregnancy as well as dropping out of school, poverty eradication and helping the needy to start small businesses to earn a living and improve their living standards.
Nelly Frans says 2016 has seen a tremendous change, as most youth are no longer dependent on other people but on community projects and businesses. She has finished high school and is “now tackling the world on her own”. She appeals that tertiary education be free, in consideration of those who cannot afford to pay tuition fees.
Hilma Shilumbu says this year saw youths demonstrating for their rights on “tertiary fees must fall” which saw the youth winning the battle. Her fear was when the government considered continuing with the new parliament building project “which was not a good idea for the nation”.
For Loide Katjuskah 2016 has been a great year with lots of love from friends, family and everyone close to her life. She says although the youth experienced lots of challenges here and there, they are still standing strong. She advises fellow youth engaged in crimes to herewith stop it. She adds that 2017 is a year of hope for which she is keeping her fingers crossed.
Sabina Elago spoke to some youths in Windhoek about their involvement in different aspects of life, their newfound energies and the need to question things, as well as their highlights for this year. Norman Ndeuyeeka, Speaker of the Youth Parliament, says Namibian youth are not politically conscious but are moving in a direction where all seem to have a sound interest in politics – “and the ever growing student unity is really an achievement”.
“It’s impressive how students support each other in times of hardship, academic threats and career development and I was really hoping to see the championing of free tertiary education and a great decrease in the unemployment rate, especially among graduates,” he says
Although he thought people living under the poverty line would have been given training and land to start producing their own food instead of receiving food parcels, most young people have been creating their own job opportunities, according to him.
He wishes to see all children attend school under normal circumstances and conditions like any other, and every qualified learner attending university without financial restrictions. All street kids must be placed in foster homes or any other conducive shelter and everyone must have food on their tables every night, he adds.
The Deputy Speaker of the Junior Parliament, Emma Teofilus, says that it has been refreshing to see her fellow youth asking thought-provoking questions and actively wanting to be included in every conversation.
“This I noticed from the large number of youth attending seminars, consciously talking about gender-based violence (GBV) and entrepreneurship. I wish that during the discussions around sexual reproductive health rights of young women in parliament, the women in the chamber could have pushed for a decision to ban all tax on sanitary pads.”
One of Teofilus’ new year resolutions is to work hard to ensure that every Namibian student has access to free tertiary education. “This means that registration fees being the biggest obstacle should either be subsidised or abolished,” she advocates.
Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) chairperson of the Oshikoto Region, Lebbeus Hashikutuva, would have liked to see the implementation of the programme to help Grade 10 and 12 pupils during the block period this year, especially in Tsumeb.
“Another thing that I wished to have been done is the hosting of career fairs and the provision of important information to Grade 12 learners in all fourteen regions, just to give all learners an equal opportunity to assess information such as applying for a bursary on time,” concludes Hashikutuva
The chairperson of the National Youth Development Organisation (NYDO), Kotokeni Shimbindja, says although he sees 2016 as a remarkable year for the youth, sadly most youth are now abusing alcohol and drugs, which was the cause of many accidents and killings.
According to Shimbindja, the year saw the government involving more youths in government projects and implanting new ideas.
“Young people need to work together to uplift the nation’s objectives,” he says, adding that youth must start working together and respect the right of younger children to have a bright future.