Nat’l Fight, Not To Politicize -As “Gov’t Is On The Right Track Now” ; Youth & Sports Min. Speaks On The Issue Of At-Risk Youths
The Minister of Youth and Sports, D. Zoegar Wilson, has said that the Weah led- government is keen in addressing the issue of at risk-youths in the country and President George Weah has given the Ministry the mandate to work with development partners, organizations and individuals in tackling the issue of at risk youths.
Speaking from the United States of America on a local radio talk show, Minister Wilson called on Liberians to see this as a National fight and not to politicize it.
He stated that besides the fundraiser launched by President Weah on June 30, 2022 at the Ministerial Complex this year, 1 million United States dollars was also allocated in the supplementary budget, specifically for the rehabilitation of these youth and added that the United Nations committed US$1.5million to this fight.
He announced that the Government of Liberia has a 10-year plan which starts with Montserrado, but will extend to other counties in phases.
He also mentioned that they are going to transform the Youth Agricultural Training Center in Bensonville into a rehab to be used for rehabilitation project.
While there, Minister Wilson said these youths will not only be rehabilitated, but will also be given vocational education from 14 different trades.
According to the Minister, in 2020, the UNFPA hired a consultant named Dr. Teakon Williams to do a mapping of at- risk youths all over Liberia and they were told that there are over 90,000 of these youths residing within every part of Liberia.
“In two months’ time another statistic and fresh data will be out, UNICEF and UNFPA have hired two consultants both international and local to do another mapping by the 15th of this month”, Min. Wilson said.
Though some argue that this is late and should have been done in the first year as the government promised, the Minister blamed the delay on COVID-19 that affected the whole world at the time, and also stated that they started engaging some partners since December 2018.
He also added that it takes proper planning, time and they had to make sure that people who are knowledgeable about this project were brought on board to help government.
Besides the incoming rehabilitation project, the Minister said between 2019 to 2021, the government and the United Nations ran a pilot project called Social Economic Empowerment of Disadvantaged youths (SEED) that affected and transformed over 500 at-risk youths who were rehabilitated and provided useful skills.
According to him, the government is using SEED as one of their success stories for the future project and promised that before the end of this year, there will be major intervention and concrete steps taken to address the issue of at-risk youths. He also stated that they have visited some ghettos to educate and inform them about the project the government is planning to undertake.