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Youth4Policy Public Dialogue and Launch of the second cohort

On the 21 of March, we held the Youth4Policy public dialogue in Kampala. Together with our partners Centre for Development Alternatives (CDA) and the Public Policy Institute (PPI), we organized the Youth4Policy Programme, a policy capacity training for young professionals. The public dialogue offered a stage for the 8 fellows to present and discuss their policy alternatives and ended with the official launch of the second cohort of Youth4Policy.

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Over 100 participants from youth leaders to officials from the Cabinet Secretariat, academia and civil society attended the dialogue. With warm welcoming remarks Emmanuel Kitamirike, the Executive Director of PPI, introduced the guests to the objectives of Youth4Policy. During the programme the fellows are empowered and trained to meaningfully contribute to public policy research, analysis and contemporary public debates. The public dialogue provided a stage for the fellows to present their evidence based policy alternatives and to exchange their ideas with the audience. Mr. Kitamirike stressed that this dialogue helps to overcome the challenges in public policy by creating “a platform for the young people to be able to influence the ones making decisions”.

“There are young people outside that have something to offer”, Mathias Kamp, Country Representative of the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), reminded the audience. Mr. Kamp deeply appreciated that these 8 fellows of the first cohort prove that the assumption that young people have something to offer is right. He emphasized that the programme is a joint-learning experience to meaningfully contribute to the empowerment of young people in Uganda.

To further dive into the topic of youth in public policy in Uganda, Mr. Henry Mbaguta from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development gave his insights into the opportunities and constraints for youth in public policy debates. As Uganda has the youngest population in the world and faces challenges of youth unemployment, the inclusion of the young voices is necessary. To address nowadays challenges, the young generation needs to engage to design policies for the social and economic transformation of the country. “The youth needs to engage, but with evidence.” the Commissioner of Financial Services expressed his wish for young professionals who are equipped with evidence like the 8 fellows of Youth4Policy.

Subsequently, a heated debate moderated by the director of CDA Yusuf Kiranda followed the remarks of the commissioner. One of the fellows, Malcolm Mpamizo, raised the issue that it is not only about evidence, but also about quality. He further challenged the audience to think about “how to build a critical mass that appreciates the burden to be privileged?” Responding to that, Susan Nandudu demanded to “stop the isolation of young people” and to create more spaces for youth to engage in public policy discourse. Robert Musoko, a Member of Parliament, exemplified how evidence can influence politics, as it contributed to the revised Mobile Money Tax. The actively involved audience also raised crucial points to look at such as the lack of representation of young people with disabilities and the need to start to take action.

Before splitting up into the 8 breakout sessions to present and discuss the public policy alternatives, Bernhard Mukhone, Programme Manager of KAS, introduced the fellows. They gave brief overviews of their research and concluded with the official graduation of the young experts.

The key part of the dialogue was the presentation of the 8 policy papers. All the fellows had the opportunity to share insights into their research and to discuss it with the interested audience. Business-related human rights violations, labour migration and anti-corruption recommendations are only a few of the issues the participants and fellows dealt with.

The fellows presented their evidence based findings like Winnie Watera who focused on women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. She found out that because women “are socialized away from STEM disciplines” there are only a few in affiliated jobs and academic programs. The Makerere University for example reported in 2017 a “9.2% enrolment rate of female students in STEM”. All fellows came up with policy recommendations. Benjamin Rukwengye for example found out that soft skills in Uganda’s Education System can help to address the unemployment challenge. Therefore, he recommended the review of the national curriculum and a shift from a teacher-training model to a learner-centered approach. The extent to which the audience served as a platform to influence public policy and to take action was evident in the discussion about unsafe labour migrations. Mr. Mwanje representing the Uganda Parliamentary Affairs invited the people to “network together to make a good bill” for external migration. He deeply appreciated the research of Hilda Namakula who researched about migrations to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

At the end of the presentations, the second cohort of Youth4Policy was officially launched and Mr. Kitamirike called out for applications. The dialogue provided a great stage for the fellows to present and discuss their findings and to connect as well as influence the public policy discourse. Afterwards, the participants and fellows used the chance to continue networking, so that “at the end of the day the public policy research has a user”, as Mr. Kitamirike stated.

written by Madita Schulte

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