Enhancing Representation and Policy Support for Scouting through Parliamentary Unions
A delegation of 11 members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) of Thailand who are also members of the World Scout Parliamentary Union (WSPU), together with their Kenyan counterparts were recently in Nairobi on four-day visit. Led by the Speaker and President of the Thai NLA, the President of the WSPU, the Ambassador of Thailand to Kenya and hosted by the 3rd Vice President of WSPU and Chairman of WSPU Kenya Chapter, the legislators were in the country to strengthen the Scout Parliamentary Union in Kenya as well as discuss ways to establish similar unions across African countries.
Starting off with a Scout Rally in Dagoretti South Constituency, the legislators were treated to a warm reception by the Kenyan people. Among the many highlights of their visit were meetings with the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E William Ruto, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Moses Cheboi, the staff of the World Scout Bureau Africa Support Centre (WSB Africa) and Kenya Scouts Association (KSA). They also had an opportunity to enjoy a game drive and to visit Lord Baden Powell’s final resting place in Nyeri.
At the meeting with the Deputy President, the Scout movement and its Parliamentary Union were hailed as important stakeholders with a role to play in the deepening of people-to-people relationships between countries. “We value, as government, what Scouts are doing in Kenya by inculcating morals into young people through value education and mentorship. We are open for discussions into how we can work with non-state actors to drive the country’s big four development agenda and facilitate people-to-people connections between Kenya and its friends,” said the Deputy President.
Hon. Kiarie, the 3rd Vice President of WSPU and Chairman of WSPU Kenya Chapter, reckoned that the Scout movement inculcates the right software needed to build the next generation of patriotic Kenyans. “The WSPU was formed to help create a conducive legislative environment for the movement to thrive,” he added.
While meeting the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly it was reiterated that the establishment of the Kenya Scouts Association was through an act of parliament, hence the Assembly has role to play in its development. “We as the National Assembly need to formalize the support given to Scouting in Kenya. Scouting inculcates more discipline that the National Youth Service. It is voluntary and useful in the development of our country,” said the Deputy Speaker as he recalled his earlier days as a Scout.
Regarding working with WSPU, the President of WSPU, Hon. Thamrong Dasananjali echoed that Scouting is a worldwide brotherhood and that the aim of their visit was strengthen the friendship between Scouts and Scout Parliamentarians in Kenya and Thailand. “WSPU currently has membership of over 100 countries worldwide. We encourage the formation of National Scout Parliamentary Associations (NSPAs) to work to support Scouting initiatives and national legislation to help youth and open doors to give the Scout Movement access to decision-makers involved in problems directly concerning young people and the communities in which they live,” said the Hon. Thamrong.
When they visited WSB Africa, the Regional Director Frederic Tutu Kama-Kama welcomed the interest by WSPU to support establishment and strengthening of NSPAs in Africa saying, “We can build Africa from within with the right laws, with Scout parliamentarians leading from the front.” He also highlighted the significance of Africa to Scouting globally and the need to invest resources in supporting growth and development of the movement in the region. "We would like to trace the foot-trails of Baden Powell from Mafeking to Nyeri as a way of communicating the magical friendship and brotherhood of Scouting through the Nyeri International Scout Centre project. We also have a plan to build an office to better serve our National Scout Organizations. Developing a cooperation between Scouting and parliaments can help us achieve these and so much more,” he added.
The WSPU delegation invited the leadership of Scouting in Africa to its activities and sought support for the WSPU-Kenya Chapter in hosting the 1st Africa Regional WSPU General Assembly in Nairobi in next year. They also noted the interest from the East African Legislative Assembly to formalize the caucus within the East African Community.
At Kenya Scouts Association the legislators asserted that Scouting should form an integral part of national youth empowerment programmes. “Scouting is an important movement in the upbringing of our children and we need to push it to become part and parcel of our education system. We will ensure that all that needs to be anchored in law is done to avoid any gaps,” said Hon. Florence Mutua, MP for Busia Constituency.
The role of parliament is supporting Scouting was viewed as one that provides political goodwill, supports youth friendly legislation and policies and to bring the movement closer to decision makers so that it can effectively influence national and international conversations on youth. In a country with devolved governance system, it was observed that Scouting in Kenya can only grow rapidly with the support of the County Governments; many of whom have committed through their Governors to support the movement.
Among the many outcomes of this visit, is that there will be greater connection between Scouting in Thailand and Kenya through exchange programmes, inter-parliamentary cooperation and growth in trade and investments between the two countries.
Photos courtesy of: Deputy President Press Service, National Assembly of Kenya and World Scout Bureau Inc.