Winner of the Africa Scout Day Essay Challenge on "How Scouting Contributes to the Development of Africa"
Scouting is a global youth movement whose purpose is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials, as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities. The development of young people occupies a central position in scouting. Hirtheto, the success or failure of any nation lies in the quality of young people in a nation because young people are the future. This class of energetic citizens possess enormous and multi dimensional talents, powers and creative abilities which if molded and harnessed in a fit and proper atmosphere, can translate to generational wellbeing in the social, political and economic life of the society. In the words of Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, he said “the international scout movement is a world leader in youth education, and has particular relevance to the needs of youths in Africa and the emerging democracies around the globe”.
Scouting as a value based educational system, takes pride in forming the character of these young people as the future of the continent. This is a role that scouting remains committed to playing in order to ensure that young people are provided with the widest range possible of opportunities to learn and develop. This is the most significant contribution of scouting in Africa.
Scouting in Africa is contributing immensely to the development of Africa through the development of the young people. Scouting helps young people to become the principal agents of their development as committed, responsible, self-reliant and supportive persons. The following are the summary of how scouting contributes to the development of Africa.
Peace and Unity
According to Mr. Hassane Graffada, “Scouting is a melting pot of all ethnic groups for strengthening a nation”. This quote invariably vindicates the position of scouting as a non-barrier movement. Scouting provides a platform for young people and adults to come together irrespective of their various religions, ethnicity, race or nationality. It promotes a culture of equality and tolerance. Through intra-NSO to Inter-NSO activities/partnerships, scouting has been able to bridge all barriers in the African society thereby promoting peace and unity in Africa which is key to the development of Africa. From national jamborees to international ones, scouts have made a resolve to live together in peace and unity irrespective of their differences. A common avenue for the entrenchment of this is in the inter-NSO projects, All African Jamboree, Africa Scout Day e.t.c where young people of different backgrounds converge as one and relate as one. This has consciously and unconsciously developed in the young people the spirit of unity, love, tolerance and team spirit.
Scouting in Africa has occupied the front row in advocating for peace in Africa. Peace education which is one of the fundamental parts of the scout programme world wide has enjoyed a significant quota of the attention of scouts in the region. Scouting in Africa through the NSOs has continually trained young people as community mediators, peace advocates, and organize peace and reconciliation workshop amongst others. An typical example is the coming together of scouts of 3 neighboring countries (Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda) to contribute to the return of peace in the great lakes region. They engaged in extensive peace education which was able to fight ethnic prejudices and instability in the region.
Scouting inculcates in young people the spirit of good turns which has metamorphosed into major community development projects. All over the continent, young people are carrying out community oriented projects from simple ones to major ones. All these are targeted at contributing positively to the community thereby creating a better Africa and world at large. These projects have had and are having great impacts in the communities of the young people. Scouts on a daily basis continue to successfully undertake community projects in peace education, literacy programmes, enlightenment campaigns, food production, hygiene, environment e.t.c that directly contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the communities. One of such applaudable project was carried out by a 17-year old Troop Leader, Emma King, who led her troop to renovate a charity home in South Africa. Also, the role played by scouts in Liberia in ending Ebola and scouts in Kenya’s role in conserving the environment is still very fresh in our minds. These and so are so many more examples that vindicates the point that scouting in Africa is in the front row of contributing to the development of Africa. The reason for such involvement is not a profit one but to provide opportunity to bring about change by practical action. It is through involvement and first hand experience that young people grow in awareness of the needs of their communities.
Leadership Training for Young People
According to the Secretary General of WOSM in one of his interviews, he said “Scouting provides the best leadership training programme available anywhere in the world. One cannot but subscribe to this fact which has pragmatically brought several accolades to the movement. Scouting in Africa, through the NSOs provides a well balanced leadership training programme for young people. Young people occupy a relatively large percentage of population in Africa. Therefore, harnessing their potentials and abilities into a constructive venture stands out scouting in Africa today. Young people exposed to the value based education system have shown a higher degree of leadership skills than the non-scouts. Through the scouting programmes, young people learn team spirit, perseverance, tenacity and other qualities that helps in moulding their character. The resulting effects of these are young people who can motivate others, think constructively to identify the needs of their communities and find solutions to them locally. They think globally but act locally.
As future leaders, young people will at certain times occupy various positions of responsibilities in their countries. Through the leadership skills they have acquired in scouting, it puts them on a higher pedestal as positive change drivers in their communities.
As stated earlier, young people forms an active chunk of the population of countries and the continent at large. One of the greatest problems of Africa today is youth unemployment. Scouting in Africa has provided a medium for young people to acquire skills that are key for sustainability and self-reliance. The concept of providing youth empowerment is an integral part of scouting right from the onset. Proficiency badges scheme provides a good start to orient young people towards self-reliance. They provide vocational skills, life skills, technical skills e.t.c that contributes to making young people self reliant. No doubt the theme of the 2016 African scout day is SCOUTING: Africa’s leading social force for youth empowerment. Scouting in Africa is excelling both in providing the right attitude to work and also creating opportunities for young people. Different youth empowerment projects for young people and even adults have been executed. Entrepreneurship skill acquisition programmes and projects are organized periodically by different NSO in Africa. An example is the acquisition of agricultural skills by young people through a programme “Food for Life” in South Africa since 2005. Also is agricultural food production in Igbo-ora, Ogun State in Nigeria.
21st Century Skills
The acquisition of 21st Century skills is a priority in Africa for technological advancement. Scouting in the region has provided an avenue for young people to be abreast of technological advancements of the world through participation in JOTA-JOTI, scout.org and other resources. This has bridged the inequality gap of the region to other region in areas of ICT. Young people in the region are more informed of the world around them and are able to pilot campaigns on world issues like health, security, climate e.t.c
Education for Life
From young age to adulthood, scouting in Africa has been providing its members with the necessary skills and values to participate productively in the development of their communities. Scouting through the educational methods, enables young people to gradually understand scouting values, adhere to them and make them their own so that they can permeate their behaviour throughout their lives. The skills acquired as a scout accompanies the individual throughout his or her family, personal and work life. By bringing up empowered and socially aware individuals, the movement helps to prepare the young people for a life of service as responsible adults and leaders in the society. Over the years, the movement has continued to produce men and women of good character who go to serve their countries and societies in various capacities and thereby contributing to the creation of a better world through the knowledge that they acquire through scouting experiences. As lifelong active citizens, young people contribute immensely, transforming homes, streets, cities and eventually their countries and Africa at large.
Partnership in Progress
Scouting in Africa has continued to partner with other organizations that are in alignment with the mission of creating a better world. From national to the regional level, scouts have partnered with organizations that share the philosophy of scouting in the development of Africa. Examples include the partnership with UN, UNESCO, WHO e.t.c. For instance, scouts partnered with UNICEF in Child Immunization Campaign in Africa and the clean water and sanitation projects in Sudan and Africa from 1990-2002. Also, scouts in Benin engaged in Mobilization for the UN Millenium Development Goals before its expiration. Most times, scouts serve as the volunteer point of contact between such organization and the people of the community. There are other several examples which shows scouting in Africa in partnership remains resolute in contributing to the development of Africa.
In conclusion, although Africa is characterized by great needs and scarce resources, scouting in Africa is contributing significantly to the development of Africa. Scouting in Africa has provided original approaches to several of the problems affecting young people in the region like employment, gender equality, education e.t.c. Wishing the scouts around Africa a Happy Africa Scout Day 2016.