Responsibility starts from a young age

The mandatory National Service programme aims to prepare young citizens to take on more responsibility in society. WAM
The mandatory National Service programme aims to prepare young citizens to take on more responsibility in society. WAM

The Government’s strategy is clear when it comes to youth empowerment: we are a country that places a major share of responsibility on young people to contribute to our social, political and economic development. As Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, said on Thursday during a panel about the challenge of the region’s growing youth population at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, her role as a youth minister is a demonstration of the “country’s commitment and courage to go beyond rhetoric and thoroughly integrate youth into the process of building our future”.

Youth engagement is an issue facing every country in the Arab world. Unlike some other countries in the region, however, the UAE has been strategic in taking concrete steps to invest in our younger generations. According to the 22-year-old Shamma Al Mazrui, young people make up more than half of all Emiratis. This places even a greater responsibility on young people to take the country forward while respecting and holding onto the cultural values and traditions that unite us.

This duty and responsibility is evident across society. It is manifested in our mandatory National Service programme, which aims to prepare young citizens to take on more responsibility in society. More than two years on since the law was passed, six batches of National Service recruits have either started or graduated from the programme with a new outlook, new skills and, perhaps, a bigger sense of responsibility and discipline than before. Educational reforms are also providing future generations they need with the skills and tool they require to build a knowledge-based economy and continue the country’s global competitiveness.

Young Emiratis now have more opportunities than ever to voice their ideas and express their concerns. The creation of youth circles that connect them directly to senior government officials and, therefore, to the policymaking process have facilitated critical debate. There are also emirate-level initiatives, such as the Sharjah Children Council, which plays an important role in preparing Emiratis to develop their voice on issues that will define society for decades to come. Youth empowerment is about teaching the next generation about the responsibility they have towards the country.

Published: September 3, 2016 04:00 AM

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