Active Citizenship Is Important in Producing Well-Rounded, Socially Responsible Work Seekers
Many service programmes in the region have social goals such as contributing to nation-building, building tolerance and cross-cultural understanding, and increasing social integration. These programmes aim to address key development challenges as their primary objective, with improved employability being an additional outcome. By involving youth in working on development challenges through service, they aim to promote active citizenship and a sense of social responsibility. These qualities stand participants in good stead as they become young adults and navigate the working environment.
To achieve this, national youth service programmes typically include training components on citizenship and civic awareness. Some aim to promote these values experientially by intentionally placing young people in situations where they work and socialise with people from different backgrounds and cultures they may not otherwise encounter. In Nigeria, for example, the NYSC was established to address religious and ethnic differences and promote a sense of national unity. Participants are placed in areas away from their place of origin and work in leadership positions with local communities to identify challenges and develop strategies to address them. In Kenya, participants are sent to serve in various national youth service field units across the country after their training. Further research is required to demonstrate the extent to which national youth service programmes in the region do indeed foster active citizenship and other social outcomes.