Youth Parliament: Plan International Supports Gov’t in Empowering Young MPs on Patriotic, Civic Values & Innovative Projects

An official ceremony to launch the 6th edition of the youth took place on February 7, 2023, in Yaounde, Cameroon as part of weeklong activities marking the Youth Day come February 11.

180 young Members of Parliament, MPs from all ten regions of the country have been convened in Yaounde, to actively take part in a series of activities organized within the framework of the youth parliament and which is in line with the youth day.

The youth parliament launched officially by the Minister of youth affairs and civic education on the 7th of February 2023 was placed under the theme: “Youth, Civic Engagement and promotion of Health.”

As a strategic partner of the government and advocate of children and young people’s rights particularly the girlchild, Plan International through its country office has set up a good number of actions that are aimed at enhancing the well-being and development of youths.

In his address, the Country Director of Plan International in Cameroon, Mr. Johnson Bien-Aimé, first outlined the role the youths play in a nation and later on described them as key players in transformative changes.

Mr. Johnson said in order to amplify the voices of other youths who are back home voiceless, the 180 young MPs should focus on the training they will receive during the ongoing session.

“To impact, youths have to learn, fulfill their potential, decide, and manage. It is our conviction at Plan International and we give our point of honor to accompany all initiatives that aim at putting youths at the center of national priorities.” He said.

 “I’m convinced that the knowledge and empowerment you will receive will go along to improve the lives of children and youths in your communities.”

He went further to commend to all officials, civil society actors and lawmakers represented through the parliamentary Network “Esperance Jeunesse” to equip and grant the necessary tools to youths for active and full participation in the development of their communities and the country at large.

As a father speaking to his children, Mr. Johnson Bien-Aimé challenged the young MPs to be respectful and diligent in the course of their training session; to ask relevant questions to build their knowledge and skills as well as to present innovative projects that could be supported.

Public Health Minister, Dr. Manaouda Malachie who equally took part in this official ceremony, addressed the young MPs. He said this year’s session offers new opportunities to representatives of the youths who need to have insights on health issues.

Minister Manaouda said the youths are at the heart of most of the activities carried out by his ministerial department.

“Nothing can be done without the youths” He added.

The Minister said young people play a crucial role in some community relay activities, in sensitization campaigns notably during vaccinations, social and behavioural changes communication.

On his part, the current chair and coordinator of the parliamentary network for youths known as Esperance Jeunesse, REJE in its French acronym has saluted the engagement and devotion of the young MPs who have been selected at various regional levels to be part of the 6th legislature of the Youth Parliament.

REJE’s Coordinator Honorable Joshua Osih told the young MPs that they are expected to shine and reflect the over 15 million youths they represent nationwide.

Moreover, Honorable Joshua Osih stressed on the fact that the young MPs have a one-year mandate to work hard and show proof of the choice conducted in their constituencies.

While officially chairing the 6th edition of the youth parliament, Minister Mounana Foutsou, as of tradition called on all the young MPs to observe the minute of patriotism. He invited all the youths present to exchange greetings in their mother tongue.

He said languages and cultures are great heritages that should be respected by youths.

The minister of youth affairs and civic education recalled the context within which this year’s youth parliament is taking place. According to the Minister, his ministerial department has set up the National Program for Civic Education through Moral, Civic, and Entrepreneurial Rearmament, known as PRONEC REAMORCE, with a view on concerted and global response as a move to restore the image, moral and civic aptitudes of youths in Cameroon.

Speaking to the young MPs, the Minister reiterated to them the need to adopt civic, patriotic, and moral attitudes wherever they found themselves.

Minister Mounana Foutsou said: “The training session that I have the honor to open this morning, therefore, aims to ensure the Moral, Civic, and Entrepreneurial Rearmament of the young Members of parliament that you are. In this context, it is a question of recalling or insisting on the moral and civic values ​​that you are called upon to cultivate and promote. It is also a question of arousing your commitment to the fight against words that undermine the country at all levels, particularly in terms of health. I will insist here on the consumption of drugs and other psychoactive substances which not only destroys health but supports the deviant behavior observed among young people today. I will also insist on the misuse of social networks, which has a detrimental impact on the quality of information aimed at young people and on the constant need to promote civic values ​​and harmonious living together. These scourges and many others seriously hinder your contribution to the life of the Nation…”

Just after the official opening session marked by the visiting of stands at the youth village fair, young MPs were invited to a two-hour training session.

Thanks to Plan International Cameroon and other partners, the young MPs were schooled on issues surrounding their rights, the health of women, girls, and advocacy to carry on as leaders of their mates, and peers.

24-year-old young MP from the Adamawa region, Saadatou, said thanks to the knowledge acquired, she is more versed on issues related to teenage pregnancies, menstrual hygiene care, HIV transmission, and mother and child care.

Arsene Ndongo, a young MP from the Center region on his part expressed gratitude for being part of this enriching training, yet wishes that development partners grant their support to projects carried out d by youths. Arsene equally advocates for putting in place of law that will reinforce the education and health systems in Cameroon.

The National Youth Day in Cameroon is celebrated every 11 February. The theme that englobes this year’s 57th celebration is: « Youth, moral, civic and entrepreneurial, rearmament, a guarantee for discipline in building a united and prosperous Cameroon ».

Elise Kenimbeni

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