By Ireneaus Chongwain Chia
Due to the scathing youth unemployment dilemma Cameroon is facing today, many young people are solving the problem the quickest way they know how- “bending” their backs on commercial motorcycles and also “bending” their talents in the process. In a country that plans to become emergent by 2035, a youth-based initiative, that is, how on earth will this goal ever be achieved when a majority of those to make it happen have resolutely opted out by embarking in an activity that largely and mostly seeks to meet only present their physiological and pecuniary needs.
A goal-oriented educational system is the key to any ambitious country’s political and socio-economic take-off. From empirical evidence, once you find your son, who is attending school hanging out with a friend who is a commercial motorcycle rider, be sure that your son is a potential school dropout. He will soon become a commercial motorcycle rider himself under his friend’s influence and that will be the end of his educational pursuits.
Visit garages and carpentry workshops today, how many young apprentices are you going to find? Far fewer than was the case many years ago! Many young people want to make quick and easy money and what better way is there to do that than becoming commercial motorcycle riders. Despite emphasis being laid on the professionalization of higher education studies, many university graduates are becoming commercial motorcycle riders themselves; a warped implementation of professionalism, forcing one to ask if one needs to go through all the financial and academic ordeals at the university only to become a commercial motorcycle rider. Is this not in itself a failure of the critical and creative thinking a university is supposed to inculcate in its products?
More educated and daring young people are finding an answer to unemployment through emigration. Although economic emigration is more recent, it has increased since the economic downturn of the early 1990s. It is now quite normal for middle class families in Africa to have the majority of their children abroad. This is important not only for the networks of financial support such migrants provide for their families, but also in reducing the number of discontented and unemployed young people in many African countries. However, some Western counties that have been the target for most emigrants from Africa are no longer interested in having economic emigrants in their countries, especially from Africa, and so instead of reducing or taking off many educated young commercial motorcycle riders from the streets, these countries’ present dissuasive emigration policies will only further swell the ranks of educated commercial motorcycle riders in Cameroon and increase the despondency of unemployed graduates. However, is it not escapist and foolhardy to allow other countries to solve the problems are own governments should be solving?
The Cameroon government has announced that close to 8.000 young people will be absorbed into the public service over the coming months, but in a country with a double digit unemployment figure, what will become of those who will not be employed? Will this not simply further exacerbate the situation and highlight the dilemma? Instead of finding a politically-motivated solution to a sufficiently troubling unemployment problem, would it not be more thoughtful and logical to bring together all stakeholders in the public and private sectors to brainstorm and implement comprehensive and cutting edge policies in the area of youth employment. After all, the present disturbing high youth unemployment rate indicates that unlike in the past, the government cannot pretend that it can singlehandedly address this escalating problem. Young people need to build the lives now within motivating and sustainable job- friendly environments, and not be distractedly allowed to ride their lives awry on mind numbing commercial motorcycles.