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By: : James Yalya, Programme Planner, National Youth Service

Paper presented at Papua New Guinea Mini-Conference on National Youth Service - Youth In National Development:  1996 conference proceedings

It is an honour for me and a source of joy and satisfaction to have this opportunity to address this conference (PNG Mini Conference on NYS), an event dedicated to a worthy cause and one of out-standing importance, to my mind, on more than one count.

Firstly, because it is organised at a time when the country is just getting things organised to implement the Provincial Government and Local - Level Government Reforms. It is a time when young people will probably have to wake up and make a significant contribution in the decision-making process of this country through the Local-Level Governments and Local-Level Administrations. Although the fruits of the reforms are yet to be seen and felt, I am of a very firm opinion that the youth people of this country, if they are clever, would become the greatest winners (of the reforms) than ever before.

Secondly, because this conference coincides with the major conference, the 3rd Global Conference on National Youth Service, and it gives our local participants, particularly those from the provinces, an opportunity (of a life-time) to meet with some of the most greatest leaders and operators of Youth Service Organisations from around the world.

Lastly, but not the least, I am confident in my believe that the success of this conference will, truly and surely, be a milestone in the promotion of the interests of young people and of their role in the building of a better and peaceful Papua New Guinea for all citizens, young and old.

When I look at this morning's program. I am supposed to share with conferees what I know about PNG's participation in the first and second global conferences on National Youth Service. I am happy to do so but I would rather be brief on my coverage on these two conferences because I feel I ought to talk my mind on other issues that are of more significance to the development and promotion of youth work in this country. The reason why I wish to do so is because I enthusiastically welcome this (conference) theme as well as the objectives of this conference. The objectives, in particular, impressed me most and I am optimistic this conference should achieve the prescribed objective and awaken the administrators and policy makers of this country whose commitment to young people may be in a state of uncertainty.


Our participation in the first and second global conferences on National Youth Service has to a large extent, enabled us to view National Youth Service as an important institution has a great potential to make the young people realise that he has, or she has a purpose in life. Moreover, our participation has enabled us to realise that youth development can be accomplished through the National Youth Service, and that significant social and other needs can be addressed effectively. We also noticed two things :-

  1. That both conferences expressed the fact that it is very important to introduce a programme, under the National Youth Service, that promotes voluntary youth participation, geared towards providing a service to their fatherland, and
  2. That Cultural and Youth Exchange programmes are extremely important, not just aimed at achieving world peace but more importantly to achieve national development and personal growth in that young person. Hence, the implications for a global exchange of ideas and a global youth exchange programme are quite clear. Effective policies and programmes at the local level or national level.

This is one of the main reasons why we are meeting this week, that is, to look at achieving objectives one and two of this conference.

I said in the beginning of my speech that I was enthusiastically interested in the theme as well as the Objectives of this Conference. Objectives one and two are of particular interest to me, and I wish to read out to you these objectives :-

  1. To create an avenue for Papua New Guinea Youth to discuss local issues affecting their development and assess their status in relation to the global youth movement.
  2. To identify and develop a National Youth Service Action Plan for Implementation at the local level.

I would like to ask you to pause for a minute and try to put these objectives in your imagination and think of options. We have heard in the last few days, from very high ranking and highly respected Papua New Guineans. We have now filled our heads with information, some of which are new information, whilst others are information that we already know. As we come to the close of this conference we will have to put all these information together and see how best we can work around to achieve Objectives one and two as they are so vital to the cause and the very existence of a National Youth Service organization in this country.

I would now like to take you back to 1991. Exactly five years ago, when the National Parliament passed the National Youth Service Act. This was the first major move to erect an enduring programme for the identification of our youth which would offer them the opportunity to learn and know more about their country and the higher ideals of service to the community beyond the thought of rewards. We also saw it as an abundant source of very powerful manpower to be put to the service of the nation and the community when the Crime Prevention Scheme was introduced.

National Youth Service has also, over the years, developed what would have become some of the most exciting programmes or schemes, some of which include :- The Community Development Volunteer Service Scheme, the Overseas Volunteer Service Scheme, and the Mini Loan Scheme. Some of these schemes got to a very good start and got implemented with a good level of success but for a very short time. However, none of these schemes lasted more than two years.

Despite the ups - and - downs in the success of planned programmes and activities over the years, the organisation itself, that is, the National Youth Service has grown from a very small organisation with very few staff members to one that has a staff on strength of about thirty-two, has a fairly good office in Waigani, away from the rest of the Department (Home Affairs).

National Youth Service has now come of age. The organisation is now able to organise and coordinate such high level conferences as this one and even international standard conferences such as the 3rd Global Conference on National Youth Service which will be staged at the Islander Travelodge next week. National Youth Service has also been able to participate and make important contributions in other high level conferences in other parts of the world. Our participation in conferences such as the first and second global youth conferences, the inauguration of the Pacific Youth Council, the formation of the World Youth Foundation, the World Youth Assembly, our participation in the Asian Youth Festival and Asian Youth Council, in UNESCO Meetings, and in other equally important meetings, have all contributed to making this organisation, that is PNG's National Youth Service, one of the recognised institutions in the world.

Today, despite our little problems, we look back with some satisfaction and feeling of vindication at the growth and virility of our organisation, the National Youth Service. Our service to young people, focused on community development, community service and youth participation in economic and social development was and still is a novel idea.

Today, your presence at this conference is testimony not only of how the concept of National Youth Service has matured, but its potential for boundless expansion for good in the future. A meeting such as this one can bring to the attention of many more policy makers, administrators, and even governments the merits of National Youth Service as a means of mobilising young people to contribute to the well-being of their families, their communities and the nation as a world?

No doubt, the hosting of this conference and the international conference being staged here next week will give a boost to our National Youth Service and also to the image of this country. It will showcase the Papua New Guinean model of youth service with its unique structure and contributions to national growth and development. The Conference participants can also, in their deliberations, identify the major issues that confront youths in this country and explore ways of attacking these issues.

Youths of the country, allow me to say it one more time. Papua New Guinea is yet to see the potentials of our National Youth Service. Unfortunately though the attention we receive is often surprisingly low-keyed. It is therefore expected that this gathering will not only provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information aimed at enriching and refining our youth service programmes, but also this meeting should convey an important message to those who do not see youth as an opportunity but view them as a problem.

Youths of this country, ladies and gentlemen, the phenomena of human conflict, ignorance and illiteracy, unemployment, drug menace, the fast rate of the depletion of our natural resources, rascalism, law and order, and environmental degradation are posing an enormous challenge to our social security as well as the stability of this country. This itself poses a different question of what kind of country and society will our youths of today, who will be the adults and leaders of tomorrow inherit. Fellow youths, where do we go from here, where is the solution? What do we propose?

Well, I believe that many of the afflictions of our country today can be effectively challenged and countered by tapping the idealism, energy, enterprise and commitment of our youths. Those dangers must be combated by mobilising the youths for positive responses. The youths have to be properly organised, to be able to achieve the effect, in a youth service programme. Pertinent to this task should be the systematic education of our youths at all stages. We must understand that education of our youths at all stages. We must understand that education is crucial to the basic framework of social development. The youths today whose actions tomorrow could have a bearing on our country would require, as we move into the 21st century, to be equipped with good, adequate and qualitative education. This would enable them to effectively win the battle for the development of this country and ensure its progress and prosperity. However, as I mentioned earlier, we need to recognise the necessity to go beyond the processes of formal and informal education for the development of our youths, and set up a systematic process for the induction of our young men and women into the processes of providing a service to the community.

This conference provides us with an excellent opportunity to re-examine our youth development programmes we have in the country. Perhaps we need to ask this question :- Are our youth development programmes perceived by politicians, bureaucrats and provincial administrators as essential, vital and appropriate to the mainstream of social development? We may also ask the question of whether our youth development programmes are instilling the desired kinds of social and moral values in the youth. Or perhaps we may also have to find out why is it that the attention we get from these authorities is often low-keyed.

During my last nine years of voluntary and paid service to young people, both within this country and outside of this country. I have always maintained that the social-ills of this country have their roots back to the days of colonial administrations. It is quite obvious, and I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that the colonial administration did not make any concerted effort to develop the person, that is, to develop the Papua New Guinean. Their interest was to get the most out of this country. This is why I continue to say that Papua New Guinea has a long way to go in terms of the development of its people and its society.

It is therefore important and necessary to continue to focus on what needs to be done in order to establish an effective youth programme that will promote integral human development. Integral Human Development is what Papua New Guinea needs at this point in time. We should really delay the promotion of youth participation in economic development by about another 10 to 15 years. What I am asking for is an effective social mechanism that will help prepare the youths to learn, to share, and to adjust to the challenges and responsibilities of our emerging nation. I also ask that our youths be given the opportunity to work together across cultures and communities. Their task will always be to promote community development, peace, understanding and co-operation.

To conclude, I must point out that as you come to identify and develop a National Youth Service Action Plan, I urge you to incorporate (in that plan) a programme that mobilises young people to provide them a sense and a framework for the actualisation of genuine and deep commitment to selfless, service to Papua New Guinea and its people, a programme that would seek to inculcate in our youths the values that are necessary for leadership and responsible citizenship.

As this is our last day of our conference proper, I assume that we have just about completed developing a National Youth Service Action Plan for implementation in this country. But if, at all is possible, I would humbly like to request you, as well as the relevant authorities, to seriously consider the following actions, which are just my own personal views :-

  1. Look at the possibility of introducing a national service programme, a programme that would :-
    1. Make it compulsory for all University graduates to provide a service to the community before they get paid employment.
    2. That provides a service oriented programme (not a paid job) for grade 10 and 12 students who cannot find a place in higher institutions. Such a programme could be developed with the involvement of the National Youth Service as well as the disciplined forces in the country.
  2. Look at the possibility of developing either an annual or bi-annual cultural and/or youth exchange programme between Papua New Guinea and, to begin with, other Pacific Island Nations. Such a programme would enable young people to know each other's cultures as well as other aspects of life.
  3. Look at the possibility of developing a cultural or youth exchange programme within Papua New Guinea. This would involve an exchange of young people within the country, from one province to another, studying each others cultures etc.
  4. Look at the possibility of training and developing a corps of youth volunteer workers who could be assigned, for a specific period of time, to another country. Such a programme could be viewed as Papua New Guinea providing one form of technical support to other countries.

It is my conviction that with the goodwill and commitment to serve (as a volunteer) selflessly among a people of different cultural background will in many ways bring a healing message, armed only with youthfulness, intellect, not for personal gains or rewards but for the sake of making a contribution to the development of the world. This, I believe, will promote the image of this country as well as our National Youth Service.

I also believe that this will gain the support of the authorities and the larger community.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think I have talked too much. Before I go back to my seat, I must urge you to think about those options that I have highlighted, together with other options that you may already have, and give it some thought. Perhaps it would also be a good idea to go back and discuss them with your respective Provincial and District Administrators for possible inclusion in your youth development programmes.

Fellow youth workers, before having to bore you down, I wish to leave you with an observation. Do you ever hear people saying, Nothing is free in this country! What does this mean to you?

To me it means so many things :-

a) It means there is lack of voluntarism;

b) It means there is lack of understanding;

c) It means there is lack of respect;

d) It means there is lack of responsibility;

e) It means there is lack of knowledge of moral ethics.

This is why we need to have an Action Plan that would ultimately instil a sense of voluntarism, respect, responsibility and perhaps understanding in our youths. And I believe that if we seriously look at developing programmes that incorporate some of the options that I have outlined I am sure we would have a society with respectful and responsible citizens.

Following this a brief on DRAFT CHARTER INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR YOUTH SERVICES was provided by John Maru, Commissioner, National Youth Service. This was modified during the course of the Third Global Conference on National Youth Service, so please see the proceedings of that Conference for details.

James Yalya, Programme Planner, National Youth Service, Papua New Guinea


GEORGE H. WRONDIMI, Conference Facilitator

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