By Adoewori Fredrick
The continuous misconception about youths around the world is alarming, thereby causing discomfort in youth engagement in global activities. Over the years, misconceptions on youths had led to lack of trust and integrity in youth engagement and involvement in political, social and economic activities.
Youth engagement is a sustainable connection young persons have within and around themselves in the world
From that understanding, it becomes obvious that youths are important to the economy.
Youths are important because they are consumers, innovators, workers, entrepreneurs, producers and leaders right now and in the future.
Through youth engagement, communities can do a better job of creating the services, opportunities, and supports that young people need to develop in healthy ways. Youth engagement offers community leaders the expertise and partnership of young people, helping adults fully understand what it is like to grow up in a rapidly changing world.
From a political point of view, youth engagement is important because young people deserve the right to represent their own interests. Youth civic engagement is also critically important to prepare young people to be active citizens in a democracy.
MEANING OF MISCONCEPTION AND STEREOTYPE
The Cambridge Dictionary defines misconception as an idea that is wrong because it has been based on a failure to understand a situation.
While Marrian-Webstar defines it as a wrong or inaccurate idea or conception.
The Oxford Dictionary also defines it as a view or opinion that is incorrect because it is based on faulty thinking or understanding.
While stereotype simply means cognitive representations of another group that influence our feelings toward members of that group.
Lip Pmann (1922) introduced the term, ‘stereotype’ to refer to the ‘pictures in our heads’ that determine our perceptions of people and events.
Please, permit me to narrow my presentation to the Niger Delta area of Nigeria where I am very familiar with.
The inhabitants of Niger Delta region of Nigeria, in particular youths have been stigmatized of the subject matter which had meted undue sufferings to the youths in every ramification.
I will be delighted to pinpoint some of the ways youths have been misconceived and stereotyped.
This is the practice of obtaining interest by using aggressive and illegal means by few individuals or some group of youths within the region which had brought negative consequences to the region and the globe. As an aftermath, the world in general has misconstrued the entire Niger Delta Youths to be militants.
This misconception has created a lot of challenges to the regional youths within and outside the country. It has also reduced creativity within the youths of the region. T
I am using this platform to urge participants of this forum to join in the crusade against misconception and stereotype as well as militancy in order to attract sustainable development and to stop generalizing the wrongs committed by few persons.
Another misconception and stereotype on the youths of the Niger Delta region is the weak educational background posed by our early educationists asserting that the terrain is educationally undevelopable, no skills, stark illiterates and volatile. Based on this misconception, the youths of the region have been denied of access to quality education and educational facilities, employment, self-reliance, self-actualization, etc. which had introduced poverty, human suffering and lots more. It has been proven that youths of the region that were privileged to early education outside the region had become inventors, leaders, writers, etc. thus, if the Niger Delta youths have been given equal educational opportunities, they can perform beyond reasonable doubt. I therefore call on individuals, groups and governments to correct the ills of weak and volatile attitudes of youths towards education.
APATHY TO WORK:
There is also this misconception that youths of the Niger Delta region are not interested in work. They want to be paid without going to work. Even when engaged, they are indolent. Hence it has denied the youths of employments in oil and gas, manufacturing and construction companies operating even within the area and also reduced the concentration of industries in the region.
The few youths from the region that were privy to work in the industries have proven to be assets to both the region and the industries they found themselves. On the contrary, youths from the region are energetic and smart to understand work ethics and application of these ethics to enhance job performance thereby increasing productivity in any of their endeavor. So, I appeal solemnly to fellow participants and organizers of this forum to eradicate this misconception and stereotype that is affecting youth engagement in the region.
DISHONESTY IN INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
Again the youths of the Niger Delta region have been tied to dishonesty in information management. The holders of this view believe that youths of the aforementioned are not trust worthy to keep official secrecy within and outside their engagements and also portrait that they are gullible. The consequences of this misconception and stereotype have created severe unemployment, underdevelopment, youth restiveness and decline of creativity. I stand to vehemently disprove the above assertion on the ground that youths of the region undergo similar training like youths of other regions and thereby abide by the rules of engagement, professional ethics, constitution and other extant laws.
However, the proponents of this perception hold their view on minute populace of the youths that had been indicted on mismanagement of information like their counterparts all over the world. There is an old adage that says out of every twelve, there must be a Judas.
Therefore generalization of misconduct of just a few individuals (youths) to the entire youth population is not only wrong but satanic and undemocratic. In similar vein, I want to seize this opportunity to intimate the forum to repudiate the misconception of dishonesty, inaccuracy of managing official secrecy by the youths of Niger Delta region.
Therefore, this presentation attempted to define misconception and stereotype as regards to youth engagement, the various misconception and stereotype associated to youth engagement and the way forward- this can be totally eliminated by training and retraining the youths by both white-collar and mentorship and the government should also be sincere in the execution of its programs and policies in youth development equitably.