UN courts university students on development policies

Some of the students from Malawi universities

The United Nations has in partnership with the Malawi government engaged the Southern African country’s university students to provide a platform for them to share views on the future they want in the next 25 years by the time the organisation turns 100 in 2045.

The youth make up half of Malawi's population and 64 university students from the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), the Polytechnic, College of Medicine (COM), Mzuzu, Livingstonia and Catholic Universities participated.

UN resident coordinator Jose Maria Torres said the global organisation engaged the students from different countries into the largest conversation to listen to their aspirations for the future, challenges encountered and possible solutions.

She explained that they held a series of debates in the media and students from eight Malawian universities on topics confronting the future of humanity and the planet’s future, justice and human rights, poverty and inequality.

The UN Coordinator noted that no development can take place with some people left behind.

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Kazako engages Torres the UN Coordinator. Pic by Lisa Kadango MANA

“So we really want to celebrate UN at 75 with an exercise of active listening to what are the students in Malawi are thinking about those global issues and how they see themselves being part of a global conversation. What is the future that they want to see; not just for Malawi but also for the contributions of Malawi to the global community.

”We feel that it is very important to bring the conversation and open the microphones to people who are not necessarily part of a political movement but they are very engaged in their country in their fields. It is an act of the UN to say the future that you want to create needs to have the young people engaged,” she said.

Minister of Information Gospel Kazako described the interaction as important and is upbeat the conversation will give them the confidence and motivation to stand up and demand their space at the international body.

He spoke on the need to have tailor-made programmes for specific countries in the attainment of sustainable development goals.

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Some of the University students captured during the event. Pictures courtesy of UN

“Malawi has been involved as a government but we would also want to see a lot of young people going into the UN civil service so that they claim and able to influence decisions that would be pro-Africa, that would be pro-Malawi, that will be pro-Comesa, pro-SADC that’s very important.

“I also took an opportunity to share with the young people that as government there’s so much or so huge investments that we’re making in the area of ICT because the current generation when they grow up they’ll not be looking at hoes, panga knives and any other instrument apart from ICT.

“As government, we are also investing a lot of money towards that direction so that when the day comes that you’ve been called to duty to start building your country certainly you must have the necessary tools to help you build this country,” observed Kazako

The Minister is of the view that more needs to be done for the UN to be more relevant in its 75 years of existence to among others end hunger and disease

He challenged young people to be energetic, bring new thinking and be ICT compliant as they are crucial to Malawi’s progress and economic development.