Government Must Rethink HELB loan Defaulters Policy

On the face of young graduates, you can read hopelessness and desperation bogged by a label of being lazy and unwilling to become entrepreneurs. However, it is clear; youth’s talents, skills and abilities are judged using the old understanding of success concept, a classic case of measuring the ability of fish to swim on dry land. With creativity and innovativeness being a function of imagination, how could a graduate working in our chaotic matatu industry come up with an equivalent of a Mark Zuckerberg Facebook innovation?

This country must tap the collective intelligence of young people rather than label them lazy, careless and disengaged. For long now, significance of talents, abilities and skills of youths have been measured against access to employment in the old environment. But there are no more opportunities in government offices; in fact, there are scarce blue collar jobs too. Our agriculture sector is no option for our youth because of mismanagement and corruption. Twenty first century youths have ability to work from their hands, using digital tools. Hence need for creation of new platforms that encourages and inspires them to imagine of a prosperous Kenya within their relevant domains.

It seems the initial message by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on reclaiming defaulted HELB loans might have been misunderstood. But yet I think it contributes to creating confusion and desperation among majority population of unemployed youths. However, when I visited the HELB offices, they confirmed that unemployed youths will be required to report to chief’s camp to register and confirm their unemployment status.

Instead of telling unemployed graduates to report to chiefs Camp in their villages because they are unable to repay their HELB loan, the government should be asking them to report to industrial parks in their counties to create digital platforms to sell local agricultural products. But then where are these industrial parks? They were just campaign pledges right! I think the onus is on President Kenyatta in collaboration with county governments to get us the parks which will offer the right environment for creativity. I believe this is the river where you can never compete with our industrious creative youthful generation.

And from these industrial parks, Kenya can tap the sea of online digital opportunities and help our country compete on the global arena. From these digital sites, it could be efficient and effective to roll out many initiatives including the intended exercise of registering Kenyans for the Huduma number. Just thinking, how many industrial parks will be established by the 6 billion shillings that is being used to carry out the Huduma Number initiative?

Within the industrial parks our young engineering graduates will help create Application akin to the Safaricom Fuliza that could help HELB in mutual agreement collect their loans from graduate’s mobile money and bank accounts without causing psychological torture to unemployment men and women.

The grand theft and waste of resources by those in power does not make things easy for unemployed youths. Think of the NYS Scandal and the billions that have been lost in Kenya Power, Kenya Pipeline, maize scandals, and now the mysterious 65 billion meant for building of dams. The list is long and serves to dampen spirit of our young people, slowly destroying dreams and self-esteem.

To capture the prosperous Kenya, we want, we must not allow our young people to drown in the sea of desperation by stepping on their wound of unemployment struggles. Instead we must strive to close the cracks through which our resources are embezzled. We must tighten the noose to punish those culpable of freezing our country

With Kenya seeking to re-set her foundation and course, it is imperative to get the youth involved in every step. Let us tap their strength not their weaknesses. Let those making decisions seek to engage young people from the digital walls of their internet enabled smart-phones and computers.

In my mind I am thinking of Building Bridges Initiative. It is a significant move in the right direction. Majority of Kenyans appreciate the immense work of the task-force trying to draw a road-map to Kenya’s nationhood and prosperity. But then more is needed. I imagine of a youth department within the BBI taskforce leading and engaging constant conversation and consultation of young people from across the 47 counties and diaspora. This with a view of setting the agenda for a national conversation of the Kenya we want.

.The legacy of President Kenyatta on food security, manufacturing, Universal Healthcare and affordable housing depends on his ability to put together a team of individuals who inspire Kenyans especially young people into action. He needs people who help implement his industrial park pledge to Kenyans.  His legacy depends on his government getting rid of those ministers who have allowed grand sleaze happen within their dockets. His legacy depends on the success of the BBI that taps the genuine and vast views of all people.

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