Unemployment among the youth is a pressing issue, with some graduates remaining jobless since 2015. The burden of high expectations from their families, who often sacrifice greatly for their education, adds to their stress.
As a result, many young people find themselves susceptible to negative influences, making decisions that might not align with their aspirations.
Every year, Tanzania witnesses many young people completing their education at various academic levels, from primary schools to universities and technical colleges.
According to statistics from the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU), the number of enrolled students in higher learning institutions has seen a substantial increase from 213,829 in 2017/18 to 314,643 in 2022/23.
While this paints a hopeful picture, the reality is far from ideal for many young graduates who struggle to find meaningful employment.
One of the contributing factors to this predicament is the lack of suitable job opportunities, forcing some graduates to resort to jobs that are perceived as undignified.
For instance, a university graduate was spotted in Kawe Dar es Salaam selling roasted corn by the roadside – an unfortunate situation reflecting their challenges.
Dumisha Amani project
For these reasons, Kilwa District plans to establish a Special Youth Centre (ICT Centre) in collaboration with the Global Peace Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the youth in pursuing better opportunities.
The centre will be a hub for coordinating youth support programs, providing information on business prospects, employment opportunities, educational avenues, and practical skills training.
It is part of the activities of the Dumisha Amani project, a joint initiative between Global Peace Foundation Tanzania, UNDP, and the Office of the Prime Minister, which has shown great potential for the Ruvuma, Lindi, and Mtwara regions.
The project is dedicated to tackling the youth’s obstacles, aiming to create a promising future with opportunities and prosperity.
Speaking during the launching of the centre recently, Kilwa District Commissioner Christopher Ngubiagai offered valuable advice to the youth in search of lasting solutions.
He urged them not to be ashamed of seeking alternative means of livelihood, emphasising that knowledge alone might not suffice in their current environment.
Instead, he encouraged them to acquire practical skills that are in demand locally, such as automobile repair, cooking, machine innovation, modern farming, and fishing.
Addressing the education system, Mr Ngubiagai advocated for a shift towards technical education, citing examples from China and other developing nations that have successfully supported their youth through similar approaches.
“Instead of offering outdated degrees, let’s focus more on vocational education,” he remarked. “China and several developing countries have provided a great example of how to support groups of young people.”
Highlighting the youth’s challenges, Nyasa district commissioner Filberto Sanga, who was also present at the function, stressed the importance of empowering young people with constructive means of self-development.
Mr Sanga acknowledged that some individuals resort to illicit activities due to the pressure to succeed quickly, and he laments how criminal elements often exploit vulnerable youth.
“Every young person aspires to achieve rapid progress, competing with their peers regardless of the methods they employ to succeed,” he noted. “They often find themselves resorting to inappropriate means to attain success quickly.
“Even if they are told, ‘Here are drugs, just haul them, and you’ll gain wealth,’ they are willing to do it! If they hear about things to steal in a certain place, they go and steal, expecting to acquire wealth.”
To combat these challenges, Dr Nassibu Richard Mwaifunga, the Coordinator of Youth Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister, discussed government initiatives to foster economic upliftment among young people.
These include providing individual loans, offering local and international scholarships, and creating opportunities for practical skills training.
Speaking from their experiences, young participants asserted that proactive action is essential. They encourage their peers not to accept unemployment passively but to actively seek available opportunities, viewing loans as viable opportunities rather than burdens.
They stress the importance of honesty and hard work in achieving personal and societal peace.
Martha Nghambi is the Country Director for Global Peace Foundation Tanzania.