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“Protecting youth from radical recruitment”
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“Protecting youth from radical recruitment”

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Judith Akoth picDeadly terrorist attacks have Kenyans searching for answers. Judith Akoth, 23, a Correspondent from Kisumu in Kenya, argues that creating positive schools and homes can counter the recruitment efforts of radicals.

Following Garrisa University attack, there have been various expert opinions on how to tackle such atrocities to ensure minimum damages.

Many suggested withdrawal of the Kenya Defence Force from Somali; others said the government we should build a wall along Mandera – Somali border to prevent terrorists from crossing into the country unnoticed. Others suggested the government should act in timely fashion to intelligence information since it is alleged information about the attack was issued way back in November 2014.

I do not disagree with any of the above, because we have to brainstorm and come up with the most efficient and appropriate mechanism to bring to an end to terrorist attacks that threaten the security of the country. The militia group Al-shabaab is known – like any terror group – for pouncing on innocent, defenseless victims. It steals life out of them as a way of avenging their enemies. In my opinion, in order to beat them we have to do everything in our position to prevent them from recruiting our youths.

In the past, this terror group mainly consisted of uneducated youths whose minds had been brainwashed by radicalized individuals. However, this is apparently no longer the case. They have changed strategy and today are targeting a different set of youths. The group is now recruiting educated youths regardless of race and origin to commit their atrocities. In Kenya, it has been alleged, our very own Kenyan students are being recruited and used as tools of terror activities in the country. Already, at least 19 families from Garissa are alleged to have lost one or more of their sons to the militia group.

If Al-Shabaab is changing strategies, we should be keen on doing the same as we also reinforce the existing ones. Kenya needs to invest in youth programmes that invite the youths to participate in meaningful development activities instead of turning to terrorism and illegal activities.

Firstly, we need to pay close attention to the parents who claim to have lost their sons and daughter to the militia group. There are speculations these youths got affiliated during secondary schooling. We need to consider the possibility of our schools being targets for Al-Shabaab recruitment. The government therefore has a responsibility to vet all teachers regarding their background and professionalism in line of duty. If any is identified as a member of a terror group, appropriate action should be taken to expel them from learning institutions. This will reduce the risks of exposing our student to radicalized terror group members who pose as teachers.

Learning institutions should be a safe environment that nurtures students into a holistic individual, and the government through the school administration should ensure that atmosphere is maintained at all cost.

Outside school, the government should also continue to closely monitor our students through social workers to ensure our youths do not get radicalized during school holidays.

The government also needs to put emphasis on implementing sections of the Education Act. Part IV Section 28 (2) (a) states very clearly, academic centers or relevant educational institutions to cater for gifted and talented learners will be provided. However, there aren’t enough such centers to cater to the needs of students who want to acquire basic education and afterwards focus on their talents and abilities. Providing more centres will help by engaging the students in meaningful activities during schools and will also nurture the pupils talents while outside school.

We also find that in Kenya, most households are still run by patriarchal systems where the father is the head of the house. This can lead to authoritative relationships between father and children. It can also result in hostile environments at home, especially where there are differences in opinions. As a result, children can be pushed into creating other relationships outside their home. It is from such circles that they might encounter extremists who push them into terror activities.

Parents should therefore rebuild relationships with their children at home so as to create a harmonious environment. This will enable them detect any changes in their children’s behaviour or their circle of friends, and offer proper guidance that allows for participatory decision making which in turn helps their children’s personal development.

Youths are the key development players and the next leaders of the world. Protecting them would not only win the fight against global terror but also secure proper global development.

Photo:http://mrg.bz/HlldPa

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About me:

I am a confident and articulate graduate who enjoys engagement in journalism clubs and associations.  Young yet mature; I am interested in inculcating my skills in conflict management in regards to politics, ethnic and religious inspired conflicts.

I believe our future generations have a right to live in a peaceful environment that allows for holistic development. Currently I am a blogger and a volunteer at Community Based Organisations.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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