Our choice today as a country must never be gambling, but quality education. Our preference must be youth development and empowerment. It is too sad that gambling has become a way of life, and a major source of income for thousands of young Liberians living in a small nation endowed with abundant natural wealth. It beats my imagination to see Liberians standing in long lines everyday fighting for betting tickets. Gambling can never be an option to reduce massive poverty and youth unemployment. It only increases the number of unproductive citizens and less-busy minds.
If genuine and sustainable steps are not taken to enhance youth development through education, empowerment and employment in Liberia, I foresee a country of professional gamblers, beggars and drug addicts 10 years from now. We must understand that 65% of our country’s population comprises youngsters. We can only protect the future of this nation if we begin to massively invest in young people proactively and not retrogressively. Anything less than this leaves Liberia’s future on the ropes.
Liberia stands a serious risk of embracing a dead future if nothing is done now to reclaim the attention of most Liberians, especially young people, from a social syndrome that is increasingly swallowing our country. The addiction of this generation to gambling is alarming, and I foresee an unfulfilled destiny if urgent measures are not taken to arrest the situation. The demerits of this antisocial act are costly and any attempt to ignore this fact will lead us as a nation to an undesirable end.
Gambling is not a friend to any innovative generation whose primary goal is to take exclusive charge of a prosperous tomorrow. It poses a threat to our existence as a people and encourages an ill-focused and visionless generation that eventually becomes a liability on the society. If Liberia must make significant progress in this 21st Century by becoming a trendsetter of economic expansion, then our government must take the lead by persistently prioritizing youth empowerment and employment! Gambling is not an option for Liberian youths.
It is unarguably evident that the newest and most popular means of survival nowadays under the leadership of Africa’s first female President is gambling. This act has taken center stage within our bleeding economy. The economy of Liberia will continue to experience sharp declines until local dominance can overshadow foreign control. The need to develop young minds is paramount to national growth and genuine development. An attempt to abandon Liberia’s only hope will only add insult to injury.
As the poverty gap widens, access to equal opportunities remains visibly unseen. Our country is on a pathway to economic and political uproar if we continue to intentionally ignore and abandon the preference of this generation. Empowerment opportunities such as education and employment remain key to protecting our fragile peace. The skyscraping increment of gamblers, prostitutes, and drug addicts in our society, especially in slum communities needs immediate remedy.
As the number of betting booths, entertainment centers, and drugs hideouts around the country increases, there is less appetite to promote the culture of reading, quizzing, debate, academic excellence and quality education. As a result of this, the pillars of our educational system are crumbling. Students are no longer willing to spend hours reading and researching in order to ensure personal development. Other countries like Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda are far ahead of us simply because we have an ill-prepared population that lacks necessary skills to respond to existing global demands.
It has been proven that gambling contributes to a high rate of drugs abuse, prostitution, robbery, etc. Gambling harms everyone and destroys potential fulfillments of its victims. There is nothing good that comes out of this less-busy practice. We see how it affects families every day and hampers societal growth. Liberia has a youthful population that needs serious human development. More than 65% of our population consists of young people who are yet to find a marketable career.
What is this government doing to ensure sustainable empowerment program for over 102,193 ex-combatants who hastily underwent the DDRR process? The best solution to reduce post-conflict trauma is to build their capacity vocationally. Liberia needs technicians and technocrats who can easily use their minds and tools to enhance reconstruction.
As a young Liberian patriot, I have a solemn duty to always speak truth to the powers that be. However, it is also my responsibility to provide the way forward to bring an end to our people’s suffering. In order to help address some of our burning concerns, it is important that this government under the stewardship of President Sirleaf engenders the following:
1. Ban gambling activities across the country;
2. Construct at least two modern Polytechnics in each of our 15 counties;
3. Build modern youth centers and libraries in each of our 73 districts;
4. Establish a functional community college in every county and increase budgetary support in order to enhance quality education. Existing colleges lack adequate support!
5. Increase budgetary support to primary and secondary education and enforce effective school monitoring;
6. Expand local markets and hugely invest in the agriculture, energy, and industries; and
7. Create genuine public frameworks/structures to promote youth development, empowerment and employment opportunities.
It would be in our best interest if we prohibit gambling like Gambia, Algeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Vatican City, Cayman Island, etc.
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, student leader, an emerging economist and a young writer. He is a student at the University of Liberia reading economics and a member of the Student Unification Party (SUP). He can be reached at: [email protected]