Minister advises youth to use social media positively

Written by  Fostina Mkandawire - MANA

Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Francis Kasaila, on Wednesday advised the youth in the country to use social media platforms positively.

Youths hungry for connectivity Youths hungry for connectivity
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He said social media platforms should be used to create awareness of outbreaks, market business and learn new skills.

 

However, he said some irresponsible youths use social media to misinform the public or discredit other people’s personalities.


Kasaila was addressing the youth during the official launch of the U-Report Malawi at Malawi College of Health Sciences in Lilongwe.

 

UNICEF and the Government of Malawi launched the U-Report Malawi, a free mobile-based tool for community participation designed to address issues that affect the youth. The new service, which is free on both Airtel and TNM, includes regular opinion polls sent by SMS.

 

Kasaila added that social media was created for people to make a positive impact in their respective communities citing business interactions and skill acquisition as some of the many things that the youth could benefit from social platforms like Facebook.

 

Kasaila said the U-Report launch was a milestone and an opportunity for young people in Malawi to have their say on issues that affect them through mobile opinion polling.

 

“The U-Report platform, thus, represents just one of the many platforms available to young people to engage with decision makers on issues affecting them.


“This will enhance the operations of existing youth participation forums such as youth clubs, youth organizations, youth parliament and youth networks at national, district, traditional authority level, and indeed all other youth networks,” he said.


He noted that there are traditional methods of engaging with the youth but said they are not appealing because of the cost and their limiting nature.


The Minister added that the U-Report is easy to operate and represents an innovation to reach out to more young people in a less costly manner and in a conducive environment as the youth can report without their identities being revealed.


“With the growing use of mobile phones in Malawi among the youth, I believe the U-Report will unlock and broaden youth participation avenues, thereby amplifying the voices of people. My plea therefore, goes to young people to use this platform wisely and progressively for your own benefit and for the good of the nation,” he appealed.


Kasaila also pleaded with network providers in the country to provide uninterrupted network coverage to the U-Report platform even in the remotest areas of the country so that hard-to- reach areas can be accessed.

 

He said the youth in those areas should also be able to add voice to issues of national development.

 

UNICEF Malawi Acting Representative, Roisin de Burca, hoped the U-Report would be a success and transform the way young people are consulted on important issues like ending child marriages and keeping children in school.

 

She said, “in other countries the U-Report can raise up the voice of young people and create real change for children, young people have the right to a voice on issues that affect them, and this platform offers the youth an opportunity to contribute using mobile technology.”

 

De Burca said the data that will be collected through the U-Report will be disaggregated by age, gender, and location, results and ideas will be shared back with the community, media and Government, to inform decision making, further information on the subjects polled will also be shared with U-Reporters. All poll results will be made public on the U-Report website www.ureport.mw

 

U-Report was first launched in Uganda in 2011. It's opinion polls and alerts are sent out to U-Reporters via SMS text messaging and real time response information, polling will be conducted on issues such as access to education, health services and safe water, ending child marriages, HIV and AIDS, and violence against children.

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