Words by Jason Gagame
Art by Kelvin Kelo Neleta
As a youth growing up in a society where the youth populace is growing rapidly every year, it’s inevitable that poverty and social injustice are likely to be the main causes of youth-related issues in the Solomon Islands. As a child growing up, my parents used to tell me to go to school, study hard to be able to pass all levels of education until I graduated from university. But after completing my undergraduate degree at the University of the South Pacific and returning home to enter the workforce, everything changed. The simple story of going to school and getting a job after university was just a mere checklist for every individual growing up in a society that assumes having a job is for everyone. I am saying this because, as a young Solomon Islander, much has changed around me and the society I live in. Globalisation has changed people’s livelihoods and how we see things.
As I reflect on my personal opinion on poverty and social justice in the Solomon Islands, I want to stress that poverty to me means a lack of opportunities for young people in the Solomon Islands and the social injustices that continue to put many youths at a disadvantage. Thus, for this reason, I am going to reflect on a few points that, in my experience, I think are the key issues facing youths in the Solomon Islands.
To begin, youths in the Solomon Islands face several complex issues that require urgent attention from the government and the wider community. I can see that there is a need for greater investment in the education and training of young people, as well as more comprehensive support for their mental health and well-being. One of the most pressing issues facing youth in the Solomon Islands is a lack of access to quality education and training. Many young people struggle to complete their education due to a lack of resources and support, which can limit their opportunities for employment and further study. The government and other stakeholders should work to improve access to education and training, including vocational education and apprenticeships, to help young people build the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.
Unemployment is also a major concern for young people in the Solomon Islands. The lack of job opportunities can lead to a sense of hopelessness and frustration, which can contribute to a range of social problems, including crime and substance abuse. The lack of access to education and training opportunities is another issue that affects the youth of the Solomon Islands. Many young people in the country do not have the opportunity to complete their education due to factors such as poverty, lack of resources, and the high cost of education.
Another major issue facing youth in the Solomon Islands is poor mental health and well-being. Many young people struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, and there is a lack of resources and support available to help them. The government should prioritise mental health services for young people, including counselling and therapy, as well as community-based programs to help promote mental wellness.
There is a need for greater investment in programs and initiatives that empower youth in the Solomon Islands to take an active role in their communities. This can include initiatives that promote youth participation in decision-making, as well as programs that support youth-led community development projects. By giving young people a greater voice and role in their communities, we can help them build the skills and confidence they need to succeed and thrive.
Therefore, the challenges facing youth in the Solomon Islands are significant, but with greater investment and support, we can help young people overcome these obstacles and build a brighter future for themselves and their communities. It is up to all of us to come together and work towards a more just and equitable society where all youth have the opportunity to succeed.