Motivate Youths in Rural Communities

by Simione Masori
(Fiji)

How can we motivate youths?

Editors' Reply: Usually when adults ask how to motivate rural youth, or urban youth for that matter,they mean "how can I motivate youth to do what I want them to do?"

Sometimes you won't really be able to accomplish that, because each generation does seem to have its own idea of what is valuable, important, and worthwhile to be concerned about.

Having said that, sometimes the question is how to motivate the majority of a generation to engage in productive activity. That is a problem in many places in the world right now. It isn't exclusive to rural communities or to cities.

You have to go behind the behavior to find out why young people are not motivated to contribute to the society. Is it because they disagree with the leadership? The Jasmine Revolution may be showing us that young people just didn't like the old style of dictatorial leadership, and they want to see more democracy and a reasonable rate of turnover of the leadership.

You remember how when you were young, sometimes you just wanted change for the sake of change? That's what is happening sometimes when the youth seem "unmotivated."

There's another possibility too. The youth may not see a positive future for themselves. If they face a weak rural future, extreme poverty, a violent environment, famine, or epidemics, they may think that life is short and they should just enjoy themselves. If you think you don't have long to live, it may not be important to you to contribute to the broader goals of society.

Or perhaps your youth are just complacent because they have it so good. Have they been given everything and have no reason to strive?

Since we don't know your particular situation in Fiji, and we wouldn't know enough regardless of where the question originated, here's our idea for you.

Why don't you ask the youth?

Don't do this is a fashion that accuses them of being unmotivated or not contributing. Just ask them what they want from life, what they want from their community, what they want from the economy, how they plan to become the best person they can be, and whether they think they would need to move to a city to be at their best.

Ask respectfully about their values and philosophy of what is important. Then listen carefully.

If you can't get this conversation moving, try enlisting different adults to see who actually can get a dialogue started.

If they won't talk, maybe they will paint or make music to tell you what's on their minds.

If these youth are your relatives or young people that you know care about you at some deeper level than they are showing, you can try making an "I statement," such as "I feel angry when I think you're not interested in making our society better." Then just leave it at that. Don't jump to the next sentence that starts with "You," as in "You make me ashamed when you don't work." See what happens.

In the end, it's common for youth to go through a period when they don't seem to care about anything important. This is very frustrating to adults that are facing pressing problems or that want to move their communities to a higher level of achievement.

But rest easy in the knowledge that today's unmotivated youth often turns out to be tomorrow's leaders.

So do what you can to find out what the problem is, and to address the problem if you can. But if there's really nothing happening except the typical pains of being an adolescent, the best thing you could do is to lead by example. Continue to devote your own energies things that build your community and your society, and see if the youth don't become interested in their own variation on this theme.

Thanks for the great question, Simione.

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I agree
by: Deb

I have just read your article with interest. My position as a Community Administrator sees me trying to find out what it is the community and its different demographics wants and then if I can meet the wants as well as the needs.

The hardest part has been establishing two way communication and your article has prompted me to make another concerted effort with our youth.

I'll return to their meeting place and instead of informing them about what is available, I'll ask them what it is they would like to be available. Here's to hearing their point of view so then I will hopefully see the community through their eyes. Great article, thank you.

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