An initiative of the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly, the second edition of the National Youth Parliament opened on Thursday 8th August. This year, 82 young Mauritian citizens got to experience the functions and operations of the legislature.
Spanning over two days, the National Youth Parliament (NYP) opened in the Chamber of the National Assembly, in Port Louis, in the presence of various Ministers and Members of Parliament. This second edition received over 300 applications, among whom 82 new young people aged between 14 to 23 years old were selected. This year, 35 young ladies played the role of different Members of the House, that of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Business, the Minister of Ocean Economy and others.
The launching ceremony kicked off with the address of the MP Adrien Duval who congratulated the young participants for being selected. He uttered that the youth should be encouraged and inspired to take up the reins of the country in the future. He stated that the youth, with whom he had the chance to interact with, are motivated and well-versed and one day, they could sit in the House of Parliament for real.
Seizing the occasion, Adrien Duval drew the attention of the participants on two major issues, namely climate change and unemployment. He appealed to them to contribute in reversing the trends and effects of these issues, as they represent the future generation and the future of the country.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Ivan Collendavelloo, on his side, said that he has noted with much satisfaction that the NYP elected a woman as Prime Minister. Referring to various countries that are eliminating the gender barrier, as regards to the representation of women in the political system, Ivan Collendavelloo underlined that it is imperative for Mauritius to push for major changes in the political scene so that women are guaranteed adequate proportional representation for a fairer and more equitable parliament.
In her address to the participants of the NYP, the speaker of the National Assembly, Santi Bai Hanoomanjee stated that the selection process for the 2019 edition was really difficult, as almost all the applicants were deserving and underlined the need for young people to be involved in the political activities of Mauritius at an early stage. She emphasised that one of the aims of the NYP is to develop the interest of the younger generation and enable the youth to get acquainted with the parameters within which parliamentarians evolve.
A first this year, announced the Speaker, is the live broadcast of the parliamentary debates of the NYP. She stated that this will urge the participants to abide by parliamentary etiquette during their debates and at the same time, she appealed to the youth to be aware that their actions and behaviours would be watched by the public.
The young parliamentarians had a question time, statement time, and debates on two motions. The debates focused on the themes of zero hunger, sustainable development goals, industry, innovation and infrastructure. Sometimes lively, at other times serious and even intense and passionate, the youth seemed to be taking their roles earnestly and the atmosphere resembled closely the real discussions. When commotions occurred, the Speaker did not hesitate to get on his feet, call for ‘Order’ in the House and reminded the young parliamentarians that they had to remain cordial. Some ironical statements even hurled from both sides of the House, namely between the members of the Opposition and the Government, added to the animated and witty ambience.
Deepshikha Parmessur : “We have the power to elect a future woman Prime Minister”
The young woman who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the US shared that it is a true honour for her to be the first woman Prime Minister for the NYP. “It was really stressing for me, as it is a very important role but as we got through the debates, I started to feel more at ease. I was very impressed with the ideas and solutions proposed by the youth in the NYP. I realised through my role that a leader must know when to step out and let the members of his government shine and speak for themselves. I also understood that a leader must not only serve the people but also lead the people.” Deepshikha opined that it is high time to have a woman Prime Minister in Mauritius. “I did not hesitate to take up such a role and it is thanks to the support of my parents and the education I received that today, I feel confident enough to take up such a role.
Nowadays, we are benefitting from equal opportunities, irrespective of gender or background, but we must change our mindsets and especially the stereotypes on women that exist in our society. I believe we have the power to have and elect a future woman Prime Minister as we have lots of potential in our young generation.”
Badir Korumtollee : “It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity”
Impersonating the Minister Mentor, Oomar Korumtollee stated that his role was atypical compared to the others. “The Minister Mentor has a very specific role and I felt privileged to protect and defend the Government and Republic’s interest. It’s a tailor-made ministerial post for our present Minister Mentor who has indeed all the capacities to take up such a serious role. This experience was truly enriching, as I feel that I have learned a lot through it.” He encourages Mauritian youths to participate in the National Youth Parliament. “The selection interview to be a member of the NYP is tough, but I definitely encourage young people to participate. It is a one-in-a-lifetime experience that will benefit them in future. The youth have the opportunity to participate in various types of competitions in their schools but the NYP is significantly different. It is a learning and development opportunity,” uttered the 3rd year student in Logistics and Transport at the University of Technology.
Doolgeshsingh Jankee : “Changes should be brought to the education system”
Grade 11 student at the Saint Esprit College, the young participant who headed the role of Minister of Education trusts that there are major changes that should be brought to the education system. “Given our fast changing 21st century society, I believe that we need to come forward with new measures such as implementing more technological tools and aids at both primary and secondary level in order to go along with the changes and trends. For example, if a Grade 11 student benefits of a tablet, he/she will be able to have easy access to the whole syllabus, test papers, marking schemes and more. However the youth must use the technological tool in the most appropriate manner and not use it for leisure or play games.” Doolgeshsingh uttered that more emphasis should also be placed on human value classes as the young people are losing core values and norms. “The NYP has enabled us to become more concious regarding the issues affecting our young Mauritians and our society at large. It is therefore a platform that appeals to us to work hand in hand to get rid of social ills and thus make our Mauritian youth continue to shine on various platforms.”
Jehane Mohamud : “The NYP is an eye-opening experience”
One of the youngest participants, Jehane, aged 15, shared that this experience helped her to be less shy. “I am very shy and participating in the NYP has enabled me to get out of my comfort zone. I enacted the role of the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Co-operatives and it was the first time that I had to speak before a big audience. I was able to stand up and speak without any fear. I can proudly say that the NYP has indeed allowed me to learn much about public speaking.” The student of the Queen Elizabeth College stated that she was motivated to participate in the NYP after seeing the success of last year’s edition. “I have met a lot of other young people and learned a lot about many pressing issues taking place in our country. I can say that the NYP is an eye-opening experience. I also believe that our youth have lots of potentials and many will surely become leaders of our future society.”
Hicham Khamlichi : “It is really important for the youth to bring a change”
Leader of the Opposition, the student in Law and International Relation at Middlesex University stated that he enjoyed enacting such a role. “It is not every day that one gets to sit in the seat of a Member of Parliament. I have always admired our democracy and how the MPs play different roles on both the Government and Opposition sides. The NYP has given me the opportunity to understand and learn about the role of the Leader of the Opposition and how important it is in any democracy. One has to be very attentive and dig into various issues and also question the Government about these pressing issues.” Hicham Khamlichi confided that he has watched the live broadcasts of parliamentary debates. “I did watch our politicians on TV, however, I tried to develop a style of my own. I think it is really important for the youth to bring a change and not only emulate other people.”
Keshini Munisami : “It is really important for the youth to bring a change”
Woman deputy speaker, Keshini Munisami uttered that the role of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker is challenging. “When I went through the interviews, I always kept in my mind that I am a leader and that I need a platform to express myself. So the NYP, I believe, is a platform for all youngsters to be able to demonstrate their capabilities and also pass on their ideas to the Ministry.” Soon taking part in the Asian Youth International Model United Nation happening in Malaysia, Keshini stated that the NYP was an enriching experience. “My participation in the NYP has helped to enhance my listening and speaking skills. This has definitely been very beneificial for me as I will soon represent Mauritius on this international platform. The NYP allows the young generation to learn about what is parliament is really about. I can say that it was definitely different from what we see on TV as we felt the pressure when we were in the House. Enacting this role gave me an immense sense of satisfaction that in a way I have been able to serve my country and will also continue to do so in the future.”
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