Transparency Solomon Islands conducted its second Youth Democracy Camp Workshop at Mendana Kitano Hotel, from 23rd to 27th May 2022. The theme of the workshop is, “Empowering Youths to be Leaders of today”. Dr. Alice Pollard delivered the keynote address for the workshop encouraging youths to take up leadership now with integrity and honesty with key message that “YOUTHS SHOULD NOT WAIT TO BE LEADERS OF TOMORROW, BE LEADERS OF TODAY, THE COUNTRY NEEDS YOU TODAY. BE POSITIVE AGENTS OF CHANGE”. She reminded that Youth [age group 18-34years] make up 70% of the total population of Solomon Islands.
The first Youth Democracy Camp was conducted in 2021 at Parangiju Inland Mountain Lodge. Due to Covid-19 community transmission restrictions, Transparency Solomon Islands was not able to take the participants out on a camp.
The program is multifaceted focusing on the potential of young professionals, youth leaders, and youths who are going through tertiary education, those in employment, empowering them with key and critical knowledge of their political, legal, civil, democratic, and human rights to be positive agents of change. The participants as was the case in 2021 were a mixture of graduates, non-graduates, employed and non-employed, politically minded etc. They are youths/young professionals that would like to see the leadership of this country embracing the potentials and providing avenues and opportunities for what youth can contribute and are able to contribute to the healthy socio-economic development of Solomon Islands for all.
The Youth Democracy Camp Initiative of Transparency Solomon Islands is aimed at touching base with young professionals both graduates, community leaders, student through a series of sessions empowering them with key and critical knowledge, information about their democratic, political, legal, civil, and human rights.
The Youth Democracy Camp build youths critical and key knowledge about the various Public Institutions of Integrity, enhance youths learning and understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of Solomon Islands, and as voters. The information sharing during the workshop focuses on providing key and critical knowledge and information to harness, and guide inter-generational leadership. They are aimed at enabling youths to engage and further create awareness activities that involve information sharing on their democratic, political, legal, civil, and human rights. As citizens of Solomon Islands and as youths with energy and drive and with mentoring, and key knowledge and information can be positive powerful agents of change. They can make a difference in the fight against corruption holding power to account [i.e., fight against corruption in the country].
The key and critical information, knowledge given is also aimed at enhancing the youths/young professionals learning and understanding of their rights, providing them with the opportunity to share their stories, lessons learned, challenges faced and ways forward in advocation for a change in the country, a change that will benefit all and not just the privileged. More importantly, being aware of key and critical information and knowledge, of their democratic, political, legal, civil, and human rights that they can engage constructively with power on debates and discussions of issues of importance to them, and issues of national interest and concern.
At the workshop, youths attended sessions providing them with key and critical knowledge and information on:  Understanding what organisation Transparency Solomon Islands is, what corruption is, what is politics, what is State, the difference between State and Government, what is democracy, democracy, media and civil society, what is a political party, what is party systems,  and party politics, what is election and electoral systems and why election,  the Constitution, the three arms of government and the Law,  the law  Criminal, Civil, Common Law, wrapping up with  understanding the Constituency Development Fund [CDF].
The workshop was further enhanced by presentations from a number of speakers occupying key positions in the government institutions of integrity. These included the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Patteson Oti, who as a former senior public officer, a diplomat, a politician, a minister in the government and now the Speaker of Parliament, and Chairman of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission who shared his vast experience of how the Machinery of Government works. His presentation connects the dots and the relationships, linkages that bind the citizens of this country’s democratic, political, legal, civil, and human rights for the participants with what democracy is meant to be in Solomon Islands. The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, the Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Public Solicitors Office, the Law Reform Commission, the Leadership Code Commission, Media Association of Solomon Islands made presentations linking Government, State, Democracy, and the roles and responsibilities and duties of citizens. All sessions were followed by interactive discussions and sharing between presenters, speakers, and participants.
The final day was given to the participants to debate the current issues of concern and interest to the people of Solomon Islands and Solomon Islands as an independent democratic sovereign State; the proposed extension of parliament and the China Security Pact, using the knowledge gained during the workshop sessions and from their own context, perceptions, and experiences what they have learned in the various sessions presented.
Out of the 200 plus applicants 25 young people were selected for the workshop. Through the screening process, those who do not qualify as youth [age 18-34years] were removed and the rest went through a series of further screening to arrive at the final list balancing, gender, provincial spread, graduates and non-graduates, youth leaders and students going through tertiary education, and politically active youths. The 25 Honiara based youth selected are distributed over the 9 provinces and Honiara City balancing gender, graduate and non-graduates, students, employed, non-employed, youth leaders and non-youth leaders, politically active and non-politically active youths. The interest by youth for such programme as this is big. The number of applicants for first Youth Democracy Camp  was well over 200 and this year 2022 was the same.
After the week-long interactive session’s participants recommended that such a great initiative must reach as many youths as possible. The perception that youths are the troublemakers is not helpful as most youths are law abiding and with such programmes as this, youths can be engaged constructively in decision-making as well as contributing to the sustainable and peaceful development of Solomon Islands for all, including a safe a secure environment for all.