50 youths from all across the islands gathered in Honiara for a week in Parliament discussing policies, programmes and resources; a meeting which costs one million dollars.

50 Youths congregated for 1 week costing one million is definitely an expensive brand. The youth brand lures mighty development advocators - the likes of UNDP, UNICEF, CYP and Oxfam to get a chunk of the pie for their records. I have no problem with that.

What concerns me is the mediocre substance of the event itself. As reported in the media, the objectives of the Youth Parliament are threefold; to encourage enrolement and voting participation of youths; to provide positive image of youths as active citizens; and to raise the profile and relevance of Parliament and government.

While I would like to believe that any Youth related initiative is a positive contribution to youth development, any initiative that falls short of being simple, measurable and sensitive is a no-no. This meeting is one of such. The idea is brilliant but not for this age group, it is a nuisance because it is irrelevant considering the cognitive ability of the age group involved. Talking policies and programmes is abit out of depth for genuine contribution for the kids. Read the objectives again and see that the objectives are crafted to benefit politicians positive imaging, raising their profile and encouraging participation for their re-election, nothing tangible for the youths. In fact this is not the right place for the kids to learn about the ins and outs of government and politics. Its total abuse of the youth brand.

This exercise misleads citizens to believe that we are doing something for our emerging leaders. What we need is for political leaders to come down to the level of youths in a community environment where they have roles in decision making within their groups or the community and spend a week stimulating and mentoring them. Focus on character education and development, visioning and aspirations and understanding of inherent skills that must be stimulated and liberated for essential growth for emerging leaders. Understanding the systems and structures and etiquettes of parliament is secondary to character building for strong leadership growth.

I wonder how much of the 1 week experience will last a lifetime and influence the decisons of these youths to achieve the objectives of the meeting? I wonder if this is a true million dollar experience for the kids or the politicians?