Next time a politician comes and tells you how important you are and how youth are ‘the future and present’ of our nation – do yourself a favour, and take it with a truckload of salt. All it took to prove how oblivious the country’s leadership is to the lives of our younger citizens, was for tough times to present themselves.
In the academic world, last year’s ‘two week buffer’ is now in its 52nd week, and shows no sign of ending soon. Sixth form students have entirely lost out on an instrumental experience for any young person transitioning into the independent world, University students have effectively not been university students for a year, some having never even had the opportunity to visit campus once, and yet the demands of the system still loom dark over the struggling cohort.
Working youth aren’t doing much better, having been put under immense pressure as young employees see themselves being the first to be laid off and last to be considered – Maltese youth unemployment has risen to above 10% in recent weeks, and though that is a relatively low number compared to other European countries, the rate of decline is far stronger than most.
“We all had to make sacrifices”
True, and our youth have diligently done so all throughout the brunt of this pandemic, from voluntary quarantine to preemptively being the nation’s first to cancel events and shift online, even when the law did not require it. But the beckoning truth is, that this resilience not only went without appreciation, but has been taken incredibly for granted. Decisions were made with little to no consideration as to the consequences they would have on youth, as they were used as the permanent buffer throughout the year – constantly locked down, constantly deprived of the experiences they’ve worked for all their lives, constantly expected to pay for the reckless behaviour of government and nation alike.
The politician that in a couple months will be taking photos with us on campus, do not hold a shadow of a concern for your wellbeing, you are simply a token they will gladly use on their social media. Think about it – this year, you were relegated to the life of a sitting duck in front of your computer, all day, every day, never considered to be relieved, always under the all powerful excuse of responsibility and safety. All’s well and good – but is that all? Not really.
Whereas others were compensated, where’s the effort to help students recover the myriads of experiences they lost? Where’s the effort to help youths who lost their jobs to recover the thousands they would have brought home to their families or invested in their future?
In the words of government itself, money is not the issue. An unprecedented social media campaign is currently ongoing, showing the finance minister explaining how Malta is in a position to spend more than most of its European counterparts, and that there is no pressure that threatens the stability of the islands economy. This seems to be true, like when you see the grand conferences and budget announcements and shiny programmes – this week we’ve even seen announcements about cash handouts to be given to tourists… so where on Earth do youth come in?
The answer is simple, nowhere. They will be left to crash through the oncoming season, and will only start to rebound when the rest of the country has addressed all that it has to do. So next time you find yourself at a loss as to what you’re doing with your life, depressed about not having walked out of your house for weeks, helpless against torrential pressure, or regretting a lost opportunity – just remember, that thanks to your sacrifice, a middle aged Brit can get €300 to stay at one of our most luxurious hotels this summer, and doesn’t that make it all worth it.