Statement of the problem
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The absence of youth in the Mauritian political system is quite alarming but still no statement is being made about it. The total number of electors registered for the year 2009 is 879,897 and among them 222, 060, i.e. 25.2% are aged from 18-29 years old (estimates from the Electoral Commission Office). However, at present our National Assembly does not have a single member in the above age group (p.14 ). There is no available data about the voting frequency of the different age groups of the registered electors nor are there segregate statistics about the voting behaviour of males and females. Data on neither the formal nor informal political engagement of youth could be obtained from the Ministry of Youth and Sports. It becomes hence clear that there is a lack of research on this issue either because of an unrealised phenomenon or a taken for granted phenomenon or most probably the issue is considered to be an unimportant one. However, as highlighted by Kofi Annan (Secretary-General of the UN 1997-2007, World Youth Report 2003) said:
“No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifetime; it is condemned to bleed to death.”
The only hint that could be obtained about the topic in the Mauritian Context is a mini research which appeared as an article on one page (p.9) in L' Express Newspaper 04th August 2009 entitled: “Jeune et Politique: L'Impossible Alliance”. The mini-research was carried out by Dr. Catherine Boudet from Reunion Island. “En l'absence d'études sur la culture politique des jeunes mauriciens”, she has conducted a mini-research using a focus group of 10 youth at UoM and she has distributed 30 questionnaires among youngsters (15- 27 years old). However, she adds that “cette étude empirique ne fait pas office de sondage, mais elle a le mérite de constituer un petit barometre de l'état d'esprit de la jeunesse.”
At this stage, following the ontological assumptions are being made: Why are these young people absent from politics? Is it because of a change in lifecycle? Have they become disengaged? To what extent are they disengaged? Why have they become disengaged? Have they found other forms of participation with evolution? Are they not being given political space? On taking the epistemological dimension, suggested answers which form the hypotheses of the research are given to these questions.
HYPOTHESES OF THE RESEARCH
→ Young people do not have time for politics because of a change in lifecycle e.g. education.
→ Young people have found some other forms of participation.
→ Young people have negative attitudes towards politics.
→ Young people are disengaged because politicians do not care about their demands.
→ Politicians/elders are not giving political space to young people.
At this point, the aims and objectives become clearer.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
The double objectives of the research are to:
→ To know young people's desires and expectations regarding community and society.
→ Identify actions aiming to introduce some changes in youth towards politics and vice versa.
In order to reach these main objectives, the research aims to:
→ Explore the level of formal political participation among young people.
→ Explore the level of informal political participation among young people.
→ Find out if today's youth will or will not reach the levels of political participation currently displayed by the elderly.
→ Determine and study in depth the reasons of the disenchantment of the future politicians about politics and try to find practical actions to apply.
ORGANISATION OF CHAPTERS
The next step which follows as can be seen in the diagram is the theoretical assumptions which help in verifying the hypotheses and achieve the aims and objectives of the research. The theoretical framework is also the base of the research which establishes working definitions for fieldwork. All these are dealt in Chapter 2. Hints of the methodology can be found throughout the whole dissertation while Chapter 3 has been devoted mainly to the methods used to be able to extract information. Chapter 4 analyses and discusses the discoveries of the fieldwork and the dissertation concludes with the Chapter 5 where I also come up with some recommendations.