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National Youth Service


The Act of Parliament, (Cap 208), established the National Youth Service (NYS), in September 1964.NYS was established as part of the transition process of the Nation of Kenya from a Colony to a National State. Notably, NYS was then initially established to support and resettle young Kenyans who had been disadvantaged owing to the struggle for independence. NYS was further charged with the responsibility of training of young men and women to serve the nation and the deploying of service members in tasks of national importance and service of the nation.

Since inception, the NYS has been domiciled in eight different Ministries creating nomadic enculturation in its governance. Between 1964 and 1979, NYS was under Ministry of Labor and later in of the President from 1979-1982. In 1982-1983, NYS was placed under the Ministry of Regional Development and then moved back to of the President for twenty years.

Following Government re-organization in 2003, NYS was placed under the Ministry of Home Affairs for three years, and then later moved to the newly created Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2006. In the 2013 Government re-organization, NYS was again placed under Ministry of Devolution and Planning,and in the Ministry of Public Service Youth and Gender in November 2015.

The philosophy of inclusion for the disadvantaged or disenfranchised youth remains a driving agenda for the Service. In this regard, the Service has over the years provided opportunities in terms of training, skills development, and employment for youth who do not transit to higher education. The role of the Service was, and remains, to re-socialize and empower, through various forms of training, and to re-integrate such youth through NYS programmes.

The youth have and continue to be engaged in projects of economic and more so projects that are large or for the community to handle on a self-help basis. A key innovative feature at inception was the adoption of paramilitary training needed to maintain a high level of character development among a large body of the nation’s men and women.

In this regard, the military type of discipline was instilled for cohesion, peace, and productivity. This aspect of discipline coupled with skills development and volunteerism associated with the service contributes to enhancing capabilities of NYS graduates and thereby making the graduates preferred in the job market. Fifty (50) years later, and with a population that had grown with a bulging youth that was 65% of its population, the government in, 2014 restructured NYS and rebranded with the objective of championing transformative youth empowerment in the country. Consequently, the 5 Point Vision strategic blueprint, was developed to provide direction in the implementation of strategies and projects geared towards the realization of the new Vision.

The Vision for the NYS became to “Catalyze Transformative Youth Empowerment in Kenya.” The Service was subsequently restructured within a 5-pillar framework. The three pillars involved programme restructuring towards the new Vision while the fourth and focused on institutional restructuring and sustainability.

The 2014 restructuring and transition did not address the adverse effects of nomadic enculturation of the NYS governance and as a consequence, the Government, in September 2018, proposed the establishment of the Service into a corporate body so as to improve and strengthen financial management systems, operations and governance aspects. Thus on 2nd February 2019, the National Youth Service Act, 2018 was gazette and thus repealing NYS Act Cap 208. The act vests policy formulation, control, oversight and supervision of the service to the National Youth Council with the Director General being the Chief Executive and Accounting Officer.

This in effect provides the necessary autonomy for decision making as well as effective, efficient and economical managementof resources for better service delivery. In addition, the NYS Act 2018 provides for Service members to be deployed to serve with the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) or in the defense of the nation within or without Kenya in times of emergency. Further, the Act also allows for the National Police Service to engage the Service of NYS members in events as may be required.

The NYS 2018 Act retains the core mandate of the institution as outlined under the 5 Point Vision and introduces the opportunity to undertake enterprises and commercial activities. For strategic reasons, the Service will still continue to use the 5 pillar framework. The first four pillars involve programme restructuring while the fifth, focuses on institutional restructuring and sustainability.