Policy prescriptions for meaningful youth development in Ghana


“Today we have the largest global youth population in history and the vast majority of young people around the world are committed to peace, sustainable development and human rights. Throughout my career , I have met many youth groups, student associations and young leaders, and I have always been struck by their talent, their knowledge and their ambition to create a better world. With new forms of technology and interaction, your generation is also more open, cosmopolitan and connected than any previous generation.For these reasons, I am convinced that you will be able to do what my generation could not achieve.. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, speaking at the 2017 Junior Chamber International (JCI) World Congress in the Netherlands

Typically, critical youth development issues such as empowerment, participation and unemployment are key performance indicators for countries aiming to make their citizens globally competitive. Empowering young people to become active agents of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not only sufficient but necessary for a more sustainable future. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all aspects of our lives, and even before the pandemic, the socio-economic integration of young people had already become a challenge. So unless urgent action is taken, young people are at risk of severe and lasting effects from the pandemic (Youth and Covid-19 Survey Report by Decent Jobs for Youth).

As a country, we must adequately prepare our youth through deliberate political actions to play a positive and pivotal role in realizing a Ghana Beyond Aid. A failure in this regard can serve as fertile ground to reverse the gains made in the current dispensation from our democratic governance. Prioritizing youth development should be seen as a pathway to prosperity in Ghana. Current government efforts such as the implementation of initiatives such as the Nation Builders Corps, the Youth in Afforestation program, the youth employment program, the national program for entrepreneurship and innovation and the recently announced You-Start program are commendable . However, a more sustainable approach with an integrated and mainstream approach to youth development is the surest way to reduce the myriad of challenges facing Ghanaian youth. Such an approach will further contribute to promoting basic human rights, physical and reformative development of young people, including women and people with disabilities.

The youth development machinery

Historically, Ghana has implemented two major national youth policies, that of 1999 and the National Youth Policies of 2010. Both of these policies have had a direct or indirect impact on the lives of young people. However, they became outdated and needed to be revised to align with contemporary government policy and existing global and continental development frameworks and protocols such as the 2030 Global Development Agenda (the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs ), the United Nations Youth Programme, the African Union Agenda 2063, the African Youth Charter, among others. Both policies were also considered to have failed to address in detail some vital dimensions of youth development such as active citizenship and civic participation, youth involvement in political governance, community development and decision-making. at all levels. Again, cross-cutting issues such as gender and discrimination against young people with disabilities, as well as marginalization and young people with other forms of vulnerabilities were not sufficiently taken into account.

The government should accelerate action on the formulation of a new national youth policy to ensure coherence and coordination among government agencies and compel all ministries, departments and agencies, as well as district assemblies, to take consideration of national youth development priorities. plan their annual, short- and medium-term activities. An integrated approach will provide an inclusive and uniform agenda for youth development across all sectors and ensure that policy priorities are translated into plans, budgets and targets. An integrated and integrated national youth policy that is in tune with current demands would bring about realignment with existing government interventions and create an opportunity for the mobilization and leveraging of resources for youth development from all sectors, including including non-governmental organizations, civil society, development partners. and the private sector.

To achieve this, the policy should mandate the establishment of dedicated youth development offices in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to facilitate and harmonize the mainstreaming and integration of youth into all their programs and interventions focusing on the needs of young women. and young people with disabilities. This will create the formal and informal platforms required for young people, regardless of their gender, including the most vulnerable and marginalized or excluded, to express their opinions and views in order to achieve inclusive economic growth and human development. sustainable.

The merging of youth affairs and sports under one ministry is problematic in our current circumstances where sports have eclipsed youth affairs. The ministry in its current form does not even have a directorate, division, unit or office dealing with youth affairs. It is therefore necessary to create a ministry of youth development separate from the ministry of sports. This will strengthen the institutional framework to facilitate the mainstreaming of youth development across all sectors. The merging of youth and sports development as a ministry has not yielded the desired result, hence the call for decoupling from the status quo. A separate ministry for youth development would produce the desired result where the operations of state agencies implementing youth development programs and policies and non-state actors would be synergized.

Again, all government agencies and programs related to youth should be realigned and consolidated under one national youth development authority mandated to coordinate the government’s youth development efforts. In this regard, institutions such as the National Youth Authority, the Youth Employment Agency, the National Program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the National Service Program, among others, should all be disbanded to form a stronger National Youth Development Authority to ensure consistency and consistency in policy implementation at the youth level. development front. Such an Authority will play the appropriate function and role as the fulcrum of all multi-faceted and multi-stakeholder attempts to harness the demographic dividend resulting from the youth bulge in a well-coordinated manner to achieve the broader vision of the country. . The current system where various youth development initiatives are spread across different sectoral agencies creates coordination issues and harmonization challenges.

Again, the current status of the National Youth Authority with limited resources and staff has not been able to effectively play its role as mandated by Law 939. It has a limited presence in the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA). In fact, out of more than 260 MMDAs across the country, the National Youth Authority has offices in less than 60 of them and has not even established offices in the newly created 6 additional regions yet. In addition to bringing youth development to the doorstep of all young people at the decentralized level, expanding its presence will also create jobs for the many young people across the country.

Furthermore, the National Youth Authority Law does not have a Legislative Instrument (LI) to enable its effective implementation six years after its entry into force. As a coordinating and implementing agency, NYA’s coordinating role is limited by the lack of IL to operationalize its activities. It is difficult to coordinate other state agencies and charge required fees for statutory services without existing legislation to support its actions. There is a fundamental need for accelerated action to develop enabling legislation to ensure the operationalization of the National Youth Authority Act (939) of 2016.

In conclusion, it is important to state that the government’s current efforts to address the myriad challenges facing Ghanaian youth should be strengthened and sustained by placing youth development at the center of the next medium-term national development policy framework. with a mandate to ensure that all sectors of Ghanaian society prioritize youth development and contribute to identifying and implementing sustainable solutions that address youth development challenges.

The desired outcome is empowered youth who realize their full potential and become active citizens with a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities in contributing meaningfully to the development of a conducive, democratic, equal and prosperous Ghana.

Author: Muhammad Alhassan Yakubu (myakubu@jci.cc)

The writer is the executive director of the Center for Social Action and Development (CENSAD) and Key Member of the Skills Development Committee (SDC) of Junior Chamber International, JCI, headquartered in Chesterfield in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

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