The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders, has launched the Youth of Ghana Programme in Accra, to encourage the youth to take active part in national development.
The programme dubbed: ‘The youth of Ghana: The future we want to build for ourselves, is an all-inclusive initiative to get children and the youth on board to work towards the development of a Long-Term National Development Plan.
Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa said the platform had been created to afford children and the youth an opportunity to effectively participate in the development processes. That would ensure that their aspirations and desires were heard, documented and used to inform the development processes of the country’s Long-Term National Development Plan (LTNDP), he said.
The Deputy Minister said the initiative was to make the voices of children and youth heard on the policy development agenda.
“While investment in the plan begins now, the benefits would last for generations, and as such it is imperative that all the different generations present have an input to ensure that the resulting plan not only gives a fair representation, but is also accepted and implemented by all, including the youth, who are to succeed the current generation of leaders,” he stated.
Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa said the youth constituted a high proportion of the population, and represent an exciting opportunity for investment in development and are specially endowed with energy and enthusiasm, ideas and creativity, endless curiosity and the drive to discover.
“The youth are important stakeholders in the planning processes and can play different roles as leaders, partners and beneficiaries of the nation’s development agenda.
“Their active participation in producing the LTNDP is not just for the sake of inclusivity; it is about harnessing the enormous abilities and enthusiasm of the youth for the benefit of their communities and the entire society.”
He said: “The future of our communities and our nation depends on the way we raise and support young people to handle the affairs of tomorrow. And tomorrow is not the time to learn – learning is for today. As the youth get involved in the planning process, they learn to lead.”
He noted that all children and youth within the educational systems are being invited to be part of this processes by making known their aspirations and vision for this nation.
He said with the second cycle schools, the 2016-2017 National Senior High School Debate competition is expected to focus on the theme: “The future we want to build for ourselves,” and be guided by the set of topics that have been developed.
“In a simple way, we want you the future leaders to tell us through writing and or drawing/art work what you want our education system or schools should be.”
The Deputy Minister said other programmes lined up for the initiative include a national essay and drawing competition, the Dream Ghana Week, series of national debates, a national youth forum among others.
Dr. Fred McBagonluri, Dean of Engineering, Ashesi University said some challenges confronting the youth today include erosion of national pride, poverty, shifting economy and education disparity, which need to be addressed with urgency.
He said the youth deserve good quality education that would make them locally successful and globally competitive. One that fosters critical thinking, strong leadership disposition and problem solving skills.
He stressed the need to establish a sustainable and effective educational ecosystem that vested the youth with opportunities to thrive adding that educational institutions also need to be refocused to embrace, adapt and integrate rapid changes in the world around in terms of knowledge development and innovation.
“We need to develop initiative minds that do not accept the status quo as norm, or as comfort but as a platform to innovate the future. Where diversity of ideas is norm and rapid advances in innovation psychology and leadership empowers rather than immobilises national aspirations”.
Dr. Mc Bagonluri said the youth deserve institutions of higher learning that are aligned with best global practices and an environment that encourages them to aspire to be the ultimate best. The ecosystems, where they can thrive uninhibited and free from any form of marginal advancement.
“Our youth need new inputs and measurable output in the form of great careers, innovative entrepreneurship, new product development and market growth, as well as education systems where research translates to practical existence.”
He noted that having a strong vision allows one to galvanise people towards achieving a course, making change and influencing lives and called on all stakeholders to ensure to make available limitless possibilities where nobody is left behind.