Rekindle volunteerism spirit among all Ghanaians
The government has launched an initiative, the National Youth Volunteers Programme (NYVP), to ignite the spirit of selflessness and volunteerism among young Ghanaian towards national development.
The NYVP is said to be a flagship programme of the National Youth Authority (NYA).
The NYA is to provide relevant and conducive environment for the implementation of effective frontline youth empowerment programmes, including facilitating private and third-sector provider investment in the youth.
Third sector includes voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises and co-operatives.
With that understanding, we can proceed with the NYVP, which, in the next five years, is expected to empower about 100,000 young Ghanaians to have the opportunity to volunteer in areas such as agriculture, education, health, afforestation, community self-help programme, and gender mainstreaming among other modules.
The initiative is said to be for young people aged 18 to 35 years, older persons interested in it can volunteer with a particular expertise.
In a word the programme is meant to prepare the youth of the country to use their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to help build it without waiting for volunteers to come from other countries to do what Ghanaians have the capacity to do themselves.
And that it is a means to rekindle patriotism, propriety, discipline and civic responsibility among the youth.
It is sad that a whole a programme has to be launched for the purposes of rekindling rather than restructuring volunteerism in the country.
By restructuring, the Ghanaian Times means improving what is in existence already in any way possible as against rekindling which is bringing it back to life.
Years gone by volunteerism was part of Ghanaians and that spirit was exhibited in all the communities in such areas as the people putting up structures for schools, providing places of convenience and seeing to it that they were always kept clean and teachers and other educated community members teaching illiterate members to read and write.
What killed that spirit of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service?
Is it because times are hard and everyone wants to benefit financially from their energies and skills or it is due to deflated patriotism?
The NYVP as an initiative for volunteerism is not an entirely new programme in the country because the National Service Scheme (NSS) is a parallel system already in place for youth service.
In 1973, the NSS was introduced as a one-year mandatory employment programme for all tertiary graduates under the age of 40 yet there was an option for Sixth Form graduates who voluntarily did one-year service prior to entering university or doing something else.
What was unique was that these Sixth Form graduates agreed to do another year of service after their first degree.
They never argued over the matter; today some graduates want to avoid it for something lucrative or refuse postings to certain organisations or communities.
This reflects the demise of the spirit or the enthusiasm to offer community service among the Ghanaian youth.
The government says the NYVP would help the Ghanaian youth to chart a new course of actions for the country and whatever such actions are, the Ghanaian Times would like to suggest that the government should diagnose what killed the spirit of volunteerism in the country as part of the process to resurrect it.
Is it not interesting to learn that while the Ghanaian youth want to avoid voluntary service in the country, some young foreigners are burning to do so here?
Such young foreigners refer to the country as “Africa for Beginners”, because Ghana is the perfect starting point to explore the continent due to our country’s peaceful environment.
Some of these people are even ready to come here at their own expense.
Maybe the step by the NSS to prosecute and blacklist organisations which employ graduates who have not completed their one-year mandatory national service will
help in a way to force volunteerism among young graduates.
However, the spirit of volunteerism must be awakened in every Ghanaian.