National Service Scheme requires impact assessment — Prof. Bokpin proposes
Prof. Godfred Bokpin — Finance and Economic expert

National Service Scheme requires impact assessment — Prof. Bokpin proposes

AN economist and professor of finance, Professor Godfred Bokpin, has called for a holistic impact assessment of the impact of the National Service Scheme (NSS) since its inception, to first ascertain its relevance or otherwise before any decision on the way forward is taken.


He held the view that, such an exercise would reveal its socioeconomic benefits on not just the nation as a whole, but graduates and the private sector.

To him, such a move will also help to inform any decisions as to whether it should be made optional, compulsory or even abolished.

A couple of weeks ago, Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in his first major address to the nation following his election as New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential flag bearer for the 2024 general elections, said National Service would no longer be mandatory when he was voted into office.

His argument was premised on the assumption that many graduates get jobs right after school, and therefore it will not be prudent for them to lose that opportunity because they have not served as national service persons as required by law.

Each year, more than 70,000 tertiary graduates are assigned by the NSS to 12-month employment postings throughout the country. 

But in an interview with Graphic Business, Prof. Bokpin, in his reaction to Dr Bawumia’s proposal, said making the scheme optional could effectively lead to abolition, as participation rates may decline significantly.


He said the scheme’s value extended beyond its immediate budgetary implications and should be considered in light of its role in graduate transition and its impact on various sectors of the economy. 

The economist described the period of national service as a transition phase for many graduates, serving as a strategic period for career development. 

“Graduates often choose placements aligned with their career aspirations, with some securing permanent positions after completing their service,” he said.

Hence, he stressed the importance of empirical studies and analysis to evaluate the scheme's cost-effectiveness and its impact on various sectors of the economy.

Value to private sector

The economist emphasised the broader benefits the national service scheme provided to the private sector which he said benefitted from recruiting service personnel without the obligation of full-time salaries, making it a cost-effective option for workforce expansion. 

Prof. Bokpin said a thorough examination of those benefits was necessary to make informed policy decisions.

He added that without a clear understanding of those factors, decisions regarding its mandatory status risk overshadow its potential benefits.

While acknowledging the potential benefits of the national service, the economist called for a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to inform decisions regarding its continuation or abolition.

He highlighted the absence of a detailed position paper outlining the costs and benefits associated with abolishing the national service scheme, saying that without such empirical evidence, the decision lacks a solid foundation and risks overlooking its broader implications. 

The scheme

The National Service Scheme in Ghana is a mandatory programme for all Ghanaian citizens who have completed tertiary education. 

Established by the National Service Act of 1980 (Act 426), the scheme aims to foster national unity and development by deploying graduates to serve in various sectors of the country's economy.

Upon graduation from university or other tertiary institutions, eligible individuals are required to register with the NSS and undergo a one-year National Service programme. 

Mixed reactions

Meanwhile, while some have embraced the proposal, others have also raised concerns about the proposal to make the NSS optional in Ghana because they fear it could have significant implications for both employment and the private sector.

The NSS currently serves as a pathway for graduates to gain practical work experience and essential skills before entering the workforce. 

They believe that by making the scheme optional, participation rates may decline, potentially impacting graduates' employability since employers often value NSS experience when considering job applicants, and graduates without NSS experience may face increased competition for limited job opportunities.

Nana Kwasi Ofori, a Public Relations Officer (PRO) who completed his service in 2017, said “as a former national service person, I humbly disagree with the Vice President’s decision to make the NSS optional, in that I honed useful skills and competencies that I now apply in my working pursuit.”

He added that the national service initiative serves as a merit-based system where deserving NSS persons are retained and permanently employed by their user agencies.

For her part, Felicia Coffie, a national service person, said she has come to terms with the practical benefits of what industry requires going into the world of work which has also helped her to appreciate better what was studied in school and how it applies to increasing productivity.

She therefore appealed that the status quo of the NSS should remain to ensure that all graduates pick up the relevant soft skills required to transition effectively into the job market.

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