Youth empowerment breeds brighter future
The youth are strategic assets in nation-building and development.
Relatedly, therefore, the country, together with its key stakeholders and development partners, has, over the years, implemented a series of interventions targeted at empowering the youth.
Given the exigencies of the time, it is important to prioritise the needs and development of the potential of young people for a brighter future.
Under Ghana's National Youth Policy (NYP), a youth is considered a person between the ages of 15 and 35.
According to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, Ghana's population age structure is transitioning from one dominated by children from zero to 14 years to one dominated by young people between 15 and 35 years.
The proportion of children declined from 41.3 per cent in the year 2000 to 35.3 per cent in 2021, while that of young people increased from 34.6 per cent in 2000 to 38.2 per cent in 2021.
The rapid youth population growth could either hinder or promote socio-economic development depending on the interventions put in place by government and its stakeholders.
The growing youth population could be mobilised to support productive economy, create wealth and deliver critical social services to the citizenry.
But there seems to be a covert or overt means of neglecting this important segment of the population, which is manifested by the growing unemployed, underemployed and underpaid youth.
The Daily Graphic cautions that the situation could certainly be injurious to the country's development and adversely affect its future as the youth increasingly demand for more just, equitable, progressive opportunities and solutions in their societies.
This group of the population may not be far from right as they face challenges including economic and financial exclusion, adverse socio-cultural practices; a mismatch between knowledge acquired and industry requirements; inaccessibility of education and educational facilities; minimal skills development; low participation in governance; limited access to health services and weak development support services, among many others.
It is, nonetheless, worthy to note that the Ghanaian teeming youth have self-creativity and innovation backed by significant knowledge of information and communications technology (ICT).
The Daily Graphic, therefore, welcomes the remark by the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, last week, describing the Ghanaian youth, especially those in tertiary institutions, as fascinating, with ideas and innovations capable of driving the country towards the path of development.
Chancellor Scholz further indicated that with such youth, the country should not worry about its future (see front page of Wednesday, November 1, 2023 of the Daily Graphic).
We suggest that the remark by the Chancellor is a pointer to the nation’s duty-bearers not to rest on their oars in working assiduously towards the empowerment of the youth by developing their full potential for development to guarantee the country's future.
It is, however, sad to note that although a significant number of the youth in the country possess high level of qualifications in general knowledge, especially in the humanities and business-related programmes, all seems not to be well with them.
They hold certificates spanning Higher National Diplomas (HND), first degrees through to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
Yet many of them depend on relations and benefactors for their livelihoods.
Others, who are frustrated in life and have no means of livelihood, have also taken to alcoholism, substance abuse and armed robbery, among other deviant activities.
Some of them, who are able to venture into entrepreneurship, often lack the requisite start-up capital.
The Daily Graphic finds it heartwarming that over the years, successive governments have embarked on youth intervention programmes to address some of the challenges facing young people.
The paper is convinced that in order to tackle this phenomenon and chart the path for sustainable youth development, the government must be more determined to spearhead and engender sustainable partnerships with all stakeholders to tap into the creative potential of the youth as suggested by the Chancellor.
The need to effectively implement the new NYP, which spans 2022 to 2032, is so crucial.
It is important for key stakeholders to make it a working document.