Last week was an exciting moment for Ghana. The world’s attention was on the country as it hosted the World Press Freedom Day. The same week (May 1) marked International Workers Day, also known as ‘Labour Day’ or ‘Workers Day’.
The day is set aside by the majority of countries around the world to honour and celebrate the working class across global communities.
In Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo used the occasion to also launch the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo) scheme as an alternative job creation opportunity for the country’s teeming jobless graduates.
The programme, launched last week Tuesday and expected to create 100,000 jobs in seven sectors of the economy including Health, Education, Agriculture and ICT, has already seen more than 40,000 applicants for placement.
The programme, to be managed by the Office of the President, focuses on alleviating shortfalls in public service delivery. The beneficiaries receive a stipend of GH¢700, with their engagement lasting for three years.
Before I come to NaBCO, let me first of all salute workers all over the world, particularly Ghanaian workers, including media practitioners, for their hard work towards national development. Their role as key stakeholders in the good governance process cannot be downplayed and they deserve a pat on their shoulders.
Notwithstanding the challenges and trying circumstances under which the Ghanaian worker operates at the various workplaces, they are playing a yeoman’s role to get the nation’s act together.
Over the years, workers in the country have consistently fought for more ‘humane’ working hours and wages but to no avail. They have consistently complained of being paid slave wages while employers accuse workers of wasteful and low productivity.
However, in order to get the best out of the worker and properly celebrate their accomplishments, there is the need to empower the worker to be more effective in moving the development of the nation forward. This calls for pro-activeness and innovations on the part of both the employee and the employer to derive the best out of the worker.
Attack on journalists
This brings to mind the treatment meted out to workers such as journalists in the course of their duty in the country. At a time global attention is on Ghana and our President is all out in the public space defending the right of the journalist, some journalists are still being assaulted left, right and centre. The latest one happened to a female journalist right at the headquarters of the ruling party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in Accra last week Friday when she was attacked and slapped by a female party fanatic.
Though the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has on numerous occasions condemned acts of assault on some Ghanaian journalists, I think it is time to go beyond just issuing statements of condemnation and make sure that something is done to the perpetrators. That is why I find it most expedient for the GJA to activate the legal process by going to court on behalf of their members any time they come under attack. The GJA over the period has issued statements upon statements any time their members come under attack for doing their work, but this has not stopped journalists from being beaten up by enemies of press freedom and speech. I do hope this time around, the GJA leadership will bite the bullet and right the emerging wrongs in society.
Modules under NaBCo
Having said this, I would like to commend the government for initiating the laudable NaBCo policy despite the criticisms by some sections of society. If for nothing at all, at least in terms of what NaBCo seeks to achieve in the short to medium term, the policy can at best be described as a good social intervention.
This is because the policy, devoid of partitianship, will go a long way to get some working experience for the unemployed Ghanaian graduate. The modules under NaBCo include the Feed Ghana module where people serve as agric extension officers to help our farmers. There’s also the Educate Ghana module where people will teach science and mathematics in high schools. The Revenue Ghana module will take graduates into the Ghana Revenue Authority to help in the collection of revenue.
Then there’s also the Heal Ghana module where nurses who have been sitting home without jobs after school will be employed.
To make NaBCO more impactful requires a more carefully thinking through process.
Is the Builders Corps one of an enhanced or upgraded National Service? After the upgrade or enhanced national service, what happens to the employed graduate after completion of the programme.
What are the exit plans and opportunity options available for such a graduate.
I understand the programme will run for a three-year period beginning from now to 2021 and after that what next?
After the programme has employed all the expected 100,000 unemployed graduates, will that be the end of the programme? How sustainable is the programme? Since the country’s tertiary education continuous to churn out graduates year after year, what happens to those unemployed graduates?
While the programme is solid, we still need to seek more long-term solution to our unemployment challenges such as strengthening government policy towards facilitating the industry players to employ more people.
Unemployment at worrying levels
The situation of teeming unemployed graduates has already reached frightening levels and to say it is a time bomb waiting to explode is an understatement.
It the mass of the unemployed is not checked with all seriousness by all stakeholders, with government as the facilitator, then the country cannot deny itself of an eminent social upheaval.
We need all hands on deck and this calls for problem solving attitudes at all levels.
As a country, we must develop problem solving attitudes to achieve our aspirations and for that matter move the country beyond aid.