It is the case that many years ago Allah created humanity through Adam and Eve and placed at their disposal, abundant natural resources. Since then our population has been expanding to the extent that today we are around 7. 6 billion people of all races and all colors, currently in the world. As it is, the status of human beings appears in various categories, the very wealthy among them being entrepreneurs, kings, and queens and political leaders and, middle level people and the poor. Although the Almighty, as the creator has provided opportunities for means of livelihood for us, it behooves on men to perform various duties such as farming, commercial activities and hard labor to support themselves. In Ghana as in other parts of Africa we have our fair share of problems emanating from rapid population increase. From a population of 6 million at independence in 1957, we in Ghana are now around 27 million people. We have wealthy people among us but majority of the people are of the middle levels and poor such as those in Zongos most of who engage in subsistence farming and trading in markets with others as laborers and watchmen. As the population is growing there is rapid increase in the population of youth who are our future leaders.
While the wealthy people find it easy to support their children, those from poor homes are found struggling to help their children to be able to hold their own in the society. Most of the drop outs and the unemployed are often found in street corners selling various items for a living, others loiter about while some serve at ‘kaya Yei’ or land guards. Very few of the drop outs and unemployed youth learn to become fitters, vulcanizes, tailors, hairdressers and commercial drivers. The increase in the unemployed has got to the point that most of them have joined forces with political parties to serve as vigilantes engaging in activities such as harassment of officials appointed by government and threatening to oust them from office. The problems emanating from the wayward youth has led to the current government taking various steps to nip them in the bud. Currently we are pleased to realize that the situation has been arrested to some extent following the preparedness of the government to take action against those found wanting. Note that vigilantism is so bad that throughout the world it is becoming a time bomb ready to explode to disturb the peace of the people. Fortunately, over the years, succeeding governments have adopted moves to find solution to the problem of waywardness.
There is another reason to pay more attention to Africa’s youth, many analysts believe. With 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 (the youth bracket), Africa has the youngest population in the world. The current trend indicates that this figure will double by 2045, according to the 2012 African Economic Outlook report prepared by experts from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the industrialized countries’ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), among others.
The story of Africa’s worrisome youth unemployment is often told alongside the story of the continent’s fast and steady economic growth. While six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa, the unemployment rate for that region is 6%, according to the AfDB. Compared to the world average of about 5%, its rate may not seem that high. But the problem is that in most African countries, youth unemployment “occurs at a rate more than twice that for adults,” notes the AfDB.
Youth account for 60% of all African unemployed, according to the World Bank. In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate is an eyebrow-raising 30%. It is even worse in Botswana, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, South Africa and several other countries. Ghana is not mentioned among the nations with very serious unemployment among the youth, but however little, we have our share of youth unemployment.
Just like the past governments of Ghana, the current government has promised to find solution to the problem by providing employment to about 100,000 graduates in the coming years as captured in the 2018 budget. Security establishments like the military, prisons, police, the immigration have begun recruitment exercises to get the youth some employment.
The government has over the years provided jobs for youth under various modules of the youth employment authority.
Under the national service scheme the government has been engaging many youths in various institutions in schools’ banks, civil and public services for a year. Even before the exercises being carried out by the government to keep some educated youths busy, Imams and responsible members and organizations in the Muslim communities have done a lot to assist the youth in Ghana.
Apart from preaching in mosques against waywardness, and other bad deeds among the youth the Muslim elders have established schools placed under the Islamic Education Unit of Ghana Education Service to train children and youth in secular education alongside Islamic knowledge. The individuals include the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu who has built basic schools and is now about to open a university in Kasoa near Accra. Other Islamic organization such as Ahlul Sunna Wal Jamma and Islamic Council for Development and Humanitarian Services have built schools in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Koforidua and many other towns.
To assist the youth from Muslim homes to enjoy sound education various charitable organizations like SONSETFUND and Zakat Fund have been set up to support needy students in schools. In addition to these initiatives it is our belief that the coming on stream of the Zongo Development Fund established by act of parliament under Zongo and inner cities Ministry would help matters in the areas of secular education and vocational training.
What is also likely to boost the knowledge base of many youths especially from less developed areas including Zongos to be responsible citizens in future is the free senior secondary scheme introduced by the current government of Ghana. If the scheme is handled properly a large number of youths who otherwise would have not gained access to education would be educated to high level. They would sure go on to become technocrats to occupy responsible positions in the country.
To be able to find lasting solution to the problems of education and employment for growing number of youths in Ghana, the following measures are needed;
The leadership of Muslims including Imams’ Islamic scholars and organizations must team up to set up a working committee with the Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Affairs and some donors.
• The committee should have branches in all regions and districts across the country.
• The committee may team up with National Commission for Civic Education [NCCE]to educate the youth in mosques and communities to appreciate their rights and responsibilities under the 1992 constitution, especially on how to be patriotic and obey their parents, authorities as they acquire knowledge.
• The Imams and Islamic scholars would also be required to intensify their preaching in the mosques, schools and communities on morality and the importance of education and pursuit of vocational training against joining groups of ‘bad boys’
• Apart from organizing public education in schools and communities’ conscious effort must be made to introduce computer knowledge classes in all Islamic schools to impart the knowledge of Information Communication and Technology [ICT] to the youth.
• ICODEHS under Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim has begun this exercise already by providing computers to some schools throughout the country. That would lead to the youths acquiring the right knowledge over the wrong use of computers to engage in computer fraud [sakawa].
• The youth should also be taught the right way of using telephones. With the help of the Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Affairs, the qualified youths could be made to set up computer centers in towns and villages to provide services on paperless transactions for those acquiring passports, registration certificates etc. and to run digital libraries for workers and students.
• The youths made up of school drop outs, illiterates and school leavers could also be taken through entrepreneurship, to learn how to enter into businesses such as salesmanship, phone card vending, hairdressing’ and to become tailors and seamstresses.
• Some can be made to learn how to run restaurants and the running of grocery shops.
• On completion of their courses startup capital can be given them through banks and MASLOC after proposals are prepared for them.
• Another area of importance that can engage the time of the youths is sports. Table tennis, football lawn tennis comes to mind. The youths could be drafted and sent to sports academies to learn the sports to become professionals. they would be encouraged to combine the sports with academic work in order to be useful on or off the playing fields.
With the above methods, it is possible for a large number youths in Ghana to be engaged in useful and profitable activities side by side the acquisition of secular knowledge, for their benefit and the nation as a whole
Source: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai