On the occasion of the International Youth Day which is marked globally on 12th August each year, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) wishes to reiterate its age-long call on government and the relevant stakeholders to pay particular attention to the myriad of challenges confronting the youth of the country of late.
This day (International Youth Day) is one, set up by the United Nations (UN) ostensibly, to create global awareness about matters of youth development and more importantly, to challenge governments of Member States to see as priority, the germane concerns of its youthful population and tackle same with the necessary alacrity.
This year, the celebration is anchored on the theme, “International Youth Day and The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”.
Our call has been necessitated by the fact that students form a significant majority of the youth of this country and as the embodiment of the students of Ghana, we deem it highly imperative to add our voice to this global call and also bring to the fore, some of the major concerns confronting the youth of our country today. We are doing this with the hope that government, civil society organizations and indeed, all the relevant stakeholders in the enterprise of youth development would take these issues seriously and effectively play their part in ensuring that the youth of our country, who undoubtedly, represent the hope and future of Ghana, are properly attended to under the circumstances for the love of God and country.
It is important to note that, poverty especially among the youth can effectively be reduced if the nation considers seriously accessible affordable and quality higher education.
Accessible and affordable higher education is one of the key challenges facing the youth of Ghana and therefore Ghana.
Today, unemployment, is the number one challenge confronting the youth of this country. In fact, the figures (scarcely accurate as they are) are very scary and must be seen, as a threat to national security. We may consider driving our focus to the hundreds of thousands of youth in the labour market, who are desperately looking for jobs but can’t find any.
The narrative is same or even worse when it comes to graduate unemployment in the country. Annually, the over 70,000 graduates that are churned out from our tertiary educational institutions find it extremely difficult and almost impossible to secure the needed jobs or gainful employment. Desperation has become their lot regrettably. Government efforts , unfortunately, is not enough to redress these challenges and this development, we find, very worrying to say the least.
As if that is not enough, the government has also put a net freeze on public sector employment, which essentially means that the nation’s graduates cannot easily get enrolled in the public sector of the economy because government is not employing except under some exceptional circumstances.
NUGS is thus, calling on government to reconsider this policy especially because the private sector alone, can’t absorb the huge number of graduates. In fact, the private sector, is heavily challenged with the astronomical taxes slapped on their profits as well as general economic problems at stake.
We have however noticed with delight, a novelty introduced by government in 2014 under The Youth Enterprise Support (YES) with 10 billion seed capital to provide entrepreneurial support to the youth, who are able to demonstrate such qualities. Government should pay particular attention to this policy and make it more efficacious to support as many youth as possible.
Equally, government should deepen its engagement with the youth in key decision making and formulation of policies.
In furtherance of this, we wish to call on all Political Parties to clearly come out with their policies on education and for the youth of Ghana.
Come out with YOUR MANIFESTO , let’s interrogate it and be informed to make informed decisions.
Also, Political parties leaders and communicators should be engaged in discussions that are derived from their policies than the usual unnecessary insults on one another that do not by any means add any value to our democracy and Nation at large.
We, the students and youth of Ghana are demanding for more opportunity to develop ourselves, an opportunity to work for our country and ultimately, an opportunity to contribute our quota to national growth and development.
NUGS is hopeful that government and indeed all the relevant stakeholders in youth development , would take a cue from the legitimate concerns so identified and enact pragmatic policies to redress same for our county, Ghana.
To our colleagues students and youth of Ghana, we wish to admonish you to be creative, patriotic and ready to take advantage of all available opportunities.
Also, let us season our speeches and guard against anything untoward as we approach another general election for Ghana.
In conclusion, we are drawing the attention of Government on access to education, employment issues and youth engagement in decision making.