Ghanaian youth are critical agents of change, societal transformation, and the country must invest in them for them to contribute significantly to sustainable development, Mr Francis Takyi-Koranteng, Upper East Regional Director of the National Youth Authority (NYA) has said.
He said poverty, unemployment, and lack of entrepreneurial support and reproductive health education among others continued to adversely affect the development of the youth and their wellbeing and urged the government to institute and implement measures to address those challenges as they unearth their potentials.
“Of course, there is widespread poverty, which is caused by unemployment and also leads to unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy, low status of women, exposure to environmental risks, and limited access to social health services including reproductive health services. All these factors contribute to high levels of fertility, morbidity, and mortality as well as low economic productivity.”
The Regional Director was speaking at Bolgatanga as part of activities to mark the International Youth Day, on the theme, “Transforming food systems – Youth innovation for human and planetary health”.
It was organized by the NYA in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Mr Takyi-Koranteng said efforts made by the government, development partners, and civil society organizations towards addressing the numerous challenges confronting the youth was not enough, “the situation still persists and likely to be critical particularly in the years ahead and there is the need for pragmatic activities and solutions to empower the youth to tackle challenges facing them.
Mr Alosibah Akare Azam, the Regional Population Officer said youth unemployment continued to be considered a national security threat and blamed Ghana’s educational system for contributing to deepening the phenomenon.
He said the educational system in Ghana was structured to equip graduates with more theoretical knowledge than practical which made it difficult for the youth to meet the market demand.
The Regional Population Officer, therefore, advocated for the review of the educational system to ensure that it tailored at empowering Ghanaian students with practical knowledge and entrepreneurship skills to ensure that they were ready for the job market when they completed school.
“You will see a mechanical engineering graduate who cannot fix a knot but in this contemporary era, organizations will not want to spend much time and resources to train employees, so our educational system needs a change,” he stressed.
Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Regional Minister in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Mahamadu Assibi Azonko, the Regional Coordinating Director, said regulatory youth policy and an enabling environment were necessary to support the youth to put their immense talents into maximum use.
He said, government in the last five years had implemented various policies and programmes such as planting for food and jobs, planting of one million trees, and community integrated mining programmes among others in a bid to create decent employment for the youth, improve their living standards and empower them for sustainable development.
“While government works at supporting the development and inclusion of young people in national activities, it is important to call them to prepare and avail themselves of the opportunities. They need to acquire critical skills and knowledge that will make them relevant in the job market and also suitable values such as discipline, hard work, and humility,” he added.