A Youth Policy Dialogue was organised on January 18, 2017 at the British Council. The dialogue was organised by the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana), the Voices of Youth Coalition and the Commonwealth Foundation. The theme for the dialogue was “Improving youth participation in public policy decision-making”.
The dialogue aimed at deepening multi-stakeholder engagement on Ghana’s youth policy, with the anticipation that the final version of the reviewed National Youth Policy in 2018 will reflect some of the insights shared during the Dialogue. The dialogue attracted over 250 participants from second-cycle and tertiary institutions, civil society organisations, academia and state agencies. In attendance were Nene Atsure Benta III, Board Chair, YES-Ghana; Mr. Bright Acheampong, Deputy Director, National Youth Authority; Mr. Prosper Hoetu, Executive Director, Youth Network on Human Rights and Democracy; Mr Mawuli Dake, Co-Founder, Moremi Initiative; Mr Kordzo Sedegah of the UNDP. Also in attendance were representatives from institutions such as Youth Employment Agency, National Board for Small Scale Industries, National Vocational Training Institute, West Africa Civil Society Institute, University of Development Studies, Africa Development Bank and West Africa Senior High School.
The dialogue was preceded with a live studio discussion on the state of the Ghanaian youth and the National Youth Policy on 3FM. Discussants on the show were Mrs Shamima Muslim Alhassan; Mr. Prosper Hoetu, Executive Director, Youth Network on Human Rights and Democracy; Mr. Emmanuel Edudzie, Executive Director, Youth Empowerment Synergy; Prof. William Baah-Boateng, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Ghana and Prof. Ransford Gyampo, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Ghana.
The dialogue began with an overview of the People’s National Youth Policy by the Executive Director YES-Ghana, Emmanuel Edudzie. Mr Edudzie in his remarks stated that young people form a major cohort in the global population. He challenged old notions on young people and called for a new consideration of young people as Ghana’s greatest asset. Mr Edudzie in his submission presented a background of the People’s National Youth Policy, the work of the Voices of Youth Coalition. He pointed the document to be the contribution of young people to the soon to be revised National Youth Policy (2010).
A panel discussion set the dialogue in motion. The discussion was moderated by Shamima Muslim Alhassan; with Prof. William Baah-Boateng, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Ghana; Prof. Ransford Gyampo, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Ghana; Dr Nana Akua Anyidoho, Senior Research Fellow, ISSER, UG and Mrs Theodora Williams Anti, Programmes Manager, FOSDA as panellists.
Prof.Baah-Boateng in his submission critiqued the existing educational system. He called for a more holistic consideration of education from the basic level to the highest level as well as the link between education and the job markets. He argues for an education system that allows students to think critically and become problem solvers.
Mrs Anti shared her insights from her engagement with young people from a civil society point of view. She opined that when young people do not participate in policy that involves them, such policies would not work. She also bemoaned the absence of a unified front among young people as another factor that affects the implementation of youth-related policies.
“An empowered and equipped youth is an asset to national development” was a view shared by Prof. Ransford Gyampo. He further urged the youth to take the chance to participate, as they will not be handed the chance to. He further urged to build a unified front, free of political colourations, as he argued that being segregated based on political lines weakens the voice of the youth.
Dr Nana Akua Anyidoho was of the view that Ghana has a bigger crisis on determining what education in the country should be. She stated that university education should teach individuals to think, develop character traits and skills. She also called for a dialogue between linking education to policies.
Mr Bright Acheampong, Deputy Director, Programmes of the National Youth Authority (NYA) who was the representative of the Minster of Youth and Sports, applauded YES-Ghana and the Voices of Youth Coalition for taken the initiative to prepare the People’s National Youth Policy and organising the Youth Policy Dialogue. Mr Acheampong announced that the 2018 priority of the NYA is to review and rewrite the National Youth Policy (2010). He further stated that “we need a youth policy that captures the agitated desire of Ghana’s youth to see leadership leverage political will to solve the challenges of our time”. The People’s National Youth Policy was officially unveiled and presented to the Mr Acheampong by the Voices of Youth Coalition, as their contribution to the reviewed National Youth Policy.
In his closing remarks, Nene Atsure Benta III charged the youth to have their own mission and vision on a personal level. On a broader level, he encouraged the youth to develop interest in public policy decision-making in their own interest.
The Youth Policy Dialogue is an activity under the ‘Improving Youth Participation in Public Policy Decision-Making’ project, an initiative of the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana), supported by the Commonwealth Foundation.