The Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana), in collaboration with the Voices of Youth Coalition has called for the active involvement of the youth in public policy. This call was made in Tamale on August 7, 2018, during the Youth Policy Dialogue. The two organizations with support from the Commonwealth Foundation launched the People’s National Youth Policy, as a documentation of the expectations of young people in line with upcoming review of the National Youth Policy, announced by the National Youth Authority in December 2017.
According to Ms. Obaa Akua Konadu, the Policy and Advocacy Manager at the Youth Empowerment Synergy, “the People’s National Youth Policy is the contribution of young people in Ghana towards the review of the existing National Youth Policy and an amplification of youth voices across Ghana on issues that are of prime importance to them. It is also to serve as a rallying point around which youth groups and youth-led institutions can converge and advocate on issues related to youth development in Ghana”
A moderated panel discussion followed Ms. Konadu’s presentation. The session was moderated by Zubaida Ismail, with a panel comprising Ms. Esther Boateng, Regional Programmes Manager, ActionAid Ghana; Alhassan Mohammed Awal, Executive Director, NORSAAC; Fouzia Tua Alhassan, Project Manager, Savana Signatures and Abukari Ayuba, Head of Programmes, Research and Advocacy, NNED.
According Ms. Boateng it is important for NGOs to situate their initiatives in the context of government policy. In her opinion, the current National Youth Policy captures all themes that affect young people, although its preparation did not have adequate youth participation. She quizzed why the country does not have a separate Ministry dedicated to youth affairs.
Mr Awal started by quizzing the kind of group he is to engage with. He enlisted some adjectives that have been placed on the youth as labels – not well informed, not well educated, leading riots and chaos, not able to lead, unemployed, aggressive and should be told what to do- but he expressed his disappointment in such descriptions given young people.
Ms. Fouzia Alhassan expressed her delight in having a National Youth Policy considering her status as a young person. She however advocated for a disaggregated approach in meeting the needs of the different groups captured in the generic definition of youth. She also called on the youth to be more involved in issues that affect them.
Mr Ayuba expressed hope for Ghana, based on the knowledge that the People’s National Youth Policy was developed by young people. He critiqued the policy proposal that appeals to policymakers to engage young people as this was not empowering in nature. He suggested that young people should claim the space to engage. Ms. Ismail shared her experience in volunteerism and how it assisted her in securing her current job with TV3 as a way to motivate the youth, in her last words.
In summary, the panellists charged the youth to build the capacities to take advantage of the opportunities available. Volunteerism was recommended for young people as a good way of engaging their energies and leverage to acquire new skills.
The following are some of the concerns and opinions by participants:
• Young people should demand very strongly for their voices to be heard
• The nineteen priority areas of the National Youth Policy covers sufficiently the needs of young people, however CSOs and the youth should push for its implementation.
• A student-centred educational policy is needed, devoid of any political coloration.
• A separate ministry for Youth Affairs should be advocated
• The definition of youth is not clear, as some people who describe themselves as ‘’youth at heart’ are found working in the youth space.
The Metropolitan Director of the National Youth Authority, Mr Abu Suleimana Iddrisu received the People’s National Youth Policy and commended the Youth Empowerment Synergy and the Voices of Youth Coalition for their effort in putting together a well-researched People’s National Youth Policy that reflect the needs of young people currently. He stressed the need for a review of the 2010 National Youth Policy, and also assured participants that the National Youth Authority is now in a position to better execute the mandate in supporting and monitoring youth development.
Mr. Eric Saforo, Training and Capacity Building Manager at YES-Ghana charged participants to create awareness of the National Youth Policy. He also expressed his expectation that the reviewed document will not remain on the shelves of policymakers, but will be implemented fully.