NEWS COMMENTARY CALLS ON THE YOUTH OF GHANA TO RISE ABOVE THE CHALLENGES AND DO THEIR BEST FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTRY AS WE MARK THIS YEAR’S INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY.
International youth day is observed globally to raise awareness on the cultural, employment, educational, health and legal issues surrounding the youth. This day also presents an opportunity for governments and youth related institutions and stakeholders to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. This year’s celebration focuses on “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human planetary Health”. This is a call by the United Nations on the youth to contribute to food production and preservation of the planet. The call is timely at a time when many of the world’s population are confronted with food shortages and climate change. It is directed at governments globally to assist their youth to be in positions to transform the food systems and preserve the young ones in their respective countries. Even though it is true that the youth must contribute to the socio-economic development of their communities and nations, they can only do so when they are equipped with knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive. Figures from the UN put the world’s youth population at 1.2 billion which accounts for 16 percent of the global population. This figure has the potential to transform the world positively or negatively depending on the availability of resources at their disposal.
Imagine 1.2 billion people without any form of skills to facilitate their contribution towards the development of the world. The frustration it definitely a recipe for disaster. A hungry man they say is an angry man. It is for this reason that governments must place great value on youth development. In Ghana and of course all over the world, one major challenge confronting the youth is unemployment. Although government has instituted interventions like the National Youth Employment Program, NABCO and Planting for Food and job, many youths are still struggling to find employment. Repeatedly, there are calls for the youth to be creative and innovative but the truth is many of them have the skills and are innovative but are confronted with financial constraints. Those who wish to go for loans are discouraged with high-interest rates, even if they succeed in securing the loans. They end up using the investment to service the loans. This situation has put many out of business. The already struggling youth in Ghana are also faced with high rent demanded by landlords and ladies. They demand two years advance payment from tenants. This is a pain in the neck of the Ghanaian youth including those who find themselves with some form of employment. Many of the youth go for loans almost every two or three years to pay their rent advance. Some of them do not even finish servicing them before the next advance is due. Although there is a law in Ghana that forbids advance payment for more than six months, there seem to be a total disregard for it. A greater percentage of the youth in Ghana also work in poor conditions and receive low salaries and wages. Some are thrown out of work with the least provocation by their employers. This is worrying and the authorities must strive to address it. Whilst acknowledging the hardship the youth go through in life, they must be encouraged to be creative and bold to take risks. The white colour jobs are becoming hard to find so instead of waiting to look for a desired job, it is better to accept those so called “unattractive” jobs that come their way, because half a loaf they say is better than none. Accepting such jobs does not only provide financial security but also broadens their competence level and exposes them to more and better opportunities. At this point the youth who are in gainful employment are reminded to be faithful to their employers and brighten the corner where they are. Attitudes such as lateness to work and pilfering at offices and places of work must be discouraged. Let us keep and maintain the can-do spirit and do our best for our beloved country Ghana, as we mark international youth day. We wish the youth of Ghana and elsewhere Happy International Youth Day.
By Augustine Kaku, a journalist