62nd Annual New Year School and Conference opens

The 62nd Annual New Year School and Conference opened in Accra on Monday on the theme: “Harnessing the Power of the Youth for Accelerated Development”.

The School is a residential programme organised by the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education (ICDE) of the University of Ghana, which draws people from all walks of life together to deliberate on vital issues of national and international concern.

The five-day school would seek effective strategies that would enhance opportunities for skills development through lifelong learning and further discuss strategies for job creation in agriculture to make it more attractive for the youth who would want to return to the land.

Ms Akua Sena Dansua, Outgoing Minister of Youth and Sports addressing the opening session, called on the participants to dispassionately discuss youth entrepreneurship in Ghana and come out with useful suggestions to make the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) more sustainable.

“Posterity will not forgive us if we fail to help our young people create and control their own jobs and wealth,” she said.

She said NYEP, instituted to cushion the huge unemployment among the youth in the country, was being re-organised to make it more viable and responsive to the needs of unemployed youth.

The Sector Minister explained that the programme had made additional modules for dressmaking and hair dressing, basket-making, film making, sheanut processing and youth in prisons.

The four previous modules were Traffic Wardens, Youth-in-Agriculture, Health Extension and the Community Education Teaching Assistants.

Ms Dansua said they were to equip the youth with the requisite knowledge and skills to enable them to establish their own businesses after exiting from the programme and further reducing the overdependence on government support.

She noted that the concerns of the youth continued to engage both national and international attention now than ever, as they were seen as an important human resource base with the potential to contribute significantly to national development.

Ms Dansua said government also recognised that without the requisite investment in the youth, who formed the largest cohort of young people, there could not be any meaningful development and “this is why the National Youth Policy comes out with action plans to harness the potential of the youth for development.”

Ms Dansua commended organisers of the school for sustaining the programme for the past six decades, saying this year’s theme was also very appropriate for Ghana’s development agenda in response to the declaration of 2011 by President John Evans Atta Mills as an “Action Year”.

She said the slow socio-economic growth and absence of job opportunities had led to high levels of unemployment among school leavers including graduates and urged institutions of higher learning in the country, to design programmes in youth studies for those, who had leadership potentials, to actualise them for national development.

Ms Dansua blamed the increase in graduate unemployment and ‘brain drain’ to Ghana’s educational system and urged the participants to come out with workable and strategic proposals to solve the problem and prevent it from escalating.

Mr Benjamin Tettey Dabrah, Managing Director of Barclays Bank of Ghana, delivering the keynote address, called for a shift from making youth development solely for them but empower young people to think for themselves and solve their own problems.

“Let us look beyond the fact that young people think differently from the elderly and give them a chance,” he said.

Mr Dabrah said young people in Ghana had enormous potential that could be harnessed for promoting economic development in the country.

He called on government and policy makers to focus policy initiatives and resources on improving the leadership role of Ghanaian youth, saying the success of such interventions depended on the participation of young people in all aspects of the public policy process from the crafting of economic policies to their implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

“In particular, the youth need to be part of the current development agenda in terms of poverty-reduction strategies and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he added.

Professor Kwesi Yankah, Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana, explained that over the past 62 years, the New Year School had been a key instrument through, which the University had discharged its social responsibilities and directly demonstrated its commitment to community life, extension work and development.

He said through the ICDE, until recently called the Institute of Adult Education, the University had sought to diversify and indeed democratise access to intellectual and infrastructural resources held in trust for the people of Ghana.

Prof. Yankah said through its 12 regional centres in the country, and rejuvenated distance learning programmes, the university had also sought to eliminate barriers between academia defying age, time and circumstances.

He said the University authorities would soon roll-out the next phase of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) infrastructural enrichment project in all the regions to help to eliminate the gap of acquiring a University degree from any part of the country.

Prof. Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, Director ICDE, said the School had made significant contributions to the socio-economic, cultural and political development of the country.

He said a significant outcome of the 2010 School was the setting up of the Constitutional Review Commission by Government to solicit views of Ghanaians on appropriate revisions to the 1992 Constitution of Ghana to better serve the needs of Ghanaians.

Source: GNA

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