President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged young people to be prepared at all times to confront unexpected challenges they face and to remain determined to build a future for themselves.
He said this is particularly important because it is not enough just to rely on their country’s wealth. Rather, they must learn to use the skills they have acquired to help build a better future for themselves.
According to President Akufo-Addo, not only is the 21st century competitive but it hinges on science and technology. It is therefore imperative, he said, that Ghana educates and equips her young people with the skills they need to compete globally.
To this end, his government has ensured that education in the public sector is free from kindergarten to senior high school.
The President gave this advice yesterday as he delivered an address at the inaugural Intergenerational Dialogue at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra.
The Accra meeting is the first of 100 intergenerational dialogues to be held in 100 cities across the world.
The aim is to establish a platform for young people to interact with leaders, reach a consensus on the best approach for developing their respective countries, bring the views of the youth to bear on developmental issues, and help create a better, prosperous future for all.
President Akufo-Addo said investment in education is a first-order priority for his government. “We have ensured that a third of our nation’s budget is dedicated to educating our young people,” he said.
He said a new standards-based curriculum which gives priority to mathematics, science and creativity is being rolled out from kindergarten to class 6.
This, he said, coupled with the construction of 21 state-of-the-art technical and vocational educational centres across the country, shows that the government is “determined to ensure that the Ghanaian youth acquire technical skills that will put them at par with their peers anywhere in the world”.
He stressed that there is no way any country can achieve sustainable development without involving its young people.
Buttressing his point, the President referred to an argument by the former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon: “When young people are given decent jobs, political weight, negotiating muscle and real influence in the world, they will construct a brighter future.”
President Nana Akufo-Addo said for young people’s future to be well shaped, their welfare and well-being must be taken into account.
“It is important that we take these ideas forward to harness the value of the youthful population, with human rights, gender equality, development of human capital and dignity as the centre of all our investments,” he said.
Using the Arab Springs in Tunisia and Egypt as an example, President Akufo-Addo said these events of 2011 showed how hungry the youth are for opportunities.
“This young, hungry generation with a global perspective on opportunities expect their leaders to foster peace and help deliver social and economic transformation which will have a meaningful impact on their lives,” he said.
He noted that Sustainable Development Goal 16 recognises that there cannot be sustainable development without peace, and stressed that peace is one of the critical ingredients needed to make Africa and the world successful.
He urged African leaders to give top priority to considerations that will ensure sustainable development in their respective countries.
“I do not talk about the peace of the graveyard. I am talking about taking advantage of the dynamism and exuberance of our youthful population to build an orderly and prosperous society that promotes peace,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“I am talking about building the free societies that promote the spirit of competition.”