IS OUR NATIONAL YOUTH AUTHORITY (NYA) UP TO THE TASK?The National Youth Authority (NYA) formally National Youth Council (NYC) was established to serve as the umbrella institution of the state responsible for youth development. The promulgation of (NRCD) 241 of 1974 led to the establishment of the National Youth Council after stakeholders' consultations with government. The objectives for the establishment of the council are as follow:
(1) The object of the Council is to develop a strong and disciplined youth imbued with a spirit of nationalism and a sense of public service and morality.
(2) In furtherance of the object mentioned in subsection (1) of this section the Council shall be charged with the responsibility for the formulation of such policies and programmes as will promote in the youth;
(a) a sense of self-reliance, leadership, discipline and civic responsibility;
(b) a sense of friendship and co-operation through exchange of ideas with youth organisations in other countries in Africa and the world.
At a stakeholders forum in Takoradi in July, 2012 the Director of programmes of the NYA, Mr. Stephen Mensah-Etsibah said '' the vision of the authority is to become a unique public sector youth development service organization, responsive to the empowerment needs of the Ghanaian youth and ensuring their access to national development investment opportunities. We exist to provide the relevant and conducive environment that defines and supports the implementation of effective frontline youth empowerment practices, focusing on young people's participation in socio-economic and political development whilst facilitating private and third sector provider investments in youth empowerment'
It was an amazing revelation of what the youth authority exist to do but are they up to the task? After several years of its establishment the Authority has not been able to perform its mandate as requested by law. The authority has failed to integrate young people at the grass root into decision making on policies that affect them. Part of the problems young people are facing in this country currently is as results of the absence of strong state institutions to manage them. The National Youth Authority is too weak to manage the affairs of the youth and if something is not urgently done then our youth are doomed. We are in 2013 now but the Youth Authority has no office in some districts and for areas where they exist, it is difficult accessing them.
To successfully achieve their task, the authority developed a national youth policy and was launched in 1999.The policy contained the framework of which peculiar issues affecting the youth must be addressed. Unfortunately this policy couldn't materialize so a review was done and was launched in 2010 by our current president, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama when he was then the vice president. After the launching can somebody tell the youth what has been done so far?
The Executive Director of Strategic Youth Network, Mr. Ezekial Chebeze couldn't hide his frustration on this issue when he wrote in his article 'Since the launch of the National Youth Policy in August 2010, the NYC has woefully failed to produce a pragmatic dissemination plan for the policy to the Ghanaian youth. Worse still, the policy till date comes with no action plan. What is the relevance of the policy without an action plan? Who is responsible to produce and release the action plan - or it has been hijacked? Did government virtually launch the policy just to achieve some political expediency? Is the NYC and for that matter the Ministry of Youth and Sports failing the better agenda for the youth outlined by Professor Fiifi Atta Mills'
There are several Ghanaians who are asking the same question since the challenges of the youth keep increasing. Others are still struggling to come to terms with the mandate of the authority.
THE WAY FORWARD IN MY CANDID OPINION
Government must quickly prioritize the action plan for the youth policy on its agenda so that the policy is implemented.
The minister of Youth and Sports, Hon Elvis Afriyie Ankrah at a forum in February this year said government will complete the implementation plan on the policy by the end of the year to ensure systematic implementation of the document. In addition the Minister is reported to have said parliament will soon revise the youth law to make it relevant to current situation young people find themselves in.
I hope this will not be one of the lip services we are always promised from our leaders. The Hon Minister must walk the talk to ensure that we have an action plan to implement the policy.
The content of the policy must be communicated well to youth advocates so that they do advocacy on specific thematic areas.
Copies of the Youth policy must be accessible to the youth so that they will appreciate the content and participate in its implementation.
Government should bring all other state institution responsible for youth empowerment under the Youth Authority. Why do we have a separate offices for Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneur Development Agency (GYEEDA), Local Enterprises and skills Development Programme( LESDEP), Youth Enterprises and Skills Development Programme (YESDEP), Graduate Business Support Scheme (GEBSS) among others when we say they are schemes to support the youth? It is very disturbing that these schemes are separated from the youth authority just for political reasons and interestly these schemes are getting office facilities in areas where the NYA has no office. The first year GYEEDA was introduced, it had offices in almost all the districts and people were employed to serve as coordinators so why can't we put the same zeal in strengthening the Youth Authority?
Government must increase its budget allocation to the authority since this has been a major constrain since its inception. It is an open secret that government's commitment to the authority in terms of funding is not the best. This has crippled the authority and as a result its existence is not felt.
Government must as a matter of urgency direct all Districts and Municipal Assemblies that do not have NYA office to create space for the authority and equip them with professionals who understand issues relating to youth development.
ALI TANTI ROBERT
YOUTH ALLIANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT