I have come to understand that in life, you must always try to do what you need to do and do it well because today will determine your future and of course your past will always be waiting for you in the future.
To fully understand our theme (The Role of Students in Society and National Development) we must first define the key terms.
'Student', according to Wikipedia is primarily a person enrolled in a school and is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing profession(s) and achieving mastery.
'Development' is an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation. Society for International Development defines development as a process that creates growth, progress, positive change of physical, economic, environmental, social and demographic component. From this definition, we can therefore deduce that development is an improvement in economic and social conditions.
New Brunswick Canada defines Social/Societal Development as relating to improving the well-being of the individual in society so they can reach their full potential. Hence, the success of society is linked to the well-being of each and every citizen.
John Vaizey defines National development as the total effect of all citizens, forces and addition to stock of physical, human resources, knowledge and skills.
Now let me emphasize that our forefathers fought a good fight (to some extent) and in return, we will have to mention and raise the bar. If I must willingly leave my country for another, then I must have a better reason than to seek greener pastures. If this country of ours would be developed, it must begin with us. We must stay here, serve her and pay our due to her.
The next area to consider is the fact that the development of our nation requires every one of us to put our hands to the wheel. The Youth/Students have key role to play. If the strengths and potentials of students/Youth are directed to constructive purposes, the whole country will be on the pathway to success (as far as development is concerned).
For we the student, we think big, hope for the best and envision a better tomorrow. Students have the ability to lead their fellow students in the right direction. The vision of our country lies in the hands of we the students.
Another important factor worth considering is our ability to champion the courage to do things right and pray for wisdom to understand and unravel challenges with possible remedies. There is the need for students to help in building our society and the nation at large by paying attention to our environment, there is the need to be conscious in every field including politics. If students do not participate in all the fields of national development, then, the unpleasant result is obvious: imbalanced development. The center will not be able to hold - just like a colony of amphibians and insects.
The theme made me read through the constitution of Ghana on the duties of a citizen and aspects which caught my attention include;
- To promote the prestige and good name of Ghana and respect the symbols of the nation e.g the Ghana flag.
- To foster national unity and live-in harmony with others. (What do we see today? ... discrimination, stereotyping, and stigmatization - just to mention a few. In this regard, the You is much to blame.
- To protect and preserve public property and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property. With this, Ghana still has much work to do.
- To contribute to the well-being of the community where a citizen lives.
- To protect and safeguard the environment.
As students, what are we doing to make sure that we exercise the constitution in Spirit and in Letter? By so doing, the Solemn declaration shall be at work because the framers of this Constitution had a good reason for bringing it first. In unity, with our commitment to the nation, then our country will live with hope. Most especially with our pledge; 'I promise on my honor to be faithful and loyal to Ghana my motherland'. As a student, ask yourself, " Have I been loyal to Ghana my motherland?" You know your inner self. With your current attitude, is this the best way to pay your loyalty to the country.
The fact is this, for our country to develop fully in Education, Health, Agriculture and other key sectors of the economy, we need to unleash our potentials because the future is now.
It is about time we capitalized on what we are being taught and most importantly, find ways to internalize them in our daily lives. Let us do the 'impossible'. Yes, people may view us as being wayward, even when we are innovating. Such reactions should not break us so long as our intentions are good. Develop thick skin and forever ahead even when you receive discouragement instead of praises.
There is the need not to sit aloof to current happenings, there is the need for us as students to speak against profane communications on our media for it won’t help the nation in development. Take for instance the current happenings in Nigeria. I pray that the country does not go to civil war. For if they do, not even students would be spared. As such, we must add our voices (cautiously) to national issues as we play our best part. We must even be proactive with issues in order to help solve challenges and not be part of the problem(s) rather. When you say a prayer, say one for Nigeria since no country is an island. You know there could be Ghanaians in Nigeria who are directly affected. As Youth, how can our voices be heard? Remember that, we cannot offer what we do not have. Therefore, we have to equip ourselves with enough knowledge in order to speak and continue to issues of national & global interest.
Now is the time to speak out and that is why the Youth for Education exist. Now is the time to dispute all the negative perceptions people throw at us and build what we are capable of. I remember a time in my life when I was being referred to as “a good for nothing being”, but I did not accept that and I worked hard with prayers and this is how far the Lord has brought me. I remember a time in my life when I was told, I was taken from nowhere, yes there was pain and sorrow when I heard that but I refused to make that have control over me and this is how far the Lord has been good to me towards my goal. SO, CAN YOU.
In ending my remarks, let me leave you with the words of Less Brown which I hope will be well with you; he said, “know that it is you who will allow you to get to where you want to go. NO ONE ELSE.
TOGETHER THE YOUTH FOR EDUCATION BELIEVES WE HAVE A DREAM…