18.08.2004 General News

Ghana to host global conference of Youth Service

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Accra, Aug. 18, GNA - More than 100 delegates from at least 60 countries would be attending the seventh Global Conference of the International Association for National Youth Service (IANYS) scheduled for Accra from August 23 to August 27, 2004.

Delegates to the conference are from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Mr Boniface Gambila, Director of the National Service Scheme, who announced the conference at a press briefing in Accra, said Ghana was chosen as the host country because of its democratic dispensation had been acclaimed internationally as meeting standards.

He said another reason was that the Ghana National Service Scheme had operated successfully for 30 years and it was, therefore, regarded as unique and well organised.

The conference is expected to review and deliberate regional reports that would be presented as well examine new perspectives on National Youth Service, the environment, water and sanitation, health and HIV/AIDS.

Each of the more than 100 delegates is expected to spend about 1,000 dollars, and aside the economic benefits, the conference would also examine conflict resolution and peace building within the context of existing conflicts in the West African Sub-Region.

Mr Gambila lauded the role of the National Service Persons in national development since the inception of the Scheme in 1973, and said 367, 618 personnel had served.

The personnel were engaged in the education service as teachers, and others were involved in the delivery of social services, supported the development of infrastructure such the building of health centres, transit quarters, school blocks and toilets and sinking of boreholes and hand-dug wells.

Other projects undertaken under the Scheme are community reforestation, the provision of biogas plants and silos; construction of markets and community school libraries. They are also in small-scale industries and agriculture.

Mr Gambila said 70 per cent of the National Service Personnel are deployed to teach annually.

He announced that about 14,000, people who had just completed University and tertiary education would be posted to do their national service this year, adding that the Scheme would from next September begin a voluntary national service programme with an initial target of 5,000 people.

Mr Gambila, who is also the current Executive Director of the IANYS, whose two-year term of office ends this year, said the National Service Scheme was in alliance with the United Nations to build voluntarism in Ghana, and added that the Peace Corp had drawn an elaborate programme to support its development.

A principal objective of the programme is largely to change negative attitudes towards voluntary national service of youth, apart from the mandatory one for post tertiary education graduates. Mr Gambila said the intention is to reduce the number of youth on the streets, and asked the District Assemblies to identify the volunteers, and offer them the needed assistance.

The National Service Director said the NSS was screening about 1,000 people who had volunteered to train as nurses to move to areas with clinics but no nurses, and said the support of volunteer national service personnel would save the nation 10 billion cedis in the newly created 28 districts.

He said the Volunteer programme is designed in such a way that that Ministry of Local Government Volunteer Service would employ the volunteer to reduce the number of youth on the street.

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