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23.08.2004 General News

Government encourages volunteerism

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Accra, Aug. 23, GNA- President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday affirmed Government's commitment to encourage youth services, especially voluntary programmes, for the benefit of the nation.

"For this reason, 16 billion cedis, equivalent to almost 1.8 million US dollars was made available in the last budget, allowing the volunteer service to extend [its activities] from the three Northern Regions to the Volta, Central and Western Regions," President Kufuor said, adding, " Government's commitment is to cover all the regions as soon as possible."

President Kufuor said this in a speech read on his behalf by Mrs Cecilia Bannerman, Minister of Mines at the opening of the Seventh Global Conference of the International Association of for National Youth Service (IANYS), underway in Accra.

The five-day conference would be discussing the "Impact of the National Youth Service on recipients" on Education, Health, the Youth and the Nation at large.

Delegates to the conference were from Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, India, Canada, Belgium, Argentina, Israel and New Zealand. The conference was to fulfil IANYS' obligations and privileges and to reinforce global co-operation.

The conference would inspire and motivate countries on the African continent to join the IANYS, and promote healthier co-operation.

President Kufuor said Government would initiate a well co-ordinated voluntary service programme to attract committed and public-spirited youth who would offer their services not to their country alone, but would go out as the nation's ambassadors to offer practical services to needy communities elsewhere.

The President acknowledged the vital role of National Youth Service and volunteerism programmes, and benefits the nation had enjoyed from the activities of the work of local and international volunteers. The contributions included the construction of schools, clinics, markets, roads, and drainage.

Other contributions included teaching, awareness programmes in health education, science and technology, which had promoted economic and social improvement in lives of the people, as well as peace and unity.

Education, Youth and Sports Minister, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu said the Ghana National Service Scheme established about 31 years ago had reflected the national aspiration of opening up the hinterland and rural communities in line with the national poverty reduction programmes. Mr Baah-Wiredu said the shortage of quality manpower in the private sector for which Government was promoting initiatives, had now patronized the services of the Scheme to the extent that the Secretariat was unable to meet the demand.

More than 95 per cent of the corporate sector respondents to studies, had used national service personnel, and of the number, 90 per cent were satisfied with the performance of the personnel in terms of job output and input, discipline at the workplace and ability to learn fast, Mr Baah-Wiredu said.

He stated that the Education Ministry was prepared to resource the Service Scheme to upgrade the skills of personnel to serve the private sector.

Mr Boniface Gambila, National Service Director said the Scheme had since 1973, deployed 400,000 personnel on various projects, and in 2002/2003 saved approximately 90 billon cedis.

Mr Gambila said unless the scheme was used to get the youth to appreciate the problems facing the country, the part they were expected to play in finding solutions to the country's problems would not be achieved.

Mr Gambila, who is also the current Global Executive Director of the IAYNS, said it was necessary to ensure that National Service personnel knew the country well, stating that a major cause of the nation's problem was that people in responsible positions were not aware, or appreciate the appalling conditions in some parts of the country.

"They must care to know the conditions under which their underprivileged brothers and sisters are living," Mr Gambila said, and called on Government to ensure that reasonable minimum conditions were created to facilitate the efforts of the youth to know and serve their country better.

Honorary President of IANYS Donald Eberly, representing New Zealand, said the IANYS was providing help to people interested in developing National Youth Service programmes and was connecting public and private sector officials.

He said in the last two years the IANYS had given technical assistance to the creation of the Pakistan National Youth Service, a private sector initiative, which public support engaged 500 young men and women in service activities in needy areas.

Nana Prah Agyinsaim Essilfie VI, Member of the Council of State, who chaired the function, urged the youth to do their best in the service of the nation. 23 Aug. 04

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