ACCRA, Ghana, 12 August 2019 –International Youth Day (IYD) which has been observed annually on 12 August since 2000, is a global awareness day designated by the United Nations (UN), focussing on young people and their place in society.
Youth, as defined by the UN, are persons between the ages of 15 and 24. During IYD, concerts, workshops, cultural events, and meetings – involving national and local government officials, young people, youth-led or youth-focussed organisations, and other stakeholders – take place globally.
The purpose of these events is to both celebrate the qualities of young people, reflecting and embracing their unique realities and identities, whilst drawing attention to and addressing the challenges and barriers they may face in today’s world.
The theme for IYD 2019 is Transforming Education. Inclusive and accessible education is crucial to achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is committed to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development by 2030 worldwide, ensuring that no-one is left behind.
Education is a ‘development multiplier’, as it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate, or peaceful societies.
Education should lead to relevant and effective learning outcomes, with the content of school and university or college curricula being fit for purpose – not only for the fourth industrial revolution and the future of work, but also for the opportunities, and challenges, which rapidly changing social contexts bring.
Henry Ford believed education was a pillar of success
Ford Motor Company’s annual College Community Challenge, also known as the C3 programme, is an initiative focussed on the empowerment of youth through education.
Company founder Henry Ford believed that education was a pillar of success. But not just education for the sake of getting a degree. He once said: "A man's college and university degrees mean nothing to me until I see what he is able to do with them." Education was only really worth something if it could be applied in the real world – to empower people, uplift communities, and create a sustainable future for all.
Henry Ford also believed that a sustainable company goes hand-in-hand with a sustainable society; that businesses perform better when they pursue a greater purpose, not just profits. This value forms a key part of Ford Motor Company’s legacy, and vision for the future.
And so, in keeping with their founders’ vision, through initiatives like the C3 programme, Ford is committed to support the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of not only the communities and countries in which they operate, but society at large.
Ford and Enactus partner on C3 programme
“Ford’s C3 programme encourages innovation, empowers people, promotes social mobility, and supports communities,” says Neale Hill, Managing Director, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Enactus was the perfect partner for us on this ongoing journey, as its mission is so closely aligned to our own.”
Enactus is an international community of student, academic, and business leaders who use entrepreneurial action to create a better world. Every year, Enactus teams from three universities in Ghana are selected to participate in the C3 programme. Each team receives US$3,000 from the Ford Fund, the company’s philanthropic arm, to implement their projects over the course of 12 months.
Enactus projects in Ghana 2018
During Cycle 5 of Ford’s C3 programme in Ghana, which covered the period 2018 / 2019, the Enactus team from the University of Mines and Technology developed a bio-ethanol gel fuel production facility, to provide a sustainable market for local alcohol distillers. At the University of Ghana, the team built an ultra-modern cooking stove for the preparation of palm oil, to reduce pollution and health-related problems faced by members of the community. And the team from the University for Developmental Studies used an innovative process to treat and transform dry grasses into palatable feed for livestock, to tackle the scarcity of feed during the dry periods.
Enactus projects in Ghana 2019
During Cycle 6 of Ford’s C3 programme in Ghana, which covers the period 2019 / 2020, the Enactus team from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology will be implementing the Reccoplast Water and Sanitation Project, which involves recycling plastic waste into brick pavers, to tackle the issue of plastic pollution in the environment. At the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, the team will be launching the Falefale Project, aimed at eradicating the unhygienic and unsafe practice of open defecation in communities which lack access to sanitation facilities.
And finally, the team from the University of Mines and Technology will be embarking on the Maize Preservation Project, building a system to preserve the commodity price of maize by keeping out moisture, controlling enzymatic activity, and protecting it against fungal growth.
“These young people are the agents of change, and the leaders of the future, who set the example for others to follow,” says Hill. “It really is wonderful seeing out-of-the-box thinkers being such a powerful force for good in the world. And truly inspiring to see the positive impact they have made, and will continue to make on the lives of others in years to come.”
“While financial support is often needed to get philanthropic initiatives off the ground, not all giving efforts have to involve money,” he concludes. “Young people need to be taught that simply by giving of themselves – their time, resources, and knowledge – each and every one of us has the power to impact someone’s life and make the world a better place. While individual efforts may be relatively minor, in combination with the efforts of others, the collective impact can be profound.”