Today, 12th August 2019 marks International Youth Day with the theme ‘Transforming Education’. The Greater Accra Youth Network congratulates the youth of Ghana for their diverse contributions towards a transforming education in Ghana.
The Network congratulates Government for various initiatives being taken to make education more accessible to all Ghanaian youth as well as improve the quality of education in the country. We acknowledge governments efforts such as the Free Senior High School policy, the double track, the curriculum change and other measures that are all geared towards improving the quality of education.
We have noted however that the youth are not deliberately and meaningfully consulted and engaged in the formulation and implementation of these policies. In order to assess the meaningfulness and success of these educational policies, we need to consider how youth voice and engagement (as students, citizens, leaders and partners) are taken up in these initiatives.
We the Youth are faced with various forms marginalization and are normally not engaged to contribute to social justice and democratic changes. Education is normally reserved for experts and we the primary beneficiaries are hardly involved. The Greater Accra Youth Network, therefore, call on Government and all stakeholder not to underestimate the contribution of the youth to creating the education we want as a Nation. We call on the government to expand youths’ involvement in educational reform to ensure that we are part of decisions which affect our lives.
We are certain that a partnership between the education stakeholder such as the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service among other and the youth will strengthen will strengthen accountability measure put in place to ensure an improved quality of education. Youth groups and network like the Greater Accra Youth Network are ready to be engaged to contribute to an effective education system in Ghana that will give students and the Ghanaian Youth a transformational experience.
We call on government and all stakeholders including the youth to work to ensure that Ghana’s education system gives transforms us into problem solvers to bring about the socio-economic development Ghana desperately needs.
We witness how the education system affects the lifelong development of youth. And we recognize how crucial it is for youth to be fully engaged, not only in the process of being educated but also in processes of educational delivery and policy/program development. Our voices and engagement are irrevocable social justice and human rights issues within our current political, social and economic contexts. To address these issues effectively the government, need the youth to be positioned as ‘knowers’ and ‘actors’ who have the right to participate as students, citizens and partners in educational policies, practices and reforms. We as youth, also recognize our participation in education reform as a justice issue. Our experience shows that, contrary to common-sense notions that youth are ‘apathetic’ and ‘disengaged,’ when given the opportunity to collaborate as partners and leaders, we will show clearly, we are as knowers and actors. Youth explicitly identify our motivations for participating in action research and change initiatives. Our desires are grounded in beliefs of a better education system for themselves, our family’s siblings, their children, and peers who also face multiple forms of disenfranchisement.
Youth who experience ageism, violence, homelessness, poverty, sexual exploitation, addictions, disruptive family contexts, mental health issues and other life challenges, are often aware that they, and their needs and strengths as learners, do not ‘fit’ in mainstream education systems. Typically, however, we the youth who experience marginalization do feel there are avenues to have our voices heard, to tell their story, or become agents of educational change. We are often keenly aware that we are not safe to fully disclose their complex lifeworld’s because their lives do not fit dominant societal and educational norms and expectations. Engaging we the youth as educational changemakers through a social justice lens requires the education system to embrace inclusion in all its complexity. It means, as a starting point, attending to the complex and interrelated processes of the need for youth to have adequate income, shelter, equity, human rights, access, ability to participate, valued contribution, belonging, and empowerment to contribute to the national education transformation agenda.
God bless our homeland Ghana