Education and Youth Empowerment
Despite the gains been made in the Education Sector especially in access for children and the youth than it used to be a decade ago (Ghana Education Service, 2010). There is still high illiteracy rate which has been partly attributed to the low enrolment and retention rates in school, especially for girls (Ghana Statistical Service, 2010). Many children are out of school because of parental neglect, long distances of schools from dwellings, disabilities, cultural practices that discriminate against girls, low teacher/school ratio, etc. Other challenges depriving children of their right to education include inadequate classrooms to cater for the increasing enrolment at the basic level and the SHS level; inadequate teacher accommodation in deprived communities; violence against girls in schools; inadequate number of trained teachers (Ghana Education Service, 2010).
Again on youth empowerment, there is an emerging understanding worldwide to give the youth a direct role in shaping policies and programmes for local and national development. Young people have tremendous creativity and energy that can be tapped to promote development and help ensure that they achieve their fullest potential. On the other hand, they have proven to be a source of social tension and conflict when left disengaged and alienated from the conditions necessary for their development as productive citizens.
The youth of today are better educated but less employed than their parents. However, many of the youth have proven to be useful agents of change when given the chance. In spite of the huge potential of the youth, their participation in local governance processes faces a number of constraints. One key constraint is the issue of cultural barrier where on the basis of age and gender, the youth are excluded from participating in decision making processes at the local level. Youth who challenge these structures, albeit respectfully and responsibly are branded as disrespectful. This discourages potential youth leaders from engaging the local governance process.
In order to allow and empower the youth to gain economic autonomy, to acquire social and political responsibility and to share ownership of their region’s future, they have to be trained to acquire the requisite skills to become credible and influential contributors in decision-making processes. It is important to mention that the youth are largely inexperienced about the workings of the local government structure and need support to guide them to understand these structures. They also need to be well informed to make meaningful contributions to local governance.
SODIA would support in these areas by promoting access to quality public education for boys and girls which respects their rights and enhance capacity of young people to drive development priorities.