The Greater Accra Youth Network, has in a statement to mark the International Youth Day, called for inclusion of the young people in the education policy decision-making and implementation processes. “We acknowledge government’s 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,” it said. “We have noted, however, that the youth are not deliberately and meaningfully consulted and engaged in the formulation and implementation of these policies.” Transforming Education” was the theme chosen for this year’s celebration. The statement signed by Mr. Godson Charnor, the Research Lead of the Network, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, congratulated the youth for their diverse contributions towards transforming education in the country. It also applauded the Government for various initiatives taken to make education more accessible to all Ghanaian youth as well as improve the quality of education.
The statement said in order to assess the meaningfulness and success of these educational policies, there was the need to consider how youth voice and engagement (as students, citizens, leaders and partners) were taken up in these initiatives. “We the youth are faced with various forms of 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.” It asked that the contribution that young people could make towards creating the “education we want as a nation” should not be underestimated. “We call on the government to expand youths’ involvement in educational reform to ensure that we are part of decisions which affect our lives”. It said it had no doubt that a partnership between the education stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service and the youth would strengthen accountability measures put in place to ensure an improved quality of education.
It expressed the readiness of youth groups to be engaged to contribute to an effective education system in Ghana that would 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 educational system transforms us into problem solvers to bring about the socio-economic development Ghana desperately needs,” the statement said. “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,” the statement said. “Our voices and engagement are irrevocable social justice and human rights issues within our current political, social and economic contexts.”
“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 knowers and actors,” it said. The statement said, the “youth explicitly identify their motivations” for participating in action research and change initiatives. “Our desires are grounded in beliefs of a better education system for themselves, our families, siblings, their children, and peers who also face multiple forms of disenfranchisement.”
It noted that the young people, who experienced ageism, violence, homelessness, poverty, sexual exploitation, addictions, disruptive family contexts, mental health issues and other life challenges, were often aware that they, and their needs and strengths as learners, did not ‘fit’ in mainstream education systems. Those marginalized did feel there were avenues to have their voices heard, to tell their story, or become agents of educational change. The statement said they were often keenly aware that they were not safe to fully disclose their complex life worlds because their lives did not fit dominant societal and educational norms and expectations. It said engaging the youth as educational change-makers through a social justice lens required the education system to embrace inclusion in all its complexity.
This meant, attending to the complex and interrelated processes of the needs of 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.