Ghana: Youth urged to challenge status quo.

By Ghanabusinessnews.com

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Rescue Mission International, a youth advocacy NGO, has urged the youth and all youth-led organisations to take up innovative and complementary training programmes to empower the youth to challenge the status quo for better transformation of the education sector.

According to the organisation, this would effectively contribute to the sustainable development of the country, for the benefit of both the current generation and those yet unborn.

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This was contained in a statement issued by Rescue Mission International signed by its Co-founder, Mr Abdul-Raheem Ibrahim Tuzee, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tamale.

It is in commemoration of this year’s International Youth Day, which is on the theme: “Transforming Education.”

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The International Youth Day, marked on August 12, every year, recognises the role of the youth in national development.

The statement said inclusive and accessible quality education was crucial to achieving sustainable development as it played a vital role in preventing conflicts.

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It, however, added that political instability, labour market challenges and limited space for political and civic participation have led to increasing isolation of youth and youth unemployment in society.

It, therefore, emphasised that “It is time we the youth took our destinies and those of generations unborn into our own hands and stop depending on politicians for opportunities.”

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The statement called for a collective effort from youth-led organisations, individual youths, together with various stakeholders and government, to concretely transform education for sustainable development and for the full inclusion of various social groups.

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Africa Must Prioritize Investing in Her Youth

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Africa has been blessed, not only with natural resources but also an abundance of youth, yet we fail to adequately invest in them. At least 60% of Africa’s young people are under the age of 30 but unemployment continues to rear its ugly head leaving frustrated youth so desperate that they are migrating in droves for better opportunities abroad despite the dangers of slavery and drowning in the Mediterranean sea.

Leaders should double down on efforts to create jobs, increase the quantity and quality of education spending and create opportunities at home by rooting out corruption, and investing in job-creating sectors, as echoed by the African Union and Nelson Mandela.

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We need to guide our youth through quality education and channel them in the right direction. Former South African president Nelson Mandela believed strongly in the power of young people and their role to harness positive change in Africa. We need to honour his legacy.

In recent years, the youth have been pushed to the edge as unemployment continues to escalate. Of Africa’s 600 million youth, aged between 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six has a steady paid job.

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For many decades, tackling extreme poverty has been neglected, but now is the time to make it a priority. Africa Countries need to come together and commit to policy reforms, while scaling up investment in youth and projects to deliver on the changes needed.

For us to tackle these challenges, All Africa countries must come together to make and implement processes, and create an equal partnership between all stakeholders. A true equal partnership between African and partner countries, are at the forefront, because shared benefits mean shared responsibilities.

CNBC Africa Copyright 2018

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Africa Must Prioritize Investing in Her Youths

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What do young people need to learn today to be prepared for tomorrow?

By Larry Berger

We cannot anticipate the challenges today’s children will confront as grownups, nor can we conceive of the solutions they will devise. Technology, the planet, and society are changing faster than ever before. But this doesn’t mean we should discard the old disciplines of reading, math, science and history for a shiny new curriculum of nanorobotics, holography, and multi-tasking.

Futuristic things that spark kids’ imaginations are useful, but the essence of a great education changes slowly. We may use new tools and topics to achieve it, but we still want our kids to:

  • learn how to learn
  • know the past
  • wield the power of math and science
  • experience and make art
  • become good citizens

Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

Since we cannot know exactly what young people will need to know to thrive, the most important thing may be that their education helps them learn how to learn, including:

How to pay attention: learning requires the ability to focus. The technology that saturates kids’ worlds today offers constant distractions. Students must learn to overcome this, to set it aside and pay attention, for extended periods, to things that are difficult.

How to question: curiosity is what sustains learning, and skepticism about “established truths” is the beginning of new knowledge. Schools should cultivate both, to help students to develop critical thinking skills.

How to learn from failure: students do better in school, and in life, when they realize that mistakes are opportunities for discovery and improvement, and that persistence can pay off. Research shows that this “growth mindset” can be taught.

These skills prepare students to continue learning throughout their lives. Our economy and society are changing fast — the jobs of the future mostly don’t exist yet — and so the people who are most likely to thrive are the ones who are prepared to continually adopt and grow.

Specific knowledge and skills are also part of the foundation for a lifetime of learning. The academic subjects included in a traditional African high school education are a good start. Within each of those subjects, and across them, there are essential elements:

Reading and writing: every student who graduates from an American high school should be able to “read like a detective and write like an investigative reporter.” That means they should be able to write a short essay expressing their perspective on something difficult they’ve read, using evidence from the text as the backbone of their argument. Research shows that this is the single most important skills for succeeding in college and other further academic studies.

Mathematical reasoning: for an increasing number of college majors and professions, it’s essential to acquire skills in specific areas of math. But, regardless of academic and career path, all of us — every American — should be able to engage in mathematical reasoning, so we can make good decisions about everything from credit cards to claims made by our political leaders. Every high school graduate should be able to engage in algebraic thinking and mathematical modeling to understand quantitative relationships and to generalize patterns.

Scientific knowledge and thinking: learning to “think like a scientist” is important for everyone, even those who eventually choose careers in other fields. The scientific method — systematic observation, measurement, and hypothesis formulation, testing, and modification — has applications across many areas of modern life, including business. And, given the public policy decisions that will need to be made in the 21st century, it’s especially important that all citizens have a baseline understanding of ecosystems and earth science.

Knowledge of the world and the past: our country’s civil and political life will depend on all citizens having a shared knowledge of world history. Students should be enabled to develop their own informed perspectives, including through reading key primary texts, from the Declaration of Independence to first-person accounts of what it has been like to live at various times and places. They should also learn how to share those perspectives with classmates and others in a civil and constructive way.

The Arts: every African should graduate from high school having read literature from Africa and the world. They should experience and make art and music in many forms. Every student should be encouraged to choose at least one art form that especially moves them and really learn about it — what are its traditions, who are its greats, what makes it beautiful?

A great education is a long and rewarding journey which never ends. High school is a key stage in that journey when students can acquire the foundations for success in later life. Let’s ensure that every African student can make the most of this opportunity.

This article was first published at Medium

10 Ways to Engage Youths in Peace Building.

By Solomon

Today, more than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict — a majority of which is under the age of 30.

These numbers alone justify the inclusion and consideration of youths in policymaking and planning. But in practice, the meaningful participation of young people in peace building has been hindered by discourses that overwhelmingly depict youths as victims or villains.

The inclusion of young people in peacebuilding processes is bound to facilitate sustainable peace in a society, by redirecting the energies of young people to the implementation of constructive peace projects. Incorporation and utilisation of youths in peacebuilding processes would facilitate their transformation from agents of violent conflict, to agents of peace in their societies.

This are the 10 ways to engage youths in peace building.

1. Create spaces for youths to express their opinions — and listen to them.

Rather than simply acknowledging them as victims or perpetrators of violence, it’s vital to engage youths as social actors with their own views and contributions.

“Youth voices in peace building are present everywhere, but sometimes not recognized,” Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, told Devex. “The creation of spaces for youth to express their opinion to decision-makers and broader society ensures that they have the opportunity to be heard.”

In practice, this can be done by encouraging both youth and adults — parents, teachers, nonprofit workers, or community and religious leaders — to support the formation of youth groups that offer young people a chance to formulate their opinions.

2. Enhance the peace-building knowledge and skills of young people.

Although most young peace builders create positive impact with minimal resources, it’s important to provide them with the tools they need to become more effective change-makers.

In concrete terms, this means giving them access to the teachers, facilitators, educational programs and networks that can hone their conflict resolution and leadership skills.

“Training opportunities can range from content-based topics such as conflict or gender to more practical-focused areas such as advocacy or project management,” Dylan Jones, project and gender officer at UNOY Peacebuilders underlined. “By facilitating youth connecting on individual and organizational levels, ideas, challenges and best practices can be organically shared.”

3. Build trust between youths and governments.

Youth mobilization in peace-building efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.

With few constructive avenues to influence local and national politics, young people tend to view governments as beset by corruption. Conversely, governments often fail to take into account the views of youths in policymaking, and may have different priorities for peace.

To close the gap, activities that promote the legitimization of youths and foster their representation in local and national policymaking processes are crucial, according to Piet Vroeg, child and education director at Cordaid. As such, joint workshops, community projects or platforms can all help bridge the divide between youths and government officials. It’s also important to encourage young people to learn about national or regional peace priorities while helping them work toward their own peace priorities.

“Now, after a couple of years, the youth councils have gained the trust of local government authorities, to the point that when it’s time to decide on the local budgets, these youth councils are being consulted to see if the budget make sense,” Saji Prelis, director for children and youth programs at Search for Common Ground, highlighted.

4. Promote intergenerational exchange.

Rather than working with youths in isolation, peace-building projects seeking the engagement of youths should also include parents and elders.

Youths are deeply influenced by the attitudes of their entourage. Yet adults might perceive youth-led initiatives as a threat to their own power and position. This points to the need for youth peace-building projects to be accompanied by dialogue and cooperation between young people, their relatives and community elders.

“Seek more inclusive means for young people to express themselves and participate in awareness-raising among the wider population,” Vroeg suggested.

Through partnerships with community groups and elder councils, youths can demonstrate the benefits of their peace actions. Such communication and collaboration channels also enable young people and adults to explore the common problems they face and to tackle them together, thus participating in the emergence of sustainable solutions.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created,” Flemming underlined.

5. Strengthen monitoring and evaluation.

While efficiencies can always be found, monitoring and evaluation activities need to be undertaken, improved and made routine across all peace-building initiatives capitalizing on youth engagement.

Suffering from a chronic lack of financial support, youth peace-building activities often have very limited ability to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their work — a situation that seriously impedes the visibility and sustainability of their initiatives.

But beyond increased financial support, innovative approaches to evaluate the impact of youth engagement in conflict resolution must be used — particularly those that build on qualitative evidence and participative approaches.

“Surveys, focus groups and interviews are considered as the gold standard of inquiry, but those are adult methods of articulating evidence and showcasing impact, which ultimately benefit only adults,” Pralis told Devex. “Instead, we should make evaluation conversational and youth-led, as this works for everybody.”

The evaluation process recently started by the Nepal Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding — a coalition of local youth groups and international organizations — is particularly illustrative. It allows young people to take an active role in determining evaluation design, data collection methods and information analyses.

6. Support youths who are positively contributing to their communities.

Finally, it’s crucial to avoid rewarding “bad behavior” by incentivizing young people who are positively contributing to their communities.

Current youth programming focuses much of its attention on young individuals who were troublemakers or soldiers. This effectively rewards youths for joining armed groups — or is at least perceived as doing so by local communities.

“In general, young people feel marginalized and their voices are not heard or trusted as credible. But when they commit violence, the international community rushes in,” Prelis noted. “We have to be more conscious, cautious and thoughtful in our approach to youth engagement and avoid sending the message that we only care about you when you cause harm.”

Simple rewarding systems such as certificates, prizes and scholarships can serve as great incentives for youth. They can also inspire their peers to take action and participate in peace programs.

Further, try to situate your organization’s programming for young people within larger peacebuilding efforts. Without comprehensive efforts to change the underlying factors that contributed to war in the first place, youths might feel that their efforts are in vain.

7. Support education and capacity-building for peace.

Access to education is fundamental for facilitating young people’s positive engagement in peace. Youth suggested specific and practical ways this could be realised, including reforms to civic education, and the introduction of peace education.

“The only thing that can ensure us a better future is education… Without education, the country will not have a future”. – Young Azeri woman living in Georgia.

8. Facilitate and support dignified livelihoods.

Greater economic opportunities for youth are necessary to motivate young people to pursue peaceful and productive paths in their lives. Youth are keen to increase their opportunities to learn skills and develop entrepreneurial capacities but these need to be made available to them.

“The main concern of both young and older generations is to ensure daily well-being, that is, to find a job, get an education. Only after these problems are resolved will it be possible to increase the youth’s interest in resolving the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.” – Georgian youth.

9. Support youth visions of peace.

Even when they have not known life without conflict, young people have clear visions of what peace should be, and have a strong desire for a future without violence. Peace processes need to ensure meaningful inclusion of these views in their design and implementation.

“For me when there is no firing and shelling, it is peace. When children do not become victims of mine blasts in my village, it is peace. When I see my mother going to the fields to collect wood and graze animals, it is peace. When I see children playing in the common fields or grounds then I consider it peace.” – Young person in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

10. Plan a peaceful event.

If you want to raise awareness about problems facing your community and encourage peace in your community, then organizing a peaceful event is a good option. Try banding together with some local community members to put together an event, such as a community picnic, a food drive for a local food bank, a peaceful protest, or a walk through your community to raise awareness about a problem your community is facing.

If you don’t feel ready to plan an event, then you could also organize a small meeting. Try planning a meeting and inviting some other community members who are interested in making your community a more peaceful place. Use the meeting to share your concerns and discuss possible solutions.

Conclusion
Problems within a community can prevent people from living safe, happy, and productive lives. Promoting peace in a community is an extraordinary challenge, and it often requires the work and dedication of many community members. However, you can help to promote peace within your community by encouraging good relationships with your neighbors, learning more about your community’s history, and taking action to deal with violence.

Reference:
1. Devex.com ways to successfully engage youths in peace building by Manola De Vos.
2. C-r.org ways to support youth inclusion in peacebuilding.

What makes up a leader?

By Azugbene Solomon.

Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good.

Leadership is all about being passionate about what you do, and having confidence in yourself and your followers whom you have to motivate and inspire.” “Great leaders make the hard choice, and self-sacrifice in order to enhance the lives of others around them.

A leader understands that it is the people they lead that ultimately determines the success or failure of any venture. They surround themselves with great people that they can cultivate into a team of competent, confident individuals who can work well as a team. They then have the ability to guide this team towards a well-defined vision by clearly communicating short and long terms goals, inspiring confidence and trust among colleagues, and influencing common efforts through character rather than by a position of authority. Ultimately, a great leader creates and nurtures other leaders.

leaders have clarity of purpose and are great at articulating their beliefs. I aspire to be the kind of leader that pushes people to be the very best they can be but still make people feel safe because it starts with the heart.”

A leader does not lead by forcing people to follow. Instead, a great leader motivates people. They encourage others to follow them. They also lead by example, which few leaders do today.

Keys that make up a leader are:

1. Empowerment.

Good leaders are characterized by their ability to empower their teams to achieve maximum success. It is important to think through what empowerment means and how best to employ it so your organization can harness its strength.

Empowerment is a means to include the team in decision making, to give them a participatory role which capitalizes on their own expertise and judgment, and that increases their sense of both individual worth and commitment to the organization. Empowerment also demonstrates that you have good listening skills, and that you care about the input of everyone on your team. When you empower your team, you motivate them to “row together”, and you increase the overall success of your mission. Empowering builds confidence in their capacity to execute your collective mission and goals, establishes essential trust in an organization, and creates the secondary level of leadership necessary when you are not present for key decisions so that the organization continues.

Empowerment creates a healthy, positive and ultimately successful organization – one in which there is ownership of the vision and trust in the leadership. If you are listening to your subordinates, and then acting with consideration of their thoughtful inputs, you are empowering them and your organization.

2. Vision.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.” -Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame

“There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.” -James Kouzes and Barry Posner

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” -Jack Welch

Leaders have vision. They share a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow. The leadership vision goes beyond your written organizational mission statement and your vision statement.

The vision of leadership permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values, and goals of your organization’s leaders. This vision attracts and affects every employee who is engaged in living this set of actions, beliefs, values, and goals. They want to share your vision.

3. Core Values.

Values are the guiding principles in our lives. Leadership occurs within the context of core values. Leaders guide and facilitate others to make a positive difference in their own lives and to contribute to a larger good. Values inform the application of leadership qualities as the competencies of leadership are activated – learned, developed, and practiced – within the set of core values. By focusing on what people believe and value, and then positively building on this understanding, we have the potential for impact far more wide reaching than if we approached leadership development as a problem-solving activity.

a) Respect

As demonstrated by self respect and respecting others regardless of differences; treating others with dignity, empathy and compassion; and the ability to earn the respect of others.

b) Making a Difference

As demonstrated by personal efforts that lead to making a positive impact on individuals, systems, and/or organizations or positively affecting outcomes.

c) Integrity

As demonstrated by moral courage, ethical strength, and trustworthiness; keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.

d) Authenticity

As demonstrated by consistency, congruency, and transparency in values, beliefs, and actions; integrating values and principles to create a purposeful life and to contribute to the growth of others.

e) Courage

As demonstrated by possessing a strength of self to act with intention on behalf of the common good; taking a stand in the face of adversity; acting boldly in the service of inclusion and justice.

f) Service

As demonstrated by commitment that extends beyond one’s own self interest; personal humility for the sake of a greater cause.

g) Humility

As demonstrated by a sense of humbleness, dignity and an awareness of one’s own limitations; open to perspectives different from one’s own.

h) Wisdom

As demonstrated by a broad understanding of human dynamics and an ability to balance the interests of multiple stakeholders when making decisions; can take a long term perspective in decision-making.

4. Performance.

Performance in leadership is the heart, backbone, and spirit of a good leader. Your performance as a leader is not shaped by trying harder, working longer, or being cleverer, but by consistently acting like the sort of leader you would want to follow.

The ability to influence the leadership skills of your team members in order to meet organizational demands is a complex element of the overall leadership development picture. Leaders are tasked with effectively guiding organizational goal achievement, while considering team member skills necessary to produce the desired output.

A focus on balancing talent development with organizational goal achievement will place the company on a trajectory of achieving performance success. Motivating team members toward goal achievement is no small task. Essentially, leaders should reflect behaviors that inspire and motivate people to change.

Though motivation factors vary across an organization, there are many leadership qualities common to successful leaders. Leadership qualities that influence goal achievement include the ability to create a clear vision, the ability to understand organizational culture, the ability to focus on performance development, and the ability to encourage innovation.

Conclusion
Many of us in leadership or management positions know what we need to do to be better leaders, we just sometimes fail to act. Being a great leader requires constant personal and professional development, regular transparent feedback from the team, self-reflection and taking action on feedback received. Great leaders are rarely satisfied with their performance.

Leadership is a mindset in action. So don’t wait for the title. Leadership isn’t something that anyone can give you—you have to earn it and claim it for yourself.

Reference
1. Masonleads.gmu.edu core leadership values by George Mason University.
2. Thebalancecarees.com leadership vision by Susan M. Heathfield.
3. Forbes.com 10 unique perspectives on what makes a great leader by Brent Gleeson.
4. Davidhuntown.com how successful leaders use empowerment to build trust and excellence by Collins Powell.
5. Aboutleaders.com Leaders Influence Team Performance and Goal Achievement by Florida Starks.

The Role of Youth in Leadership

By Azugbene Solomon

Youth leadership is the practice of teens exercising authority over themselves or others. Youth leadership has been elaborated upon as a theory of youth development in which young people gain skills and knowledge necessary to lead civic engagement, education reform and community organizing activities.

Youth leadership opportunities are often overlooked by adults, either knowingly or unknowingly, but the results are the same; a lost opportunity for young people to take the lead. Even when adults consider themselves champions for youth in leadership roles, many times adults are asked to assume the leadership positions instead of letting youth take the lead.

Youth participation in leadership is a critical priority. The situation in Nigeria and many African countries have created conditions that hardly favour young people.

Some of the problems that impede the effective participation of the youth in leadership are mainly to do with inequalities in the social, economic and political arena. One of them is the shortage of opportunities for education and training.

Additionally, the failure to respect the human rights of the youth as active citizens has created difficulties when it comes to youth participation in political leadership.

Levels of youth unemployment are so high that young people engage in vices that do not contribute to their well-being but put their lives and potential at risk.

The people demand to play a major role in ensuring that the so-called “mentors” or “elders”, who want to cling to power or leadership positions that belong to all citizens, are held accountable for making policies that fail to empower the young majority.

Youth participation in socio-economic and civic development is vital for the development of any country.

Youth involvement is an important means to overcome disrespect and marginalisation of young people at a time the continent is experiencing a boom in the population of the youth.

Youths must seek to participate in government, politics and policy formulation. We must shelve aside our responsibilities of joining mainstream politics and forming healthy and progressive alliances among ourselves and participating in all issues of national interest. This way, our voices will be heard and our views considered.

Conclusion
We need the wisdom of the old because if the energy of youth is left unchecked, it portends imminent danger. It is time for the young generation to stop seeing themselves as too young. We all have something to offer this great Africa continent.

Reference
1. Mwnation.com Youths’ role in leadership by Steve Binali.
2. Canr.msu.edu Youth in leadership roles by Connie Lange.