Tuesday, 12th August is International Youth Day. The day is observed globally every year to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today‟s global society. It follows the United Nations General Assembly‟s endorsement on 17th December, 1999 of recommendations by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12th August be declared International Youth Day.
The global theme of International Youth Day 2014 is “Youth and Mental Health”. Ghana has however adopted the theme “Investing in Young People: The Key to Ghana‟s Transformation and Economic Development”. This feeds into on-going discussions around „harnessing the demographic dividends‟ which is the accelerated economic growth that can happen as the population structure changes with a decline in fertility and mortality resulting in a smaller dependent population relative to the population of working-age adults.
Countries like Thailand, Brazil and the „Asian Tigers‟ have harnessed the benefits of this change in the population structure through investments and implementing strategic policies in health, education, governance and economics.
Ghana‟s population has remained youthful and this is reflected in all the national censuses conducted in the country since independence. Like other African countries, if the situation is left unchecked, it will increase the over- dependency on the fewer working-age population as many youth are unemployed or unemployable due to little or no capacity or skills.
On the occasion of this year‟s International Youth Day, Curious Minds calls on government and other relevant stakeholders to take immediate and strategic actions towards reducing and halting this trend by intensifying family planning programmes and ensuring adequate attention is paid to adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues.
We further call for increased investments in education and skills building, healthcare provision, employment generation schemes and a broad based youth participation in the national development discourse.
Curious Minds extends an appeal to parents and other caregivers to be more responsive to the growth and development of their children to ensure they are not exposed to conditions that allow teenage pregnancy and other sexual and reproductive health related problems to fester.
We call on other stakeholders such as chiefs, opinion leaders, teachers, local governments to work together with the central government, our Development Partners and civil society to take steps to harness the full potential of our population.
On this occasion, we salute all who are working to ensure the holistic development of young people and urge them to accelerate such noble efforts.
Curious Minds is a young people serving organisation that has worked in the area of children and youth development since 1996 from a four prong approach namely Advocacy, Capacity Building, Communication and Organisational Development.
Curious Minds has over the period worked with various stakeholders including government, the UN Systems and other relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to empower young people and promote their development.
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