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” A message for International Youth Day “
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” A message for International Youth Day “


As we celebrate International Youth Day 2019 under the theme “Transforming Education,” Bismark Akoto, 23, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Legon, Ghana explores the power of education to change the lives of our youth, arguing that there are two key areas that must be addressed to transform education.

The impact of education on our lives cannot be underestimated. Education reduces inequalities, breaks the cycle of poverty and empowers people to live healthier lives and attain more productive livelihoods. Despite the positive impact that education can have on our youths, 25 million children are out of school today because they are living in conflict zones.

Added to that, 72 million children of primary school age are not empowered to improve their lives because they are illiterate. These are the bare truths and harsh realities confronting us and the picture gets even more sobering when we consider that there are 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in our world today; the largest youth population ever! These huge numbers can either be a blessing or a curse depending on the quality of education and training given to them. 

In an effort to attain SDG 4 and make a blessing of the youth bulge, many countries including Ghana have established laudable educational policies geared at increasing enrollment numbers, especially at the basic level. Malawi in 1994, Tanzania in 2001 and Kenya in 2003 successfully established free basic education with Ghana also extending free education to the senior high school level in 2017.

These are commendable initiatives, as education is a key enabler to attaining the SDGs and is the most powerful weapon we can use to change our world. With a good education, people can do more than break the cycle of poverty, they can also understand and address local and global problems such as the impact of global warming, water management and sanitation. 

While it is important for us to focus on increasing the numbers of young people who have access to education, we cannot stop there, but must also improve the quality of education and our educational outcomes.

As we celebrate the International Youth Day under the theme “Transforming Education,” we can improve the quality of education for our youths by paying close attention to two key areas: the timely review of educational curricula and teacher empowerment.

In Ghana, for example, where a new curriculum for basic schools has been introduced, there must be a conscious effort by the authorities to update the curriculum with subjects that are relatable to our region, as we work to solve our never-ending challenges. It is worth mentioning that international best practice requires a review of the curriculum every five years. 

Additionally, we need to prioritize teacher education by providing educators with appropriate and innovative pedagogical skills, incentives and the continuous possibilities for professional development. Teachers need our support to perform well, especially those teaching under very harsh conditions in the hinterlands.

In conclusion, despite the harsh story which statistics tell us about education globally, If we pursue the timely review of educational curricula and teacher empowerment and more, we will accelerate our efforts to transform education, making it accessible and enriching for all.

Photo Credit: The Commonwealth’s Asset Bank

About me: I am a graduate of University of Ghana where I studied Political Science. I have been an Assistant Schools’ Coordinator for the National Union of Presbyterian Students-Ghana from 2015 to 2018. I am currently an IT Assistant at Akuafo Hall ICT Laboratory, University of Ghana. I am hugely interested in issues related to education, sustainable development, human right, poverty reduction, democracy and international relations. It’s my vision to use my acquired knowledge to develop my country and Africa.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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