In an election year where we are asking people to vote on issues that will concern them in the long term we have been distracted by the debate over intemperate language in election years. Do not get me wrong, we desperately need to curb the culture of insults in politics which cover up the lack of policies within the two main parties. But! My biggest fear is that Ghana votes for a peaceful party with no clue... for fear of the aggressive party with ideas. Voting for peace will not necessarily boost the country's development.
What has sparked this? In November 2011 the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, told graduates to seek jobs in barbering and hairdressing. He tried to spin this to say that the initiative will help them start their own businesses, which I'm guessing would be barbering and hairdressing businesses - which is a market already saturated by school-dropouts. The Minister said his ministry would support private entities in these fields (which also extend to tailoring, mobile phone repair and computer assembly) to train other young people.
The positives of this according to Sam? Unemployed graduates become self-reliant. Like I said though, these are markets that are saturated already by many who did not make it to university - I would know, I have many friends who are in barbering, hairdressing and tailoring and sadly my cousin, who wanted to be a doctor was pushed to become a seamstress because her father deemed the teaching hospital she was due to enroll at as "too far". What do you think this does for her confidence? Look how her destiny has changed because of Ghana's myopic notion that higher education and a good office job is not really necessary.
Again in April this year the deputy, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, of the same ministry stated, that unemployed graduates were lazy. Really now? Where exactly are these jobs he claims are in abundance? The fact that the President initiated LESDEP, does not mean that LESDEP is working. Rhetoric and practice do not always mimic each other. Like his boss, Elvis said there were jobs in the mobile phone assembly and repairs, hairdressing, tailoring industries under the LESDEP programme. What this tells me is that LESDEP has not clarified its agenda. Is it aimed at drop-outs, or graduates? And if both, does it have the spread of jobs to help everyone? Clearly from Elvis' own words, the answer is no. How degrading it is for a political science student to be told that he or she should ignore what they have paid to learn, in order to retrain as a hairdresser. Not that being a hairdresser is below that of a political science student but that the political science student cannot find work in the path of life he or she has chosen. Essentially what Sam and Elvis are telling young people is that their personal life choices do not matter in Ghana. From my grandfather's experience I can attest the fact that the last thing you want someone to do is settle for less than their dream. A truly inspirational leader as the Minister and Deputy are suppose to be, should be finding ways to build a "Better Ghana" on the accomplishment of its citizens dreams. Instead they are saying, "go down the mainstream path and don't try to branch out to what you want to do".
The deputy also wanted graduates to forget the idea that there are jobs waiting for them when they finish, he clearly wants Ghana to fall into the same trap as Europe if he cant see that the ONE thing graduates expect and hope for is a job at the end of the dark tunnel I call studying.
AND NOW! The Minister for Employment, Moses Asaga, is pretending to acknowledge the gravity of unemployment in the youth population but then also blaming private universities for high levels of graduate joblessness. So now the problem of the lack of job creation isn't the government who campaigned on this very issue but rather the problem is private entities who are creating jobs, by employing people to train others to be more ready for better jobs. Moses now says that private universities have saturated the market with sub-standard graduates, when his colleagues as early as November last year where saying there was space for graduates in already saturated markets - hairdressing, catering, tailoring.
In my eyes, Sam, Elvis and Moses don't have a clue. Really, I wonder how people as clueless as they are could be given such important jobs in the country. I think we can find others out of 25 million who could do the Ministers' jobs much better. They have in my eyes declared their negligence over issues concerning young people. If this was not President Mills' views then at best he is guilty of not knowing how to pick the best team for such an important part of Ghana's development. At worst he is trying to sabotage development from the bottom-up. Yes, Ken Agyapong was wrong with his comments and in an ideal political world the NPP would have abandoned him for the year and allowed him to make amends in other ways out of the spotlight. But, what danger is Ken words, when Sam, Elvis and Moses aren't even planning to build a Ghana for anyone to destroy? If campaigns such as Ghana Decides are to be effective they need to call these Ministers and other campaigners to account on their vision for youth employment and youth entrepreneurship. This is where governments are built, and toppled.