Koforidua — The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu has said it has become necessary for the legislature and other stakeholders to train and guide the youth as the working force and future of the country to develop keen interest in governance issues.
According to him, Ghana has a young population structure with about 57 per cent of the population below the ages of 25 years, making it imperative to train them to take up the mantle from the current crop of politicians when they retire.
He added "the level of success, quality and the continued sustenance of our democracy is expressly dependent on how we are able to train, educate and inculcate the principles of parliamentary democracy in the youth."
Mr Owusu was speaking at a maiden conference of youth parliaments held here under the auspices of the National Youth Authority with support from the Parliament of Ghana and sponsorship from Star Ghana and Westminster Foundation.
The conference was purposed to bring together the various students' parliaments in tertiary institutions across the country to dialogue and develop a workable framework for their operations and develop strategies to foster collaboration and harmonise their activities for better coordination and implementation.
Mr Owusu revealed that to train the youth, parliament has over the years facilitated the establishment of student's parliaments to whip their interest in governance issues.
He stated there was the need to support them and bring them under one umbrella with common objectives and guidelines to streamline their activities.
Mr Owusu said the conference was appropriate to strengthen the foundations of the country's democracy through such engagements in the context of youth empowerment in the governance process.
"In undertaking our assignments, it is critical that there is consensus building among the various youth representatives and all key stakeholders in order to agree on workable rules of engagements and come out with an implementable working document that would guide the way forward in empowering our youth for future leadership in the nation's political dispensation," he stated
For his part, the Eastern regional minister, Mr Eric Kwakye Darfour, whose speech was read on his behalf, bemoaned the wrong perception people have about Members of Parliament, and their work, adding that such perception was affecting youth participation in governance and other socio-developmental issues.
He acknowledged that the youth of today were faced with a myriad of challenges including inadequate employment opportunities, among others adding that for these challenges to be addressed, there was the need to maximise the knowledge, experiences and expertise in the design, implementation and evaluation of youth policies and mainstream these policies across sectors.
"unfortunately, many of our youth cannot be actively engaged in such decision-making process to articulate, respond and debate on these due to lack of capacity, opportunity to develop and position themselves for such purposes," he explained
Mr Darfour stated that the national dialogue was pivotal to create a healthy environment and platform for youngsters to discuss social, political, economic and other issues by implementing their intellectuality and also developing their unique ideological set.
Pic:Mr Joseph Osei Owusu (5th from left in African print, deputy Eastern Regional minister, Samuel Ayertey Nuertey, in brown and officials from Star Ghana and Westminster Foundation and other parliamentarians in a picture with youth parliamentarians from the various tertiary institutions across the country