Child Rights International (CRI), a non-governmental organisation focused on the welfare of children is calling for the use of African prints as school uniforms to promote patriotism in children. CRI is also asking for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education to be prioritized while reorienting children on the importance of agriculture.
Executive Director of CRI, Mr. Bright Appiah made the call when he presented findings of a national survey by his outfit dubbed, “Ghana through the lens of children: present and the next twenty years”. The survey sought to get an insight into the experiences of Ghanaian children and their vision for the country’s future.
11,288 children from age twelve (12) to seventeen (17) were sampled in the country’s sixteen regions.
“We know that children are responsible from the age 12 because the law says they can be held responsible for their actions and we considered this age range because of the understanding we wanted to have….”.
The survey focused on understanding children’s values, attitudes, concerns, and optimism about the future of Ghana. CRI believes that understanding the views, priorities, and concerns of Ghana’s young population is essential for policymakers to build the brightest future for them and unlock the full potential of the country’s demographic dividend.
The “Ghana through the lens of children: present and the next twenty years” survey also showed that, while ninety three percent of respondents “feel proud to be Ghanaians”, “fifty five percent want to leave the country by 2040 citing jobs, education and better standards of living” as the reasons.
The survey lists the top five (5) social problems for children in Ghana today as; High unemployment (66 percent), High poverty level (42%), High level of corruption (36%), high level of education (36%), and Poor education (29%).
The findings also showed that eighty percent of children are not interested in building a career in agriculture in the next twenty (20) years. CRI notes that the issues being expressed by children need attention. The child focused non-profit organization is worried that only twenty percent of children sampled would like to venture into agriculture.
On religion, eighty-one percent (81%) of children say religion is important while seventy three percent (73%) say religion is personal as opposed to religious affiliation of family or culture.
The top three (3) factors that make children proud of Ghana, according to the report are; “Peace and stability, Freedom of speech, and System of democracy”, whereas the top three (3) things children would do if they assume leadership roles would be; to Create jobs, Fight Corruption, and Improve education.
Only forty per cent (40%) of the respondents are confident in finding a job in the next 20 years.
Mr. Appiah recommends a strategy to influence the minds of these children to have trust in the country.
“For national pride, CRI recommends the teaching of patriotic songs in all educational institutions at all levels, translate all school mottos and national anthem into the language of the area where schools are located, and the use of African prints as uniforms because we realised that speaks a lot to the children to build their state of nationalism.”
He further added, “the school environment should also be designed with patriotic symbols for the children to have things to see with reference to Ghana.”
“With regards to education, high level of importance must be accorded STEM subjects, as well as technical and vocational courses. Scholarships needed in this area. Free will for students to decide what courses they want to do must be given”, he further added.
CRI recommends conscious effort to expose agriculture opportunities to children within the supply chain so that they do not see agriculture as only farming.
He also highlighted that society must live a life of integrity and sub-consciousness since children emulate society by what they see. Officials found to be corrupt must be prosecuted and punished to serve as a deterrent. This, he said, will break the culture of impunity which the children will also learn.
Head of the department of psychology at the University of Ghana, Joseph Safo revealed a worrying pattern in suicidal thoughts among respondents of a survey conducted by the university.
“Three out of ten junior high students in Ghana have attempted to kill themselves for the past twelve months, 2 out of ten have thought of suicide. The group of respondents are potential adults who will be the leaders and drivers of this economy and when you read the report you see that we have a lot of work to do… This really exposes a generational gap.”
He blamed the older generation for lack of interest in agriculture as showed by the CRI findings, “Farming is associated with low status as most would rather want to become teachers, lawyers, doctors etc”, he said.
Mr. Safo supported the CRI’s call for a much-needed national discourse to realign our values, as it is worrying that the country’s future leaders are losing interest in their country. “The nature of our education must also be looked at. Free Senior High School policy is helping but what will they do when they get to the top since there are no jobs”, he lamented.
Mr. Safo explained that, “It takes up to ten years to get a job yet they want to live lavishly. This kind of mind-set means the report has come at the right time to help. All is not gloomy as young people are still very proud to be Ghanaians and this must be capitalised on to make something useful out of the children”, he concluded.
By: Sangmorkie Tetteh|www.zamireports.com|Accra.