Ghana youth rise to the challenge
ACCRA - In a bid to find innovative solutions to issues affecting children and young people in Ghana, the highly-competitive Global Generation Youth Challenge 2019-2020 was launched in November just days ahead of World Children’s Day and the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
More than 400 teams from across Ghana aged between 14 and 24 years applied to take part in this year’s Challenge. Fifty-two applicants, which formed 15 teams, were eventually selected through a competitive process to participate in the Youth Challenge which was co-hosted by UNICEF, UNDP, and Plan International Ghana, supported by the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service and Ecobank.
“The goal of the initiative is to support young people to identify and also co-create solutions to problems that we are facing in all countries related to education, skills set, employment and civic engagement by young people,” said UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier at the opening of the challenge.
UNDP, Resident Representative a.i, Silke Hollander urged participants to actively engage in the challenge to be able to create practical solutions. She said, “opportunities such as this youth challenge and UNDP’s YouthConnekt Ghana, empower and equip young people to test and scale up their innovations.”
“Plan International is extremely happy to be associated with this challenge. The youth are the most affected by the generational gap in representation, skill force and equality and there are no better persons to be called on to design solutions to solve their own problems in very innovative and practical ways. My wish for you all here is that, at the end of the challenge, you and your networks will become more productive and engaged citizens,” said Plan International Ghana Country Director, Solomon Tesfamariam, during the event.
Each team was determined to find the most creative, and practical solutions to topics which spanned from access to education for people from rural areas and living with a disability, to how to encourage girls in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM).
Teams spent two days hacking solutions in a bootcamp. They then presented their ‘pitch’ to a panel of judges: Hayford Siaw of Ghana Library Authority and Generational Unlimited Global Advisor; Gijs Bakker of Royal Netherlands Embassy to Ghana; Victoria Quaynor of Generation Unlimited Young People’s Action Team, Lady Omega Hammond of Ampersand Technologies Ltd., and Roberta Geraldine Amissah Allotey of Ecobank.
Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, Deputy Minister of Education, Basic and Secondary Education, encouraged the young people to take advantage of the opportunity given by this challenge. He said, “it really does not matter what your background is but what matters is that you are here, and you are going to be as determined as you can to make the best out of every opportunity that may come your way and become the best that this country has to offer.”
The rigorously competitive process rendered five teams that have advanced to take on greater challenges:
- Team Nexa will use creative skills to educate young people and create awareness about mental illness and create a mobile app to support persons affected by mental illness.
- SheaMe will start an agro-processing empowerment initiative using shea plant to produce oil, cream, balm and its residues to produce shoes, sandals and insulators.
- EmployDeaf will develop a business incubation program to train students with hearing disabilities on how to start a business, how to access funding, how to manage established businesses, and how to reach customers.
- Kideaf Girls Ambassadors will teach adolescent girls including those living with disabilities how to produce handmade pads and create awareness on menstrual hygiene management.
- ETATI (Empowered to achieve the impossible) will train people cured of leprosy skills to design bags, beads and local sandals to earn extra income and reduce dependency on donations from individuals and organizations.
Each selected team will receive a financial contribution and a tailored incubation programme, which will include virtual and face-to-face mentorship that would support testing and finessing of solutions for 16 weeks, from December 2019 to May 2020.
Angelina Anobil, a participant of the challenge, “the programme has taught us a new way of thinking about solutions for the problems we had identified.”
The incubation period will lead up to the Global Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge in June - July 2020 which will see two teams from Ghana competing.
Notes to Editor
Generation Unlimited is a multi-sector partnership established to support every young person aged 10-24 in bridging the transition from education and training to employment and entrepreneurship. It brings together public and private partners – and young people themselves – to identify and capitalize on opportunities for shared-value partnerships and investments in strategies, models, initiatives, products and programs supporting outcomes for young people.
The Generation Unlimited Secretariat, hosted by UNICEF, launched the first-Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge in September 2018 in 16 countries with a call for applications from young people from marginalized and disadvantaged backgrounds. The second-Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2019/20 is hosted in Ghana and 40 other countries globally. Generation Unlimited local partners: UNICEF, UNDP and Plan International Ghana are delighted to work with young people of Ghana to create better future for young people.
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.
About Plan International
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We believe in the power and potential of every child. We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and are now active in more than 75 countries.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.