My name is Mohammed Numbo Fathiyat, a student of Ghana Institute of Languages and a volunteer with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana; YAMghana. I think it’s necessary for us to encourage the youth to learn leadership skills, to become leaders for they are our future.
LEADERSHIP is about developing people and helping others reach their full potential. It’s about equipping others with the right tools and strategies not only to maximize the success of an organization but also the lives of individuals. Strong youth leaders can increase accountability and encourage good governance for health. Investing in youth leadership not only ensures that the future generation is equipped with competencies necessary for strong leadership, but enhances young people’s understanding of how to be responsible and accountable.
Youth leadership is part of the youth development process and supports the young person in developing: (a) the ability to analyse his or her own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals, and have the self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and abilities to carry them out (including the ability to establish support networks in order to fully participate in community life and effect positive social change); and (b) the ability to guide or direct others on a course of action, influence the opinions and behaviours of others, and serve as a role model (Wehmeyer, Agran, & Hughes, 1998).Conditions that promote healthy youth development are supported through programs and activities in schools and communities. Youth development researchers and practitioners emphasize that effective programs and interventions recognize youths’ strengths and seek to promote positive development rather than addressing risks in isolation. Youth who are constructively involved in learning and doing and who are connected to positive adults and peers are less likely to engage in risky or self-defeating behaviors.
Africa won its liberation through the efforts of the young. Across the African continent, the moment of independence represented many things. It was the winning of the political kingdom and the promise that the continent could unshackle itself from the chains of colonial rule and achieve the social and economic development for which its people had yearned. But national independence manifested something else too, something that is easily overlooked with the passage of almost half a century. The social and political movements that struggled against colonial and racist rule were overwhelmingly parties of the young.
Not only were the rank and file of independence movements filled by youth, but the leaders themselves were young. It is striking to look at the photographs of Africa’s independence leaders as they assembled in Africa Hall for the creation of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. They were strikingly youthful. It was not uncommon for prime ministers and foreign ministers to be in their thirties. And these were the veterans of many years of struggle, struggle that had often begun in high schools, and had frequently reached its zenith among students in universities. When the Italian colonists lowered the flag in Mogadishu, they handed over the government to the Somali Youth League.
The prominence of the young was clear in the civil struggles that yielded peaceable liberation in countries such as Ghana, Senegal and Tanganyika. Still more was it true of the armed liberation struggles that brought freedom to Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. If the leadership of South Africa’s liberation struggle were entering what would normally be considered retirement age at the time of that country’s liberation, that was only because overcoming Apartheid took so many long years.
Recognizing the importance of his young followers, Nelson Mandela proposed that South Africa’s first democratic constitution reduce the age of enfranchisement. The proposal was not adopted, but it was a genuine and bold effort to reciprocate the trust that the country’s young revolutionaries had placed in the men and women who had led their struggle for more than a generation. Liberation Integration of young people into key strategic leadership roles is essential for sustainable economic development and the survival of Africa. Despite historical evidence of young people’s contributions in driving changes in political systems, they face multiple forms of silent discrimination and limited opportunities to participate in formal and informal leadership roles.
The challenge of youth integration into key strategic leadership roles in South Africa, much like the rest of Africa, has to do with the mistrust and greed of leaders who refuse to charge young people with a responsibility to lead and be part of decision-making processes. There is alack of youth representation in key strategic positions in the country. South Africa is a youthful nation (it is estimated that more than 36% of the population is between the ages of 14 and 35) and this can be a bedrock for economic growth.
Failure to make advances in developing and capacitating young people to take up leadership roles is a woeful delay of the future we aspire to build. South Africa cannot consider itself as a world leader, considering the excessive looting of state resources, unaccountable government officials and lack of decisive leadership. As a result of suppressing the vibrant participation of young people in leadership positions, a dysfunctional and destructive crop of leaders is prevailing at the expense of young people. There is a tendency in the business, social and political arenas to reserve valuable young leaders for future leadership roles that may never come into existence. This toxic culture must be dispelled if we are serious about moving from a developmental state to a progressive socioeconomic path. We must encourage a common and shared goal and allow young leaders to develop and advance effective models. Although a long-term development framework, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 promises a positive future but this cannot be guaranteed without young leaders taking full ownership of the framework. After all, they are the ones who will still be around to account for the success or failure of Agenda 2063.
Disruption of youth participation can no longer be left unattended by business and in institutions of learning, religion and politics. Young people must sit on boards, college councils and cabinets. Business and government must prioritize bringing young people to work: by restructuring labor market dynamics that often miss the opportunity to groom young people in rural areas, teaching them life skills beyond formal qualifications and entrusting them with leadership roles. Business, government and universities must establish partnerships tasked with identifying young people in and outside institutions of higher learning. Part of this task must involve research units that will facilitate the programmes by conducting needs assessments, planning, implementation and evaluation.
The initiative should enable and promote a climate of healthy youth development. A national commitment and greater investment in youth initiatives should take priority. Policymakers and governments must accelerate leadership programmes in government and other sectors. Each company should set up mechanisms to adopt a creative policy aimed at developing young leaders who will drive the attainment of sustainable goals. This approach should enable healthy dialogue, draw in energetic young employees and encourage participation by young people.
The strength demonstrated by dedicated young people should be recognised in our spaces. Community leaders and politicians must work with young people and welcome new ideas, especially as our world changes and technology continues to advance. Empowering young people and integrating them into key strategic leadership roles begins when the older people acknowledge the opportunities presented to us by youth participation, transmission of knowledge and trusting youth with achieving sustainable development goals. It is all possible and it can be done if we have the right intentions.
Here are just a few of the many ways you can develop young leaders.
- Teach them about confidence.
- Be a great example.
- Encourage them to take part in youth engagement programs.
- Teach them to be organized.
- Encourage them to make the world a better place.
- Explain that failure isn’t always a bad thing.
- Allow them to make their own decisions.