Ghana university debates highlight why young people need a say in democracy

Parliament University Debate985.jpeg The debates will help build the student parliament's awareness and understanding of democracy

Fri, 6 Sep 2019 Source: Akosua Boaduwaa

A month-long debate competition will take place in universities across Ghana on youth’s political participation and inclusion in governance from 4 September to 10 October 2019.

The debates will be on different motions all aimed at assessing how much each student parliament knows about how democratic governments function. They will also help build the student parliament’s awareness and understanding of democracy and parliamentary practice. Student parliaments are non-partisan mock parliaments of the National Parliament which discuss issues of students’ concern and channel them to the appropriate authorities for solutions.

The debates are being organised by the UK’s democracy support agency, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, under a UK Government initiative called the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy programme (CP4D), which aims to boost inclusive and accountable politics across the Commonwealth.

In recent years, democracy in Ghana has evolved but many young people in Ghana, who make up over 57% of the population, are still left out and lack knowledge on key governance processes. Sustainable good governance, development and democracy cannot materialise at country level without the active participation of the youth, who make the bulk of Ghana’s population.

The university debate will empower and equip the various students’ Parliaments with the necessary training and capacity building skills to prepare them for their prospects.

The debates are a continuation of an existing initiative, the Commonwealth Day Debate Competition by the Public Affairs Directorate of the Parliament of Ghana, that is knowledge driven and focuses on parliamentary development. This initiative also focuses on the youth’s acquisition of adequate skills towards their political aspirations and learning to work on personal development before getting politically affiliated.

University debates and competitions give youth the essential experiences around leadership and service, cultural dynamics, accountability, transparency, and democracy.

In the next one month, university students will also be engaged in quiz competitions and exposed to a video-documentary which cover young members of the Parliament in Ghana and the role they play in governance.

The Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (CP4D) programme, is implemented by the UK’s democracy support agency, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), in partnership with other UK organisations: The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s headquarters and UK branch, and Commonwealth Local Government Forum. The programme will continue until March 2020.

Source: Akosua Boaduwaa