The long- vacation for Ghanaian students is around the corner. And, just like every year, the Ghanaian children and youths are going to roam about aimlessly in the streets of Ghana; with nothing else to do to occupy their time. There is no employment or recreational activity for them.
Does anyone see them? They’re the most voiceless, powerless and vulnerable segment of the population; that is why we hardly talk about them in the national debates. Notwithstanding, they’re around— because they have nowhere else to go!
Supposedly they are our future leaders, engineers, medical doctors, policymakers and future parents. But, are they equipped to take the baton from us? Are they ready to deal with the new world economic order which is very kinetic and requires more sophisticated and more disciplined workforce or leadership which could response boldly, creatively, intelligently, and responsibly to its customers or people?
Regrettably, my generation had been naïve in thinking that the negative behaviors we’re retailing wantonly are somehow not transferable or contagious because we have inoculated our younger generation against all the bad things we have done to put mother Ghana in clutches permanently. But, sadly as seen by the high level of negative impulses exhibiting by the younger generation, that conviction is hollow. We’re going to see the carbon- copy of my generation’s flaws and iniquities, multiplied by four.
Since my generation is focused so much on how we can out- spend one another and rape the country to the bone along the way, we can not blame our young generation for thinking the same kinds of things we have embraced wholeheartedly.
As if being born in Ghana or being a teenager or a youth was not bad enough, now our youths are forced to handle so much information simultaneously while they are trying to figure out their role and importance in the national equation.
With all the facebooking,tweeting,e-mailing, texting and sexting they’re communicating a lot .But all that extraneous information about their day-to-day life dissolves into boredom and pessimism.
What is a “cybergeneration”?
A Cybergeneration is commonly translated as a group of teenagers, and young adults who are heavily hooked and focused on themselves and anything that requires less physical work.
A cybergeneration is also heavily focused and hooked on electronic gadgetry and depends on virtual friends” than their own family members. We’re talking about a group of people who are financially promiscuous, unprepared for the future, live on instant- gratification and hate responsibility .They’re very materialistic and look for an effortless society with virtually maintenance free lifestyle. They dress provocatively; with the females among them sometimes, exhibiting their gravity-defying body parts and wares; unapologetically. It’s euphemistically referred to as; “I’m –aware!”
Most of our youths hate to read, they can not do basic arithmetic; without using the calculator on their cellphones, and have no respect for authority and with zero tolerance for work ethics or the inclination to do any menial labor.
Those statistics will be out of date by the end of this year or this week or even the end of this sentence. You may find it hard to comprehend how fast the cybergeneration is revolving. But it’s moving constantly and wantonly consuming any idea and culture in its pathway.
So whose fault is it?
Before you blow your gasket and start throwing things around I want to make it clear that these characterizations are by no means an indictment of our youths—far from that. Yes, I might come across as being too hard on them and some of my statements may sound so acerbic, but my heart is in the right place.
I draw no conclusion as to whether this young generation is good or not, but I believe there is a story to report, and to do so without x-raying its chromosome would have made no sense under the circumstance.
I’m just trying to paint a vivid picture of a system(our social or political system) that has failed to address the needs of our youths and therefore has perpetuated the decline of our young generation’s welfare , future and ability to sort through all the social trash –coming from outside and inside of the country.
There are many political and social underpinning factors that have contributed to their present status of our youths and those are the premises of which this piece is seeking to address. And, for me to address some of the problems, I had to dissect and x-ray them. By the way, an x-ray by its nature doesn’t produce pretty pictures. Does it?
For one thing these kids are bored and overwhelmed. So often the only way for them to cut through the clutter of information and boredom is to be outrageous and rebellious. They think, “what the heck, we must as well have fun if no one gives a damn about us and our needs”. So they find ways and means to utterly detach themselves from reality. Maybe, they are hooked on electronic devices to indulge virtually in roles that escape them in reality. That is probably the only time they feel they are in control of their own destiny.
Where are the parents, children advocates or children welfare agencies, and the policymakers when our future leaders are being marginalized by the society, school system and the government? Admittedly, we try to hide the plights of our children from public and national discussions, like a trouble- maker uncle during a family reunion — we don’t want our guests to see him. But, he is around.
Naively or conveniently Ghana has neglected its children (especially the disadvantaged ones and at-risk youths), by failing to provide playgrounds, after-school programmes and recreational activities centers. As a result we’re disproportionately raising and creating cyber generation by default.
So you think we have unemployable citizens, lousy politicians, lazy -customer-service- impaired workforce and all the society ills in our midst now? Think again. You haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until our current teenagers get into the new economy labor market. It’s going to get very crazy because they lack a lot of socialization skills that are needed in order for them to perform and play their meaningful roles in the mainstream local economy and world economy.
The remnant of governmental and societal neglect of our children over decades has produced (and still producing) a generation that does enjoy reading or following politics .It lacks respect for authority or the elderly and does not maintain a brisk work ethics, and yet it wants to be mega rich; self-made millionaires when thinking about money. Folks, say hello to “Sakawa” and “419” practitioners!
The question is: how long can a great nation like ours continue to enjoy political and economic vitality if its young citizens and future leaders are neglected and forced to pick up the pieces whilst they’re still pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps?
Regrettably, we’re virtually raising and creating a group of citizens that do not want to know our history—because they are not interested! But, they have more time to spend on facebook than to face a book. They have enough time to download and upload, chat and flash until they fall asleep. They’re texting and “sexting” more than ever; so they do not see the need to read any thought-provoking book.
When was the last time you saw anyone reading a newspaper on a bus in Ghana? Incidentally, on national level, do you know anyone in Ghana who can name two books he has read (other than text books) in the last two years? Not too many! Mind you, I didn’t mention anything about our politicians’ or policy makers’ reading habits. Interestingly, to most of us, our “education” ended the day we graduated from school or college—very serious and dangerous phenomenon. No wonder our young generation is picking up on that so fast.
Perhaps to address these problems there is a need to expand the whole school concept to include: school-community partnerships— involving community institutions, organizations and community groups to design and formulate social programmes for our youths and children. I’m talking about programmes in which schools and community groups work together to create new recreational sport activities and after- school programmes for children and youths at all level.
Facts are facts and are hard to ignore. The facts are these:
1) The average Ghanaian children and youths are bored and they need an outlet to ease things up a little.
2) They’re overwhelmed with information that they do not have any use for.
3) They like to be amused, engaged, busy and happy. So until we provide an atmosphere to which they can channel their over-charged energies and megawatt-hormones, we are sitting on a time bomb.
4) Alcoholism has become their pain -killer.
Every child in Ghana needs an outlet. But, our At-risk youths and economically disadvantaged children in under-resourced communities in Ghana need availability and affordability of quality playgrounds and after-school programmes the most—so as to prevent them from going astray in life because the time is running out.
Where do we expect these At -Risk, and disadvantaged youths to go when schools are not in session and no recreational programmes? Does anyone really care? Is our cybergeneration equipped to deal with our emerging socio-economic problems?
Well, your answers are as good as mine! But, there are many more where these came from, and I’ll be discussing them in the second part of this piece. Please join me to improve upon what you have read or suggest new answers and solutions.
Kwaku Adu –Gyamfi (Voice Of Reason)
*The author is a social commentator and the founder of The Adu-Gyamfi Disadvantaged Youth Empowerment Foundation, at Asuom.
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