A member of the Council of State, Mr Sam Okudzeto, has advised senior high school students to study hard, be committed and contribute their quota towards the development of the country.
He said the youth must learn to appreciate that they had a job and responsibility to build the nation.
Mr Okudzeto gave this advice to students from selected senior high schools in the Greater Accra and Eastern regions during a side attraction event on the third day of the 71st New Year School and Conference. It was organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education under the University of Ghana in Accra on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
The topic for the youth programme was: "Ghana Beyond Aid: Preparing the youth for the future,” while the main three-day event was on the theme: "Attaining Ghana Beyond Aid: Prospects and challenges."
The students were from the Aburi Girls Senior High School, Frafraha Senior High School, West Africa Senior High School, Methodist Girls Senior High School, Presbyterian Boys Senior High School (Presec Legon) and Accra High Senior High School.
Sharing his experiences as a student outside Ghana at a young age and that of other prominent global leaders, Mr Okudzeto encouraged the senior high students to aspire to take up responsible roles and be ready to work hard to ensure Ghana attained its goal of a self sufficient economy that did not need to depend on aid from outside.
"As a young person, think about what opportunities are there, which of them can you contribute to and work towards," he said.
He told them about how he took odd jobs such as working in a post office and delivering parcels in the winter, cleaning dishes in a coffee shop, being a tram conductor and a bus conductor and then a cleaner in a factory in a bid to earn an income to support himself while he was studying in England.
"The hard work I did is written on me. I was introduced as a Member of the Council of State. Do you know how I got here?", he asked the students.
"The developer of Microsoft dropped out of university; the owner of Amazon whose mother had him while she was in the university is now behind the most successful company and the richest man in the world. The lives of these men must remind us that what they can do, you can do it. You must also say to yourself you will also achieve something distinguished in your life. Don't say you want to be like any of them. You must have a special talent," he said.
The lawyer told the students that all persons were endowed with different talents and "if you do not know what to do, ask God through persistent prayer. All hope is not lost. You have an opportunity to be in school but there are many who do not have such an opportunity."
He said some of the students might become inventors, entrepreneurs, professors because "each of you has a talent to achieve something and contribute to the development of our country. Our county can be as good as any other country."
On fighting corruption, he urged the young students not to swallow "all the greed the old have brought because when you put too much food in your mouth, you get choked."
He said young people had a role to play and also needed to find out what they could do to ensure Ghana achieved its beyond aid agenda.
"We must work to ensure Ghana will no longer depend on aid but we will be giving out aid. We have given aid before when France pulled off from Africa following the agitation for independence. In Guinea and Mali they unplugged even telephones and everything, leaving them destitute and Ghana came to the rescue," he educated the students.
He said Ghana gave the two countries financial support. "We have given aid before and we do not have to depend on America or any other country to give us aid but we will give aid to other African countries."
Ghana, he said, was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence and that encouraged others to follow and ”they have been imitating all the good things we do.”
He added: “We have more natural resources than most of the European countries and we cannot become beggars expecting handouts,” he said.
He asked the students to be proud of their country and work to ensure that Ghana continued to be a beacon of hope for the African continent.
Later during a panel discussion, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), Mr Justin Kodua Frimpong, urged the youth to acquire entrepreneurial skills and not look up to the government for employment after school.
Citing a survey by the Ghana Statistical Service, he said every year, 250,000 young women and men joined the labour market but government institutions could absorb only two per cent of the number, "and the 98 per cent have to find their way in the private sector."
He recommended that young people should venture into various entrepreneurial areas such as the agricultural, manufacturing sectors.
A student of Aburi Girls Senior High School, Ms Janie Asumanu, said the seminar enlightened them on what the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda was all about and was hopeful that the education would be extended to all students across the country.
Another student of the Presbyterian Boys Senior High School, Mr Seyeram Kumahor, said the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda must be supported by all and he was happy the youth who were the future leaders had been brought on board to ensure all citizens understand the agenda.
The programme was laced with musical performances from the choir and cultural group from the Accra High Senior School and a robotic display by students of the Methodist Girls Senior High School.