National Service Nightmares

Scene from NSS registration

It is becoming clear that the number of youth completing tertiary institutions and therefore eligible to register for national service is outstripping the available places.

We have observed also how the management of the National Service Scheme (NSS) under the able leadership of Ussif Mustapha has introduced innovations to smoothen the process of engagement for the young graduates.

Unfortunately, the process has been bedeviled by unintended challenges which demand immediate attention through a policy redirection.

Mere posting of new graduates to establishments is no longer a guarantee of engagement by the receiving establishments. It is neither the fault of the NSS nor the establishments where they are posted to but the fallout from the system’s inability to create more employment avenues. Indeed sometime ago, there were possibilities of service personnel being absorbed by the recipient establishments. Today even being offered the opportunity to serve one’s country in existing establishments is proving a challenge let alone absorption at the end of it all.

There are establishments whose capacity for engaging service personnel is in the neighbourhood of twenty yet they are being saddled with two hundred prospective service personnel.

Some service personnel are told bluntly that the establishments have their own list of persons to engage.

Some establishments have resorted to organizing aptitude tests or examinations in Mathematics and English as an effective means of pruning the numbers.

The reality is that today national service has become a nightmare for not only young graduates but parents who are compelled to absorb the stress their children are going through.

Ghana has unfortunately had to make do with successive governments which did not create the enabling environments for the private sector to serve as an engine of growth of the economy and therefore not capable of absorbing the thousands of young graduates being churned out by our tertiary institutions.

A major policy paradigm shift is required to tackle the myriad of challenges the country is confronted with today. When President Akufo-Addo speaks on the public space about how he intends tackling the challenges, it is because he appreciates very well what is at stake.

The success of his agenda for job creation would define the future of the country. The issue of job creation in the country, it has now become glaring, is no longer restricted to the public sector which can no longer serve the employment needs of the country as it used to be but the private sector as has been noted many years ago but little has been done towards the realization of this objective.

These are critical moments in our history and the earlier we appreciate these and avoid the unproductive politicisation of issues, the closer we can come towards addressing this challenge.

A few days ago, we overheard the Minority segment of Parliament accusing the Finance Minister of massaging the fiscal figures as contained in his mid-year financial presentation in Parliament.

While we do not expect them to shower accolades for the effective manner in which the shattered economy is being treated, we are surprised that because of political leverage they have decided to ascribe criminality to the Finance Minister and by extension to the government.

They are surprised at the massive inroads being chalked by the government and therefore find it incredible so much can be achieved within this brief period and therefore feel comfortable at the feat chalked so far.

Even as the financial ailment is beginning to reverse, let government appreciate the challenges being faced by the youth as they search for places to do their service and an eventual employment.