- On May 28, 2020
By Obaa Akua Konadu, YES-Ghana
It is widely acknowledged that the MDGs did not facilitate sufficient youth participation in its design, implementation and monitoring. In response, the SDGs provide a fresh opportunity for young people in securing their inclusion in the global development framework.
Despite the prioritization of young people as key actors in the implementation of the SDGs, several polls and surveys by CSOs suggested low levels of awareness and knowledge of the SDGs among the youth.
To address this, the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana), the Co-convener for the Youth Sub-platform of the Ghana CSOs Platform on SDGs, organized the SDG Youth Essay Competition, an activity under the SDG Youth Action Campaign.
Building from the maiden edition in 2017, the 2019 edition was on the topic ‘SDG 4 enjoins Ghana to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. In your view, how can this objective be achieved in your community by 2030?’ A total of 549 out of the 558 entries were shortlisted after careful assessment of the eligibility of participants from 79 senior high schools across the 10 administrative regions. This represents 61 % female and 39% male.
The second level assessment, which focused on the general understanding of participants on the SDGs, saw the selection of top 20 applicants. The event, held on Legon campus on 28th August 2019, saw all 20 students in the company of their teachers and relatives, poised to be crowned the “2019 SDG Youth Essay Competition Winner.”
At the end of the assessment, Yolanda Amankwaah Danso, a student of St. Louis Senior High School, Kumasi, won the contest with an amount of GH¢5,000. Regina Koranteng of Mfantsiman Girls’ Senior High School, Saltpond, placed second and won GH¢3,000. Caroline Kyeremateng, a student of Anglican Senior High School, Kumasi, taking the third place and won GH¢1,000. Chleo-Patra Azantilow of St. Louis Senior High School, Kumasi, and Joshua Ogyemoko Baleto of the Achimota School placed fourth and fifth respectively, bagging GH¢500 each. Students and chaperones, especially award winners, were visibly excited and expressed their appreciation to the organizers.
“Thank you very much, YES-Ghana, for organizing such a wonderful event. I never knew my daughter was this confident! I was so proud just listening to her talk about such complex issues. You should organize this competition every year,” an ecstatic parent remarked.
The essay competition enabled students in second cycle institutions to have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the SDGs. For some of the top 20 participants, the competition first introduced them to the SDGs. For others, it allowed them to read extensively about the goals to enable them to express their perspectives on them.
“I heard about the SDGs when you (project team) visited our school. But this competition allowed me to read deeper into it. I have more knowledge of the goals than my colleagues. I will educate them more when I get back to school,” – said one of the top 20 students.
All participants, particularly, the top 5 were urged to act as SDG ambassadors, create and increase awareness about the SDGs to their peers and others in their spheres of influence.
Through this initiative, we hope to demystify global and national frameworks to the youth, to enable them to engage meaningfully in their implementation. It is expected that the documentation of these ideas will provide youth perspectives on critical development issues.
Drawing inspiration from Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals), the SDG Youth Essay Competition was organized successfully due to the generous contribution and support from institutions such as the Ghana CSOs Platform on SDGs, especially the Secretariat and the Youth Sub-platform and partner radio stations across the country.
The SDG Youth Action Campaign is implemented by YES-Ghana, in partnership with 100% for the Children and funded by the Civil Society in Development, Denmark.