The Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana), a youth development organisation on Thursday announced that it will be awarding grants of up to GH¢300,000.00 to teams of students in three universities in the country. It said the students would use the grants to implement initiatives of social change and social justice interventions either on their campuses or in the communities surrounding the universities to improve lives. The beneficiary universities included; the University for Development Studies (UDS), the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) and the University of Cape Coast (UCC). It made this announcement during an innovation fair held at the Dungu campus of UDS near Tamale to help recognise the efforts of students, trained under the Youth Leadership for Social Change Project.
The Youth Leadership for Social Change Project is a social change project aimed at training young people to become leaders of social change, to help identify social problems and design innovative ideas to solve the problems in communities. YES-Ghana would also be holding similar innovations fair events in the UENR on the 11th April and at UCC on 24th April 2019. The social change project is implemented by the YES-Ghana with funding from the Ford Foundation and in collaboration with the office of the Dean of Students’ Affairs of the three universities. Mr Eric Saforo, the Project Manager of the Youth Leadership for Social Change Project, in an interview with the media, said the project was an 18-month cycle project that offered opportunities to young people especially students to empower them with leadership skills and knowledge to identify and solve social problems surrounding or within their school.
He said the students went through a rigorous academy of training and placed into five different groups, with 12 members in each group, and tasked to identify social problems and come out with innovation ideas, through a proposal, on how to solve the problem. Mr Saforo said the groups proposed innovative ideas to the social problems they identified and would be facilitated and assessed by a proposal assessment committee comprising of faculty members and experienced development workers to assess the proposals to see their feasibility for implementation. “If their ideas are feasible, each group will get a grand of GH¢20,000.00 to start implementation” he said. Mr Saforo said this was also to help the students gain some experience during their struggle in the process of implementation, so as to learn and have experience on identifying a social problem and solving it not only by themselves, but with the communities in which they find themselves in future.
“YES-Ghana is doing this, so that when the students find themselves in higher positions in the future, they will be able to apply the knowledge and experience they acquired to help Ghana become a better place” he said. He said the activities undergoing today was the second cycle of work to be undertaken under the social change project and expressed satisfaction with the performance of the current groups in UDS as compared to the first cohort. Dr Paul Aryea, the Vice Dean of Students, UDS said it was the mandate of the University to blend academic work with community service and that the project was also facilitating the training of students as change agents to identify social problems in communities and come out with innovative ideas to solve them. Ms Fathiaya Zakaria, a student of the UDS and a beneficiary of the social change project said the project boosted her-self-confidence and improved on her knowledge and skills in identifying social issues and in proposal writing.
Story by – Rashid Mbugri
Source – Ghana News Agency