ACCRA—The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has emphasized the necessity of investing in human capital to ensure that the growing youth population of Ghana can access and leverage opportunities effectively.
According to Ghana News Agency, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for West Africa, and Quentin Wodon, Director of the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (UNESCO IICBA), the 2021 Population and Housing Census showed that 38 percent of Ghana’s population is classified as youth. However, the statement, released on the occasion of Africa Youth Day, pointed out that many young people are reaching adulthood without adequate investments in their human capital.
The UNESCO statement referenced the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, which is predicated on six variables assessing children’s development, progress, education, and health, all of which are factors contributing to productivity in adulthood. It noted that a child born in Ghana today is projected to achieve just 44 percent of their potential productivity if education and health were at optimal levels.
Further to this, the statement highlighted United Nations statistics predicting that by 2050, Africa could account for a quarter of the world’s population. The resulting youth bulge presents significant challenges but also considerable opportunities.
Insights from recent Afrobarometer survey analyses by UNESCO IICBA indicated a public willingness in Ghana to support higher government taxation if it leads to investments in the youth population. Over half of the survey respondents expressed support for such taxation, with preferred areas of investment being job creation, education, job training, business loans, and social services, including health and drugs. Meanwhile, a segment of respondents opposed the idea.
Concluding the statement, UNESCO advocated for enhancements in basic services and other sectors as essential measures to provide youth with the opportunities they merit and require for a productive future.