President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced government’s intention to present a draft policy framework before Parliament for consideration to elevate the National Service Scheme (NSS) to the status of an Authority.
This is expected to improve the efficiency and impact of the country’s national service programme.
He made the disclosure during the launch and commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the NSS at UPSA, in Accra yesterday. The year-long celebration is under the theme “NSS at 50: Repositioning the Scheme for a Sustainable National Development”.
Activities lined up include lectures, funding summit, blood donation, clean-up exercise, tree-planting, corporate social responsibility project, launch of the Golden Jubilee Magazine, among others.
President Akufo-Addo highlighted the importance of the NSS in the development of Ghana, and emphasised the need for comprehensive reform to meet the evolving demands of the programme.
He stated that the proposed upgrade to an Authority would not only enhance the administration of national service, but also elevate its effectiveness in contributing to national development.
He revealed that a draft policy framework was being prepared for presentation to Parliament, to followed by legislative work to convert the NSS into an Authority. This transformation, he noted, aims to expand the scope and structure of the NSS, aligning it with emerging global trends and fostering a sense of patriotism, nationalism, volunteerism, and discipline among the youth.
He said one significant aspect of the proposed reform is that it will give a backing to the “deployment for employment” mission statement. This initiative aims to encourage young graduates to actively contribute to Ghana’s long-term development agenda.
President Akufo-Addo believes that fine-tuning the NSS’s operations will help address the employment needs of fresh graduates, and provide them with enhanced training and skills development opportunities.
The President commended Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi, the Executive Director of the NSS, for his visionary leadership and innovative ideas. Since 2017, approximately 800,000 service personnel have been deployed across various sectors of the economy, supporting the mainstream workforce in fulfilling its responsibilities.
He called on the NSS leadership to give serious consideration to key sectors such as health, agriculture, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and other technical areas relevant to the nation’s development. He assured the NSS of the government’s unwavering support for its sustainable growth and development.
The President also commended the Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, for his unwavering support and responsible oversight of the Scheme’s reorganisation drive.
He emphasised the historical significance of the NSS, highlighting its accomplishments and challenges over the years. He praised the Scheme for its role in mobilizing the youth for higher education and service to the country, making Ghana the first country in Africa to establish such programs.
President Akufo-Addo took a trip down memory lane, recounting the establishment of the NSS in 1973 by General I.K. Acheampong, the then Head of State and Chairman of the National Redemption Council (NRC). He praised the NSS for providing structured service roles and direction for the country’s young graduates during a period of economic stagnation.
For his part, the Executive Director of the NSS, Osei Assibey Antwi, discussed the potential impact of a pending bill that, when approved and passed into law by Parliament, would empower the NSS to make major decisions to revolutionise its operations.
According to him, this would strategically position the Scheme to harness the potential of the youth for national development while relieving the government’s financial burden.
He said over the past four years, the NSS had leveraged digitalisation to improve on service delivery. For instance, he said, through the introduction of a facial recognition metric application, the scheme was able to detect 14,000 ineligible people on the payroll, saving the nation GH¢112m.
Additionally, through an electronic platform created by the scheme, tertiary institutions could now submit the list of students for national service with ease, he said. On youth unemployment, Mr Antwi called for strategic partnerships between the NSS and other institutions to build the capacity of young graduates to acquire employable skills.
He said as part of the deployment for employment agenda, the Scheme had implemented modules, including a short teaching programme for service persons posted to educational establishments, youth in housing, macro, small and medium-size enterprises, accounting aid, data and research, as well as youth in agriculture.
On agriculture, he said, the Scheme is focused on mechanised farming to attract young graduates into the sector. Mr Assibey Antwi hinted that the Scheme was cultivating some 20, 000 acres of land at the Sekyere-Kumawu economic enclave for agricultural purposes.
The project and other initiatives, especially in the tourism industry, built environment, among others, were yielding positive results, he noted.
He asked the Service persons to work hard for the growth of the Scheme. “We are ready to support national development. I am happy to share in the joy of the National Service Scheme to commemorate 50th anniversary of its establishment. I applaud the Board and Management of the Scheme for putting up this occasion to celebrate the jubilee anniversary,” he added.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, provided valuable advice, urging the NSS to align its activities with the nation’s development agenda as it continues its journey into the next 50 years of service to Ghana.
He called on leaders of institutions to play an active role in nurturing and mentoring NSS personnel during their service year, ensuring that they acquire the skills and values necessary for nation-building. Mr Bagbin also stressed the need for the government to allocate sufficient resources to support the NSS’s mission.