Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) and UNICEF are partnering to establish ten youth engagement centres in some selected libraries across the Country.
The libraries include; Tamale Metro Library, Accra Central Library, Ashanti Regional Library, Bolgatanga Branch Library, Effutu Municipal Library, Cape Coast Library, Eastern Regional Library, Western Regional Library, Upper West Regional Library and the Tema Branch Library.
The Partnership was marked with a launch and handover of about 20 laptops and 10 printers on Tuesday in Accra.
Mr. Hayford Siaw, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GhLA, said discussions on establishing the engagement Centres for the Ghanaian youth started in the early part of this year with UNICEF, after recognizing the need to impact Ghanaians with digital, entrepreneurial and advocacy skills and empower them with opportunities to reduce the unemployment.
He said the centres would create a supportive environment for young people to freely express themselves and equip them with skills to live responsible and productive lives.
The ten libraries, Mr. Siaw said, were strategically selected out of the 103 public libraries in Ghana, after a thorough assessment of their infrastructure and environment conducive to grooming talents and skills of the Ghanaian youth.
He said the GhLA, over the past few years, had been engaging young people and providing avenues to equip themselves with knowledge and skills.
“One of the opportunities created was the Read2Skill programme. Our collaboration with Commonwealth of Learning allows Ghanaians to have access to various courses on MOOCs platforms such as Coursera, Udemy and Google, and earn free certificates.
“A week ago, through a partnership with Absa bank Ghana we launched the ‘ReadytoWork’ project, which seeks to provide online learning opportunities for young people to acquire money, entrepreneurial, work, and people skills. All these are in line with the GhLA’s theme for the year 2021, which is to ‘Eliminating learning poverty through library services’ and our declaration for this year as the Year of Literacy,” he said.
The CEO said for these skills to be harnessed in a library environment, there was the need to constantly improve on the state of libraries.
Thus, forty-nine public libraries have been renovated so far.
He said the partnership would enable UNICEF to bring together key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, educational institutions and youth organisations to co-develop an investment roadmap for Ghana’s youth.
Mr. Flachra McAsey, Deputy Representative, UNICEF, said the programme would be implemented over the next 12 months in eight regions of Ghana and in library spaces that were digitally connected.
He said over the period, the Centres would directly support at least ten thousand young Ghanaians aged 14 years to 24 years to develop digital and entrepreneurship skills by accessing free online courses.
It would also enable them to have regular peer-to-peer learning and support sessions within their community.
He said, “UNICEF is pleased to partner with the GhLA on this initiative and both teams have engaged in the co-design of the programme”.
Mr. McAsey said they looked forward to learning from the implementation of the programme and working to advance skilling and employment opportunities for young Ghanaians.
He lauded Louis Vuitton, a French fashion house and luxury goods company, for their support and generous contribution to the initiative.
The Centres, he said, would organise engagements with industry leaders and mid-career professionals, providing career guidance and mentorship support to strengthen young people’s employability skills and give them access to tools to build their communication and advocacy skills.
He said young people would not only have access to various skilling and development programs but several others would play active roles as centre managers, advisors, community mobilizers, and content co-creators.
Madam Ursula Birago Yeboah, Project Manager of the Youth Engagement Centres, said GhLA’s vision was to connect every Ghanaian to learning resources.
Therefore, it always implemented initiatives and partnerships with stakeholders who shared a common goal to improve literacy among young people.
She said the Centres would focus on three thematic areas, namely; developing the digital, entrepreneurial and advocacy skills of the youth, promoting peer-to-peer learning and providing mentorship and job-matching support.