E³ Summit — Earth, Economy, Equity — My experience + afterthoughts

E³ Summit represents one of the largest global demonstrations of youth leadership and activism for the SDGs. I was on the OPEN FORUM: ECONOMY — EFFECTIVE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AND INNOVATION AS A KEY TO A WORLDWIDE ECONOMIC BLOOM ALONGSIDE KENNETH KWOK, MARTIN STAVENHAGEN, AND AURORA CHISTE.

What an amazing way to start my Saturday morning. Learnt a lot but also shared my thoughts on “effective youth employment and innovation as a key to a worldwide economic boom”.

I believe firmly that highly educated highly creative young people are one of the key ingredients to an economic boom. But we shouldn’t treat the youth as consumers in the economy but as co-creators. When we were young we love to create, we love to make things, draw and draw inspiration from our imagination. it made us excited, made us feel like we are in control of our lives but as we grew older school systems taught us to focus on theory and not on its applications.

We all can remember from when we were in school. Our teachers taught us the concept of multiplication and then asked us to answer an application question about math using that concept. In doing so, they focused on our ability to recall the right answer but did not focus on our ability to figure out a context for applying it.

We haven’t defined what education is for the youth today. It’s not teaching kids how to read and write, history, science and math. That’s just a side effect of being a student. Our treatment of education has been top-down driven by a rigid model that’s a leftover from the industrial revolution. We’ve forced schools to work on a factory assembly line model that forces students into a box. The box is the educational box created by academia where the goal of education is to get an A.

We need to redefine what education really is. It is not so much of trying to dump information into the minds of the youth but to co-create in an open dialogue format what type of education we want to see. Young people are creative by design, so we need to amplify that and not silence them with our own ideas. I think of things as a merging landscape, where we learn from each other to produce rich experiences and a booming economy as a result of our learning and relearning.

This is part of why I am passionate about connecting education to real-world experience. I believe we are truly educated when we can apply theory in action, document our learnings and share that with someone else in the form of a service, a kind gesture, or just offering value.

In 2013 I started sustainable agriculture clubs in Universities in Ghana called “Agripro” and it was active in some of the top universities in Ghana, including the University of Ghana, KNUST, University of Cape Coast, Central University College, and Ashesi University. The goal was to encourage students to implement sustainable food-related projects in Ghana.

Also started a Tech training school in 2017 focusing on providing job worthy tech skills to people who could not afford it. To date, we have trained over 3500 people. The goal is to train 50, 000 people in the next 10 years.

In the end, we need to create an environment where creativity thrives. We need to make young people comfortable to create and pursue their ideas.