August 11, 2014

A Deputy Minister for Education in-charge of tertiary, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has revealed that the National Service Act 426 is in the process of being reviewed to include compulsory military training for all service personnel.

The Act, since its inception, has not been revised and has outdated clauses, hence the decision to review it.

The Deputy Minister made this known at the 14th stakeholders’ conference of the National Service Scheme, which was held under the theme “Training Entrepreneurial and Employable Youth for National Development-The Role of the Ghana National Service Scheme and Stakeholders.”

He disclosed that a committee has been set up to study the Act 426 because a careful look at the Act indicates some provisions which have not been followed to the letter for about 34 years.

Mr. Ablakwa said per the National Service Act, the national service should be undertaken under a two-year period.

It also states that there should be six months compulsory military training.

He said he is highly convinced that it is time for a national discourse on the military training component spelt out in the National Service Act.

“It is becoming increasingly imperative that we consider this compulsory military training. Even if it cannot be done within the two-year period as it had originally been envisaged by the 1980 Act, if it can be done within six months or three months of the one year, it will be helpful,” he explained.

Mr. Ablakwa also suggested an entrepreneurial model be added to the programme to support graduates who undertake national service.

He noted that most of the graduates have exceptional ideas which could be developed into businesses.

“Some of them [service personnel] even start when they are in school, they get their companies registered, they have their ideas and they are ready to run with it,” he said.

According to him, the existing practice where all graduates are posted to “somebody’s company,” stunts the growth of graduates with business ideas.

Mr. Ablakwa mentioned that such persons need to be encouraged to pursue their dreams.

The Ghana National Service Scheme was established in 1973 by a Military Decree (N. R. C. D 208), with the mandate to mobilize and deploy Ghanaian citizens of 18 years and above, especially newly qualified University graduates, on national priority development programmes that contribute to improving the quality of life of the ordinary Ghanaian for a one year mandatory national service.

The Scheme was later given statutory legitimacy under the 1979 Constitution of Ghana, with the thrust of N.R.C.D 208 being upheld.

The National Service Act of 1980, Act 426 was then promulgated and passed by the Parliament of Ghana to give legal and constitutional backing to the scheme.

The mandate of the Scheme remained the same and the duration of service was extended from one to two years under this Act.

The Act, which was brought into force in 1982, further stipulated a six-month military orientation for the service personnel to instill in them a sense of discipline, patriotism and a culture of hard work.

In 1997, a Cabinet decision reduced the duration of the service to one year following a recommendation from the Ministry of Education which has oversight responsibilities over the Scheme.

The Scheme has since been operating on the provisions of Act 426 of 1980 which provides the legal framework and direction for programme design and implementation.

The Scheme, since its inception has become the institutional option for the Ghanaian youth, especially tertiary education graduates, to exercise their civic responsibility towards the state through service.