Accepted paper:

In search of a (new) purpose? An analysis of Ghana's National Service Scheme (NSS)


Abdul-Gafar Oshodi (Lagos State University)

Paper short abstract:

To promote national unity and development, African countries introduced youth service programmes. Using in-depth interviews and surveys, our paper interrogates the extent to which Ghana's National Service Scheme (NSS) - one of the oldest in Africa - contributes to national unity and development.

Paper long abstract:

From the 1960s, many African countries have introduced a range of measures and policies aimed at strengthening national unity and integration. One of the most common policies in this respect was the introduction of national service programmes. Despite the fact that many African countries currently have an active national service programme of some sort, which often cost a significant amount of public money, almost no research has been conducted on assessing the relevance of these programmes for promoting national unity or achieving some other developmental or political objective in contemporary Africa. Our paper addresses this issue head-on by analysing the impact and relevance of Ghana's National Service Scheme (NSS); i.e. one of the oldest and largest programmes on the continent. We have used a mixed-method approach to data collection, which consisted of conducting 50 semi-structured interviews with Ghanaian politicians and NSS officials as well as conducting an online perceptions survey among 1,374 recent participants in the NSS programme. The main finding of our analysis was that both policymakers and participants considered the NSS programme to still be very relevant for Ghana, but not necessarily for the reasons for which the NSS was established in 1973.

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panel P051
Youth-led leadership and participation in Africa