Creation of jobs for youth through entrepreneurial development in Ghana

Guest blog by Osman Haruna Tweneboah

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

My expectations for signing up for the programme

I was actually excited to start the IPP programme at Harvard Kennedy School not only because of the brand name of the School, the popularity and the international respect accorded to the School, but I was also looking for a solution to my policy challenge. My policy challenge revolves around, “the creation of jobs through entrepreneurial development for the youth”. The IPP programme actually provided me with the tools not only overcoming the problem but also learning.  Upon commencement of the programme, I thought I was going to learn through the usual theoretical way, little did I know and believe that the course was very practical and interesting, though rigorous and time consuming.

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Addressing Youth Unemployment in Ghana through PDIA

Guest blog by Afua Gyekyewaa

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

Introduction
The Youth Employment Agency (YEA) of Ghana was created specifically to address the issue of youth unemployment. In 2006 when the Agency was created, the unemployment rate especially among the youth was very high. Facing this challenge, the government set up the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now YEA, to find a solution to the problem, albeit as a stop-gap measure. The jobs that were created had two- year duration and not permanent solutions. With a new government came a new management. This new management’s vision is to find permanent solutions to the youth unemployment problem in the country. The Agency wants to do this by creating more sustainable jobs for the youth and moving away from the two-year temporary jobs. Now the challenge is, creating sustainable jobs is alien to the Agency. There are no laid down structures and processes neither are there any concepts to follow.

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Youth unemployment in South Africa

Guest blog by Denver Moses

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

The past 10 weeks participating in the LEG have signaled a period of personal and professional growth. Being part of a global online learning environment was a massive shift from my previous learning experiences which were almost entirely based on face-to-face teaching and group learning exercises. I have engaged in studies with professionals from the African continent, but this was my first exposure to such a diverse student population. Orientation to this approach took a few weeks but being part of a smaller peer learning group assisted greatly with the immersion into the course’s content and participatory dynamics.

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A Hands-on Deconstruction of Youth Unemployment in Kenya

Guest blog by Moses Sitati

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

When I received a work email asking for my interest in taking the Leading Economic Growth course, I quickly had a look and was not entirely sure that it was the one for me. I did some quick mental calculation to check whether it made sense for me to devote scarce extra hours from my heavily stretched bandwidth for a 10 week period – I am so glad that it did.

Applying to the program required sharing an economic growth challenge that you intended to work during the program. This was very practical for me as I had just been co-leading a multi-disciplinary team at USAID/Kenya and East Africa in developing a five-year strategy to address youth unemployment. We had set ourselves a purpose to increase economically productive opportunities for young women and young men in Kenya and to empower them to actively engage in these opportunities. I reasoned that the course could be useful in providing new ways to analyze this challenge, and potentially offer solutions for me to think about. I would soon to find out that application of the theory and ideas taught in the course was designed as the primary learning arena for the program.

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An insightful journey to self-discovery and public policy effectiveness in Haiti

Guest blog by John Miller Beauvoir

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

As a field-tested international development professional who crisscrossed 15 countries in Africa and in the Americas to support policy implementation, I carry my fair share of disillusion, cynicism and frustration regarding the slow pace of change and the lack of effectiveness of foreign aid. This is a matter of significant concern that led me to pursue my master degree in international development, with an emphasis on the implementation of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action.

From the hot and arid villages of Niger to the valleys and mountains of Haiti, I witnessed first-hand the shortcomings of conventional wisdom and orthodoxy when it comes to public policy formulation and implementation in complex settings fraught with unknowns and uncertainty. I was very eager to explore new ways of conceptualizing and implementing public policies beyond “plan and control” and the rigid approaches that are blatantly inappropriate for countries with ever-changing political and social contexts. Moreover, having read a great book entitled “Politics and Policy implementation in the Third World”, I was convinced that policy implementation professionals must take into account the political economy and the overall  ecosystem of intervention for context-specific, targeted approach to policy-making.

 I was ready for out-of-the box solutions. And this is exactly what the Harvard Kennedy School’s IPP program delivered.

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Encouraging Nigeria’s youth to engage in agribusiness

Guest blog written by Abubakar Murtala Mohammad

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

The understanding of Public Policy Implementation became a necessity for me after my appointment as the Senior Special Assistant on SDGs to the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Nigeria. My career path has, up till then been in the Private sector where the main aim is profiteering as against the Social services for communal purpose of the public sector. My first instinct for success is to equip myself with the requisite Public Policy knowledge. This is with a view to reduce the incidence of Policy failure on all my assigned duties.

There is no better place for this learning process than the IPP Program as offered by Harvard Executive Program which I immediately applied for, and when I got admitted, my excitement was beyond measure.

I have attended quite a few Executive Education courses, mostly as in-person events. I therefore commenced the IPP Online program with a mixed feeling as regards to the content, engagement, and fluidity of knowledge transferability. I discovered, some weeks into the program, that the IPP Online is a well-structured program with engagement as close to an in-person experience, but only better-thanks to Salimah and Amber. The program is intense as well as extensive with a caution for ‘burn-out.’ A good use of feedback mechanism is encouraged throughout the duration of the program. Thumps up Ms Anisha Poobalan, my TA for interactive feedback and encouragement.

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Stop, Look, and Listen! Preventing Recruitment of Youth into Illicit Activities in Southern Colombia

Guest blog written by Cameron Berkuti, Christina Schultz, Diana Acuña, Juan Pablo Castaño, Kelly Brooks, Susan Kemp

This team successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in December 2018. This is their story.

As development practitioners, we tend to rush in with solutions to deal with complex problems. We impose so-called best practices without digging deep to uncover the roots of a problem due to donor demands and other pressures to show short-term gains. However, acknowledging that a problem is “complex” means that we first need to step back and give ourselves room to figure out how to achieve sustainable impact. We found this to be the case when confronting the problem of youth recruitment in Vaparaiso, Colombia, where we applied problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA).

In post-conflict Colombia, following half a century of civil strife, youth in municipalities previously controlled by the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are experiencing an emerging threat to their well-being. Violent groups that benefit from illicit activities, such as drug trafficking and illegal mining, are taking advantage of the power vacuum, left by the demobilization of the FARC, by coercing youth to join their ranks. The small, isolated municipality of Valparaiso, with a population of nearly 12,000, is no exception. Lack of trust in the judicial system and local authorities to bring perpetrators to justice and prevent retaliation has led to a severe underreporting of this phenomena. The mayor’s office and family services are responsible for preventing youth recruitment. The municipality is further hampered by limited budget resources, administrative capacity, and information to comply with its obligations regarding prevention and response to recruitment.

This is clearly a “wicked hard” problem that we had been contemplating from six different chairs in Colombia and remotely from the US. The first task we took on was that we stopped and conducted an initial problem analysis to agree on what exactly we were trying to solve. This consisted of constructing the problem – the municipal government of Valparaiso did not have the capacity and resources to deal with this emerging critical concern of youth recruitment. We subsequently deconstructed this seeming intractable issue by reaching out to stakeholders, looking at available (although scarce) data, and continually asking “why”. We discovered a range of root causes, from law enforcement still being conducted from a military perspective to a deteriorating social fabric. Mapping out the sub-causes only further confirmed that the problem could not be solved in one go. Rather than being overwhelmed by this complexity, we realized that there was ample space in authority, acceptance, and ability that provided us an entry point in one root cause – local government, schools, parents and others did not see the value in engaging youth in solving their own problems. Continue reading Stop, Look, and Listen! Preventing Recruitment of Youth into Illicit Activities in Southern Colombia