Young People's Participation in Public Policy Formulation and Implementation: A Case Study of the National Youth Policy of Ghana

Jones Adu-Gyamfi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The African Youth Charter requires African countries to formulate and adopt an integrated national youth policy to address youth concerns. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Children’s Charter also confer on children and young people the right to participate in matters that concern them. This qualitative research adopted a social constructivist approach to examine young people’s participation as strategic stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of Ghana’s youth policy. The aim was to gain knowledge about the processes that facilitate or hinder young people’s participation in the policy process at national level. The study involved the use of semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with 20 stakeholders in the policy process; the study involved 4 policy makers, 3 lobbyists and 13 young people aged 15 – 17 years.
Questions that guided the study were: what is the extent of young people’s participation in the policy process; are there barriers to involving young people in the policy process; and what strategies were been used to promote young people’s participation in the policy process in Ghana. Findings showed discrepancy in the attitudes and behaviour of policy makers towards young people. For example, on one hand policy makers recognised young people’s right to participate but on the other hand they did not seek to involve young people in the policy process. The study identified a number of factors contributing to this discrepancy; from the perspectives of policy makers young people were not matured enough to take part in policy discussions, but from the perspectives of young people the policy process was highly politicised, hence their non-participation in political activities such as voting meant that they were not considered worth inviting to participate in policy discussions.
The study highlights a difference in the policy processes of developing and developed countries. Whereas in most developed countries the main area of contestation is the policy formulation stage, this study however shows that in a developing country like Ghana the main area of contestation is the policy implementation stage. Also, whereas young people had some level of participation in the formulation of the policy they were out rightly excluded from the policy implementation stage, leaving the young people to question the commitment of policy makers to engage young people in decision-making. In light of the dissonance between the theory and practice of participation, the study argues that to effectively involve young people in the policy process demands the granting of political capital to young people. The thesis concludes with a call for a rethink of the apolitical status usually ascribed to young people.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Keating, Frank, Supervisor
Award date1 Nov 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

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