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12 reasons Bawumia's pledge to make National Service optional may be a bad idea

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has ignited a debate with his pledge to make National Service optional for Ghanaian graduates if elected president.

12 reasons Bawumia's pledge to make National Service optional is a bad idea

Bawumia's proposal, delivered during an address in Accra on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, aims to overhaul the current national service scheme and offer graduates greater flexibility in their career paths.

According to him, graduates who secure jobs after completing their education would be exempted from mandatory national service. This proposal marks a departure from the longstanding requirement of a one-year National Service, which has been mandatory by law, with graduates without proof of completion barred from employment or taking up any public office.

While Bawumia emphasized the need to support youth employment and promote campus recruitment drives by companies, critics have raised concerns about the potential consequences of making national service optional. Some analysts argue that such a move could have negative implications for both graduates and the country as a whole.

Despite ongoing debates regarding the necessity of national service, it's crucial to acknowledge its benefits to both graduates and the nation:

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Benefits of National Service to the Graduate:

1. Skill Development: Engaging in national service provides graduates with opportunities to acquire practical skills, teamwork, leadership, and communication abilities that are essential for personal and professional growth.

2. Work Experience: Participation in national service offers valuable real-world work experience, enhancing graduates' resumes and increasing their attractiveness to potential employers.

3. Networking Opportunities: Through national service, graduates build relationships with diverse individuals, including fellow volunteers and community members, fostering valuable networking connections for their future careers.

4. Civic Engagement: National service promotes civic engagement and a sense of responsibility to one's community and country, encouraging graduates to actively contribute to societal needs and create positive change.

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5. Personal Growth: By stepping out of their comfort zones and overcoming challenges during national service, graduates experience personal growth, developing confidence, resilience, and self-awareness.

6. Fulfillment and Purpose: Many graduates find fulfilment and purpose in national service, as it allows them to make meaningful contributions to society and positively impact the lives of others.

Benefits of National Service to the Country:

Beyond individual benefits, national service plays a crucial role in national development:

1. Addressing Critical Needs: National service programs address pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges, contributing to national development goals such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

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2. Strengthening Social Cohesion: National service fosters unity and solidarity among individuals from diverse backgrounds, promoting social cohesion and national unity.

3. Building Human Capital: National service enhances the employability and skills of individuals, contributing to human capital development and economic growth.

4. Promoting Civic Engagement: By encouraging citizens to actively participate in civic life, national service strengthens democracy and encourages citizen involvement in addressing societal challenges.

5. Fostering a Culture of Service: National service instils values of altruism and social responsibility, contributing to the development of a caring and compassionate society.

6. Enhancing National Security: National service programs play a role in national security by instilling patriotism and readiness to respond to emergencies, contributing to national resilience.

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In light of these benefits, concerns about the potential consequences of making national service optional are legitimate. Such a move could diminish the personal and societal benefits of national service, jeopardizing both individual development and national progress.

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