Uploaded by Keziah Acquah

Essay - Keziah Acquah

Problem Solving, A Learning Tool for Young People
Jose Rizal said, “The youth is the hope of Africa.” Africa needs an assertive, strong
generation who can contribute and lead change, in the face of emerging global challenges, to
build a better, stronger Africa (Umor, 2016). Young people represent the survival of every
country as they are the strong and active citizens of the country. They are the nation builders and
very important for a nation’s success. Developing young people or the youth to be problem
solvers is very necessary in the sustainability of a country, if they are not able to solve problems,
then they cannot be the hope of their nation because being the hope of your nation implies that
you are eligible or possible to solve the nation’s problems. Herbert Hoover stated clearly that
“Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” People might say that the
only way to develop young people is to provide them with education. Empowering young
people to be problem solvers does not only involve providing them with education but also
engaging them in problem solving activities such as decision making in the family, youth
development programs as well as including design thinking as a course in their educational
curriculum to boost their problem-solving skills.
In our daily lives, we are always approached with problems directly or indirectly but our
ability to solve them is what changes it. We might just wake up from bed and realize that our
provider has just passed away, we have lost the only money left on us for food and when that
happens, we tend to be faced with a problem as to how to feed. Solving problems is very vital, if
we are not able to solve them, they tend to hunt us. Just look at a young girl who is being faced
with the problem of teenage pregnancy, if she does not get anyone to talk to, she might end up
committing suicide because she might feel her whole life is shuttered hence no need for living.
Providing young people with the access to learn and acquire knowledge is the best but
what value is that knowledge if they graduate without even knowing how to be independent, how
to solve basic problems pertaining their lives or even use their educational skills to solve the
problem they find around them much less Africa. Regardless of the measures used, too many
Africans become unemployed after graduating from college and universities (Banerjee, Galiani,
Levinsohn, McLaren, & Woolard, 2008). Have we considered this case? We always put the
blame on government but on a closer look the government has nothing to do with this because
there are private firms which are willing to employ these young people provided they have the
requisite skills. Young people who graduate from school are only aware of the theory aspect of
their major. They are not exposed to the practical aspect of their major so when they graduate,
they tend not to be fit for employment because what is being taught in schools is far different
from the corporate world (Casner-Lotto & Barrington, 2006). In the corporate world, application
of the theory learnt is what is needed.
In the educational curriculum of most young people, design thinking as a course is not
included. Design Thinking is a process used in solving problems (Lockwood, 2002). Young
people, in their various schools, are not taught anything regarding problem solving. They do not
know what problem solving is and why they should be problem solvers. This ends them not
being able to solve basic problems as they are not aware of how they should go about it. How
then, can providing education to them help them be problem solvers if they are not given the
basic lessons on how to be problem solvers and why they should be problem solvers?
However, including design thinking as a course in their educational curriculum enables
them to be problem solvers. It boosts their problem-solving skills they become exposed to
solving problems, how to solve them and why they should be able to solve problems (Mauricio,
2012). Being exposed to design thinking enables them to think outside the categories in their
brain when faced with a problem. Problem solving is all about being able to think outside your
brain when being faced with that problem as this helps you to have a wider view of the problem
and provide possible ways of solving that problem (Adomdza & McCarthy, 2016). Design
thinking is a helpful tool that enables one to solve problems critically. In solving problems,
understanding the meanings your users put to the various problems is very key. Providing
solutions to problems needs to satisfy the meanings the users of your solution put to that
problem, if their meaning of how the problem is to be solved is A and you provide them with a
solution B, their satisfactions will not be met and due to that they will not accept your solution.
This is what design thinking as a course does. It enables the problem solver understand how his
user put meanings to the solution of a problem. Including design thinking as a course, in the
educational structure of the youth enables them to understand the process in solving a problem
and provide a better solution to the problems they come across in Africa.
Also, engaging young people in problem solving activities enables them to solve
problems more effectively (Kweifio-Okai, 2016). Most parents consider their children immature
to solve problems, due to that they tend to send them away when they are solving problems
pertaining the family. Consider this scenario; a hen when searching for food carries her chicks
with her. As she cuts the soil for food for her chicks to eat, her chicks also cut the soil searching
for food. The chick looks at how her mum cuts the soil in search for food and deploys the same
method. As it grows to a stage where it needs to cater for itself, the mother does not go with it in
search of food. They both go their separate ways. From studies, as the chick grows to be
independent it can find its own food. If it hadn’t been around while its mum searches for food, do
we think it would have been able to fend for itself? Engaging the young ones in problem solving
activities does not cause harm to them but rather develops them mentally so that when faced in a
similar problem such as that it will be able to solve it ( Dwight, 2012). Not only a similar
problem, but as far as they are aware of the techniques in solving a problem, they will be able to
solve any problem that comes their way and even that of Africa. “Youth participation: the active,
informed and voluntary involvement of young people in decision-making and the life of their
communities, both locally and globally is vital if this is to be achieved” (DFID, 2000).
Some people have the perception that developing young people to solve Africa’s problem
is very difficult but there are more ways to make this dream a reality. Developing young people
is not difficult as it is claimed to be. Providing guidance and mentorship programs to young
people enhance their development process ( Dwight, 2012). Let us ask ourselves this questions,
are we always available for them when they need us? Do we provide their needs and listen to
their voice? Even if we do listen to their voice, do we carry out what they voice out to us?
“Youth leadership programs build on solid youth development principles, with an emphasis on
those development and program components that support youth leadership” (NCWD, 2015).
Most Parents these days go to work very early, leaving their wards in the hands of their maids.
Have we ever wondered if what the maid is teaching them is going to help their development
process? Young people need guidance from their parents, leaders, mentors and other people they
hold relevant in their lives. They need attention, if they are being provided with these they tend
to be well developed hence enabling them to be problem solvers. “Building self-advocacy and
self-determination skills, an important aspect of leadership development for youth with
disabilities, correlates with making a successful transition to adulthood hence providing aid to
solve Africa’s problems” (NCWD, 2015).
Furthermore, young people need centers like: recreational facilities, youth development
and leadership programs, youth self-discovery and the others to enhance their development
process. Research supports the premise that both youth development and leadership programs
positively shape the growth of young people with and without disabilities. Youth leadership
programs build on solid youth development principles, with an emphasis on those development
and program components that support youth ( Dwight, 2012). Providing the youth with security,
a sense of belonging, instilling values in them, good relationship and motivation enables them to
developed and hence ideal for solving the problems in Africa.
In addition, encouraging young people to try new things and learn about themselves
enables them to discover and practice their interests and skills, test their independence, and take
control of their lives and when this happens they become fully developed to take over their
problems and that of Africa (Croymans, 2016).
Indeed, developing young people to solve problems in Africa is not just providing them
with education but rather including design thinking as a course in their educational curriculum,
engaging them in problem solving activities, providing them the support, encouragement and
youth development programs also serves as a major factor. Young people are the pride of Africa
hence developing them is very necessary.
Adomdza, G. & McCarthy, C. (2016) The Whys and the How’s. Foundations of Design
and Entrepreneurship Lecture Notes.
Bamber, J. (2013). Developing the creative and innovative potential of young people
through non-formal learning in ways that are relevant to employability. Europe:
Structured Dialogue Compilation Report.
Banerjee et al., “Why Has Unemployment Risen in the New South Africa?” Retrieved from
Wiley Online Library http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.14680351.2008.00340.x/abstract.
Casner-Lotto and Barrington (2006). Are They Really Ready to Work? US: Partnership for 21st
Century Skills.
Croymans, (15 March 2016). “Healthy Living.” Retrieved from
Lockwood Thomas, (2002). Fast Company Limited.
Dwight, (2012) Tuesday, February 2, 2016) Social News.
Kweifio-Okai, (2016). Five steps to put young people at the heart of development. The
Guardian. Retrieved from
Mauricio, V. (August, 2012). “Design Thinking” London: MJV.
Umor Mmanti, (2016). “African Youth, The Solution to Africa’s Challenges.” The Huffington
Post Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mmanti-umoh/african-youth-thesolution_b_9083530.html