Unemployment in Nigeria, is a time bomb waiting to explode if effective interventions are not put in place to curb its unsavoury impact. In this interview with Blessing Bature, president general, UNESCO Read and Earn Federation, Prince Abdulsalami Ladigbolu, reveals how this can be tackled.
Can you tell us some of the programmes you are into now that address the national issue of unemployment?
We are into UNESCO TAP Project, Project V Nigeria and enhancing of Reading culture.
Tell us more about the projects?
The UNESCO TAP Project, also known as the August Project, a decade youth developmental programme launched on August 15, 2017 in Abuja, is tailored to address the factors causing the rise of unemployment in the country and to strategically reduce the number of unemployed youth by empowering 1,200,000 Nigerian youth in various asset-based programmes that would result to high level networking organisations, to create more decent jobs and economic growth through three critical areas which are Intellectual Capacity Building (ICB), Economic Capacity Building (ECB) and Leadership Capacity Building (LCB).
How will this project make an impact among the youth and the country at large?
Research has shown that the motivation and concentration levels of people, most especially the young ones, are much higher in informal youth programme than they are in school (or when hanging out with friends), suggesting an untapped power in youth development programmes that can positively impact performances. The UNESCO Tap Project also focuses on the Intellectual Renaissance among the youth, because illiterates of the 21st century are not just those who can’t read and write only; but also comprise those who cannot unlearn the many lies they have been conditioned to believe and to seek out the hidden knowledge that they have been conditioned to reject and this deals with addressing the lack of reading culture, which is main source of information. And if this trend continues like this for the next 20 to 30 years, Nigeria will collapse as an intellectual and finally, it would lay a foundation that would have direct impact on Nigerian government to enhancing its own approach to youth matter towards 2030 when young Nigerians would be the most relevant resources for the nation and not crude oil. We provide a comprehensive support to understanding our own concept of youth in Nigeria, because”Youth” is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group, particularly in relation to education and employment. This latter age limit, has been increasing, as higher level of unemployment and the cost of setting up an independent household, puts many people into prolonged periods of dependency and there can be no keener revelation of society’s soul .
How many youths have enrolled for the programme and will there be any financial support at the end of the programme?
So far, so good, we have over 600 youths enrolled for the category 2.0 of the programme; 100 in the category 2.1 and 300 for the category 2.3. At the end the programme, they all stand a chance to either get a grant or a loan. Some would be employed by the institution training them. By the end of this month, July, the first set of the UNESCO Tap Project category 2.3, will be given N500,000 each as loan with a very flexible condition.
Can you tell us in detail about the UNESCO Read and Earn Federation?
It’s a specialised UNESCO Institute, established through its National Commission in accordance with UNESCO provisions in Nigeria to enhance UNESCO visibility and mission with its ideals through programmes within the UNESCO field of competence that aligns with the nation’s priorities and aspirations. It’s also a member of the UNESCO world body of Associations, Centres and Clubs. Our presence cuts across the nooks and crannies of the federation through our schools, communities network with states representative across the 36 states including the nation’s capital, Abuja and indicators across the 774 local governments in the country. It’s financially and legally autonomous.
What about the Project ‘V Nigeria’?
Project V Nigeria [PVN] is a five- year Basic Educational Programme launched 30th of October, 2017 in Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State, south- west Nigeria, tailored to, reducing the 12 million out-of-school children in Nigeria by 25 per cent before or by 2021, recently brought to light by UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the immediate past director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova said that 50 per cent of the world population of out-of-school children are in Nigeria. The problem of this children not completing the basic educational cycle will not only limit the future opportunities available to the children, but as well, pose a significant drain on the limited resources the country has, since education is a key part of strategies to improve individuals’ well-being, societies’ economic and social development and all hands must be on deck because it’s like sitting on a keg of gun powder. If we don’t pay attention to this population now and assist the stakeholders to address this menace, they may become hoodlums with problems associated with crime, which pose a significant threat to the security of the nation. We are working towards enhancing community-based Early Childhood Care Development Education Services [ECCDE] because it’s an integral part of the Basic Education programme and it represents the first and essential step in achieving school readiness for children entering primary schools and also in addressing the out of school children phenomenon.
How do you intend to achieve all of these goals?
We have two means of implementation, effective advocacy and publicity. Through mobilisation and broad participatory activities with community leaders in various communities and reputable media organisations in the country.
Partnership: To build strategic cooperation with civil society organisations which share our priority and experts in line with the Paris declaration of AID effectiveness for easy attainment of “PVN” goals in Nigeria and engage more individuals and private sectors, both at national and global levels, to build strategic partnerships and maximise the efficiency of the government work. This will allow us and our partners to benefit from numerous different perspectives and areas of expertise for easy actualisation of the UN-SDG Goal 4 in Nigeria.
What are the achievements so far of the Project V Nigeria?
Our strategic entering point intervention; 500 families with children at the risk of dropping out from school through preventive Comprehensive Health programmes and providing a platform (Health Corners) for a healthy life style because Health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, bad healthy life style and their resultant effects among others are among other consequential factors for school dropouts. Giving out scholarships to children, mostly from the north east, to be enrolled by September this year and also, construction of classrooms in Borno State where most have been affected by the insurgency.
What are your expected results and societal benefits?
To this end, during and after commencement of the programme, a significant number of Out-of-School Children, would be back in school, simultaneously reducing child labour and human traficking in the country, as well as the creation of job opportunities at various levels. PVN will strategically enhance the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs) and other relevant stakeholders in actualising the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 and technically contribute towards the actualisation of SDGs goals 1, 2, 3 and 5 in Nigeria.
What is your opinion about the girl child education in Nigeria and your advice to the government since PVN would be addressing the issue also?
First of all, we should know that education for all is the responsibility of all, because gender sensitivity is a key aspect of the quality of education. Educational systems should be sensitive to the specific needs of girls and women. Yet the curriculum, teaching materials and the media, have a powerful role in shaping people’s knowledge and opinions. In some parts of Nigeria, traditional roles may deny women opportunities for full and equal participation in society. Now, radio, television, and the Internet reach can engage more people in the region, which makes it more important that students learn to analyse and judge the media’s messages for themselves.
My advice for the government is to enhance the efforts being made to improve female education in the country. We need to go beyond rhetoric and should involve policies and programs with measurable results. Government can start by making the SDGs part of national development plans and monitoring progress toward those goals. Government also needs to make an extra effort to ensure that education is more accessible to low-income families and rural populations, with special attention to the quality of the education provided and the need for girls to complete school. This is because the benefit of girls’ education includes, among others, population growth, and as a result, infant and child mortality will fall and family health will improve. It will increase women’s participation in the labour force and contribute to increasing the household income and reducing the rate of children dropping out of school, because the increasing open global economy, economies’ export orientation and the growing importance of small and medium-sized enterprises create opportunities for women, but women need the appropriate education and training to take full advantage of these opportunities. Policies should also be created to address trends such as Religion, Tradition, and Culture etc that encourage women to be illiterate or to have limited education. Women’s increased earning capacity, in turn, has a positive effect on child nutrition. Children, especially daughters of educated mothers, are more likely to be enrolled in school and to have higher levels of educational attainment. Educated women are more politically active and better informed about their legal rights and how to exercise them.
The problem of this children not completing the basic educational cycle will not only limit the future opportunities available to the children, but as well, pose a significant drain on the limited resources the country has
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