…..As Gateway Excel College Led Ten Contenders
Students of Gateway Excel College, Otukpa, Benue State, emerged the overall winner of the 2018, “Beyond School Community Challenge, Competition an initiative of Mandela Washington Fellow Alumni Association Nigeria (MWFAAN) designed to equip students with entrepreneurial skills through provision of solution to challenges facing their communities.
The Beenue state students who worked under the team name, ‘Fabulous Explorer’, were rewarded with N250,000 cash prize in the form of a grant to execute their pet project.
Team Mush Feeds, Students from Oregun Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State, and Team Aqua Me, Students from Baptism Boys High School, Abeokuta, Ogun State, came second and third respectively winning cash price of N100,000 and N50,000 in grants form each.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is an initiative of former US President, Barack Obama tagged Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) designed to empower young Africans to transform their society.
Speaking on the rationale behind the initiative, President MWFAAN, Dr Segun Fatudimu said the programme is part of effort of the association to create opportunities for school children to proffer practical solutions to challenges in their communities instead of just talking about them.
“We realized that a topical Nigerian youth goes to school learn all the things he or she learns in school but finds it difficult to connect it to the real world, by implication, they are not thought how the Chemistry, Biology or Physics they learnt in school help them too solve the problems around their communities.
“Nigeria has a lot of talents but the challenges is that these talents are not being harnessed and appropriately supported, so we thought of getting these children out, get their ideas out and in the public space.”
On his part, The Lead, Beyond The School Community Challenge, 2018, Mr. Ayodele Odeogbola said top 10 finalists from selected schools in six states across the country to compete for the grand prizes in the Beyond School Challenge final pitching competition.
He described the programme as a national community development and entrepreneurship program for secondary school students, stressing that it aims to engage young people in Nigeria for the purpose of creating impact within their community and developing critical entrepreneurial skills.
According to him, over one thousand schools from across the country applied for participation but after a careful selection process made up of a review panel headed by independent industry experts from various sectors 10 schools secured slots to the grand finale held in Abuja.
In his keynote address, Culture Affairs Officer, US Embassy, Sterling Tilley, encouraged the young participants to look beyond the price. “I hope you never forget the lessons of this competition which is that always you should try to find the opportunities in every challenge you may encounter in life, be the person that provides solutions to problems in your country,” he said.
Commending MWFAAN on the initiative, said the scheme is an indication that US government’s investment in Nigerian youth is transiting a step down to the next generation.
Earlier, Publicity Secretary, MWFAAN, Margaret Nongo-Okojokwu, told journalists that the event which includes the hosting of over 1000 active Nigerian youth leaders is conceived with the aim of creating collaborating actions that will promote sustainable national development through the Young Leaders Assembly.
She explained that vision of the program is to over time become like a local replica of the United Nations’ youth assembly where young leaders, including young civic leaders, entrepreneurs, public managers, activists and student leaders working to promote national development and the sustainable development goals are recognized and celebrated.
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