By l Stephen Adeleye
No fewer than 1,000 students and out-of-school youths from across the Six Area Councils of FCT have participated in the Incentivised Pilot Schools Sewing Championship project 2023 (SSCP23) being organized by the FCT Education Secretariat, initiated by the Ladi Memorial Foundation (LMF).
The project is being supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) under the Participation Programme 2022/23, Federal Ministry of Education, FCT Education Secretariat, and National Senior Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC).
Others stakeholders are Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), National Mass Education Commission (NMEC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), National Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and other stakeholders.
The project is aimed at motivating and harnessing creativity among young adults as well as identifying and promoting talented young skilled artisans and craftsmen of school age.
The project is also aimed at advocating stakeholders support for TVET especially in strengthening schools TVET workshops to serve as incubation centres in communities.
Speaking while monitoring the second stage of the competition at AMAC centre, the Executive Director of LMF, Mrs Rosemary Osikoya, said participants would undergo both practical and theoretical tests after which the best nine candidates would be selected from each of the six area councils for the next stage.
According to Osikoya, overall, we have over 1000 contestants across the six (6) Area council which is 900 percent above what was initially planned.
Osikoya, who is also the immediate past Kogi Commissioner for Education, Science said Technology, said the initiative was designed to sensitize the general public and targeted stakeholders on the benefits of vocational education and livelihood skills development.
Osikoya said 54 winners who would emerge from the second phase of the competition would undergo a 5-day intensive training at a boot camp after which three overall winners would emerge.
She said participants and participating schools that will emerge first, second and third positions at the end of the competition will get sewing machines and sewing equipment as prizes.
She said the targeted beneficiaries/groups include young adults aged 12-20 years who are enrolled in both formal learning centres (JSS and SSS) and out-of-school youths or learners in non-formal learning centres in Abuja.
“In 2018 Nigeria was reported to have the highest number of out of school children and it was also reported that 2/3 out of Nigeria’s population was of people less than 30 years that have no skill and no job.
“The education policy establishes that before a child graduates from Junior secondary school, the child should have a functional skill for labour.
“That means, before you finish junior secondary school, you should be able to work as an artisan like a plumber, welder amongst others.
“But if you look closely in Nigeria, most of the artisan jobs are being provided by non Nigerians, so we have to go back and think.
“At the level of an NGO, part of what we do is to identify societal problems, and also identify government stakeholders that have the mandate over those problems and give in support through sensitization, and collaborations. And that is exactly what this is all about.
“Today, we are happy that over the 60 identified stakeholders for the sewing incentive scheme both in government and private sector in the FCT are involved in this project” she stated.
The executive director said the initiative would ensure the engagement of creativity, innovative traits and boundless energy of young adults in a profitable, productive, rewarding and incentivized engagement which rewards excellent performance.
Also speaking, Mrs Chinwe Joan Ogu, member of the Governing Board of National Senior Secondary School Commission (NSSEC), commended the initiative of the Sewing Championship.
“This is a laudable venture for the whole nation, for an NGO to organize this kind of programme for the youths, it is commendable.
“We know, this is just the pilot phase which is for the FCT, we recommend that this programme should be for the entire country,” Ogu said
The president, FCT Home Economics Teachers Association of Nigeria (HETAN) Mrs Rifkatu Lami Yisa, said the programme would produce skilled entrepreneurs for the nation who would be self reliant.
On her part, the Director National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) Ruth Gyeyok Popoola, said the idea behind the project was to bring the skills out of the children while in school.
“We are bringing out people from the formal and none formal education setting together for the competition.
“That is to say children after Junior secondary school can start off a life saving skill which immediately if he or she can not continue.
”The skills may be a lifeline for that child even after his senior secondary school, some may proceed to the university while others may not, that skill they have acquired can be a life sustaining skill for them,” Popoola said.