By Stephen Adeleye.
The Minister of State for Education, Hon. Goodluck Nanah Opiah, on Thursday flagged off the UNESCO supported Incentivised Pilot Schools Sewing Championship 2023 (SSCP2023) project for secondary school students in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The SSCP2023 was initiated by an NGO, Ladi Memorial Foundation (LMF), in collaboration with the FCT Education Secretariat and supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Minister urged the participants to maximize the opportunity of the programme to acquire skills that will make them self reliant.
Opiah commended the LMF for the initiative saying, ”it is in line with the vision of the present administration which takes STEM and TVET as top priority in addressing the challenge of unemployment in the country”.
Opiah stressed that functional vocational skills acquisition would serve as solution to unemployment, social vices and related problems of out of school children.
The minister assured LMF of the ministry’s support for the vocational initiative to enable the project grow and expand for wider coverage.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of LMF, Mrs Rosemary Ojochenemi Osikoya, said the initiative was designed to sensitize the general public and targeted stakeholders on the benefits of vocational education and livelihood skills development.
She said the pilot sewing contest would draw 54 participants from schools across the six area councils of the FCT who will undergo a 5-day intensive training at a boot camp after which three winners will emerge.
Osikoya said participants and participating schools that would emerge 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions at the final competition would get sewing machines and sewing equipment as prizes.
According to her, the targeted beneficiaries/ groups include young adults aged 12-20 years who are enrollment at formal learning centers (JSS and SSS) and out of school youths or learners in non-formal learning centers in Abuja.
She said the initiative would contribute to sharpening perception/reducing stigmatization associated with vocational education, while at the same time providing a credible interactive platform to incentivize young adults of school age to commit to acquisition of functional vocational skills.
She added that it would also help in strengthening schools co-curricular and sporting activities by encouraging healthy competition and leadership development through play.
She said the objective was to provide a competitive and engaging platform for incentivizing positive competition amongst young people of school age; motivate and harness creativity among young adults as well as identify and promote talented young skilled artisans and craftsmen of school age.
“There is a high rate of criminalities; youth engagements are at its lowest and education stakeholders need all the support they can get. I thank UNESCO for believing in what appears to be a vision.
“The vision we have is to strengthen stakeholders’ collaborations for vocational education and training through the incentivized pilot school sewing piloted in the FCT.
“Co-curricular education and every education support activities when put together will propel young people to learn through play and then they also bring other values for productivity to achieve the goal of the National Policy on Education.
“Nigeria conceives that education is the driver of the economy. And to bridge the disconnect between education and the other sectors will mean that other stakeholders will contribute to making the schools the centre of development within the community”, she said.
She 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.
Osikoya also said that the initiative would inculcate positive work values and a sense of community service in young adults through team effort, good friendship and positive work group cooperation, among others.
According to her, the FCT’s Six Area Councills’ flag off will hold from January 23 to 30, while the qualifying championship is March 7 to 9, 2023.
She said the FCT Boot Camp for final championship is scheduled for April 25 to 29, while the Awards Presentation and closing ceremony will also hold in April 2023.
She said the project is enjoying partnership from the Federal Ministry of Education (FME); the FCT Education Secretariat (project host), NTA, FRCN, APWEN, NBTE, NMEC, NAPTIN, NABTEB, and many others.
Osikoya said the Pilot Incentivised SSCP 2023, had potential to become a nation-wide project in the future, with wider stakeholders’ buy-in and adequate funding.
She added that it would also help to objectively appraise schools’ TVET efforts, strengthen interschools’ competitiveness and facilitate support for establishment/ furnishing of schools’ workshops.
Earlier in his address, Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees of LMF, Engr Kashim Ali, said the initiative was to expose young people to life skills that will help them contribute to the growth and development of the nation.
Also speaking, the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Masudur Rahman, urged the students to take the training seriously, adding that the garment making industry is a money-spinner.
Rahman said his country exports $45 billion worth of garments annually, adding that Nigeria should take the sector seriously as it could revolutionise the country’s economy and boost its GDP.
Other stakeholders such as SMEDAN, NBTE, UBEC, NAPTIN, NAPPS, POWA and NMEC, among others, who spoke at the flag off, lauded the initiative and pledged their support to ensure its success.