Groups Partner on $100m Youth Empowerment Initiative

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    By Peter Uzoho

    Citi Foundation, LEAP Africa’s partner in the empowerment of youth across Africa, has disclosed that the foundation would commit $100 million to impact the lives of 500,000 youths between age 16 and 24 across the world by year 2020.

    This is even as LEAP Africa, through its iLEAD programme – a trainthetrainer project, sponsored by Citi Foundation, disclosed that it had empowered 450 students and trained 15 teachers across five secondary schools in Lagos.

    The Country Head, Corporate Affairs, Citibank Nigeria and Ghana, Lola Oyeka, disclosed this in Lagos, at the LEAP Africa’s iLEAD stakeholders’ engagement forum, with the theme, “The Significance ofMainstreaming Leadership and Life-skills Education in Nigerian Secondary Schools.”

    Oyeka, said the foundation would also engage at least 10, 000 employees as volunteers who would serve as mentors, coaches and role models to young people in support of their career progress andaspirations over the course of implementing the foundation’s project. This, according to her, would help tackle youth unemployment in the world.

    She added, “One of the things that Citi is keen on is being a trusted partner in progress in terms of being able to contribute to society and making a positive impact.

    Citi was very strategic in choosing a partner and it went without saying that we needed to collaborate with LEAP Africa on this particular thing.

    “We have a project called ‘Pathway to Progress,’ which addresses youthunemployment. And how do we close that gap? When we tackle youth unemployment, it leads to economic growth.

    So, a survey was done, called ‘Accelerating Pathways’, whereby Lagos was one of the 36cities that were surveyed across the world. And we tried to identify partners who we’re running programmes with the secondary schools to see how we can tackle the youth unemployment.”

    Also speaking at the event, Programme Officer, LEAP Africa, Mr. Femi Abraham, said the forum sought to bring about conversation around how to bridge the skills gap amongst youth in Nigeria.

    He added, “So we identified that there is a difference between what the students are learning in schools and what they need to add value to their society.

    So, over the past few years LEAP Africa has been implementing programmes. Some of them have cascaded from primary schools to secondary to university to out-of-school students.

    “We’re working with five schools across various communities in Lagos. The iLEAD is leadership/life skills programme for secondary school student sponsored by Citi Foundation and we’ve empowered over 450students across five schools in Lagos andtrained 15 teachers who helped to cascade this module in the five schools.

    In his presentation, the guest speaker and Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, stressed the need to support the young ones making progress in their push for greatness rather than looking at them with sense of pity.