Support for Entrepreneurial Education

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Ibukun Awosika
Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), Mrs Ibukun Awosika

First Bank of Nigeria Limited in partnership with Junior Achievement recently implemented the FutureFirst Financial Literacy programme which targeted over 40,000 students in some schools across the country. Ugo Aliogo reports

According to experts, the knowledge sector is the intellectual foundation that helps lubricates the wheel of economic growth and prosperity.

They also posited that a well-developed knowledge sector can help countries improve its human capital base, and address its infrastructural deficit. Addressing the deficit involves active investment, not just in learning, but in entrepreneurial education at Primary and Secondary School levels especially. This would help strong basis for skill developments, and wealth creation ideas.

A study revealed that through teaching of entrepreneurship skills, secondary school graduates would assume more responsibilities in job creation and be focused on nation-building.

Entrepreneurship education seeks to provide students with the knowledge, skills and innovation to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings. It is a key driver of our economy.

In 2014, the United Nation Children Education Fund (UNICEF) reported that 10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria.

The report explained that about 60 per cent of OOSC are girls, noting that many of those who do enrol drop out early and there are low perceptions of the value of education for girls and early marriages are among the reasons.
Under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, efforts has been made to cut down that figure to 8.6 million children.

Recent reports showed that there is a huge deficit in the knowledge sector of the country consequently; achieving economic prosperity and growth might a distant dream.

That is why First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) has been in an ongoing mutually beneficially relationship with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN).

The focus of the partnership is to implement the bank’s FutureFirst Financial Literacy programme which has reached over 40,000 students in schools in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Abuja with knowledge of how money works basic money management, smart investment and decision-making habits, importance of imbibing a savings culture and early entrepreneurship.

Since becoming a board member, the bank has forged a deeper partnership with JA Nigeria to reach out to its target audience which is mainly young people between the ages of five and 27 years old.

The bank currently serves as Chair of the Marketing and Communication sub-committee of JA Nigeria, represented by the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney.

JA programmes help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.

With more than 2.2 million students in more than 100 member nations, speaking 36 languages on six continents, Junior Achievement has a major goal to build a bridge between the classroom and the workplace for children and young adults. This is done through a growing number of volunteers, educators, parents and contributors who reach out to these children in their schools.

The JA Company Program (CP) provides senior secondary School Students with practical business experience through the organisation and operation of an after-school business enterprise.

During the course of the competition, students would be required to develop a business plan, establish production and sales of goods and services for their company, monitor progress toward goals at regular department and company meetings, maintain complete financial records, compile a report to stockholders, and liquidate the company at a given period with the support of a volunteer.

Through the bank’s Employee Volunteering and Giving programme, staff of the bank would experience fulfilment through participation in this project by volunteering their time and skills thus providing their talent and knowledge resource for the benefit of young people.

This year, the students that completed the programme successfully would qualify for the regional competition and the best company from each region would represent their school in the National Company of the Year competition in Lagos.

The overall best company for 2018 was Caro Favored College (Inventive Explorers) in Nigeria and they will represent Nigeria in Ghana.

Countries where JA is active in Africa will be represented by Students who have competed at the national level in their respective countries. These include Botswana, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Bank’s proposed support is in furtherance of its community support and sustainable finance corporate responsibility pillars designed to foster youth empowerment through promoting entrepreneurial development amongst them.

Speaking at the National Company of the Year (NCOY) competition recently in Lagos, the Chairman, JAN, Mr. Niyi Yusuf, said the goal of the NCOY is to create a signature showcase for JAN.

He said the students benefit from the impact of the JA company programme which is a school-based entrepreneurship education curriculum for senior secondary school students.

He also explained that the annual celebration of success allows young people to demonstrate their business acumen and spirit of entrepreneurship in a competitive environment, which would engage business, education and policy leaders, as well as the media.

Yusuf said they begin the selection process by looking for volunteers who live in a particular environment that would be willing to devote their time and energy for the students and who are passionate about developing young entrepreneurs

He explained that the next stage is to look for a school that would give them invitation, adding that they understand the benefit which comes from developing entrepreneurs.

According to him, “So once we have a willing volunteer and a school, then the next thing is sparking the ideas that are already in the students. The students have those wonderful ideas and they are looking for someone to help them unravel what is inside them.”

In her remarks, the Global Head, Marketing and Communications, First Bank Limited, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney, said the bank believes in the future of the youths and identifies with their innate talent, skills, and values that they possess which is key to building and securing not just their future, but that of the country.

According to the Founder, Universal Learn Direct Academic Limited, Mr. Gbola Oba, most graduates lack the requisite middle level skills set which successful societies are built upon.

He argued that it would imperative to fundamentally identify some relevant skills sets especially from the university system which would make the society to function better.

He added that there is need for proprietors of private universities to ensure that their students acquired some important computer software development certification to ensure that they are able to compete favourably in the marketplace.

Oba added: “Conventional University education can be placed side by side with a well-structured programme entrepreneurship; therefore federal government should take a cue from other countries where the practice is in vogue, “skills acquisition is very important in tertiary education because any skilled human being is a potential entrepreneur.

“Skills acquisition is very important in tertiary education because any skilled human being is a potential entrepreneur and this can trigger an entrepreneurial value chain.”