Foundation Empowers 3,500 Indigent Lagos School Children with Vocational Skills

Peter Uzoho

In a bid to help address youth unemployment and juvenile delinquency in Nigeria through the catch-them-young approach, the Faith Iyowuna Ikekhide Foundation (FIF) has empowered 3,500 indigent senior secondary school (SS3) children in Lagos State.

The foundation at the  maiden edition of its Lagos Children Empowerment Conference 2022, held yesterday, at the Abesan Mini-stadiium, Ipaja, Lagos, trained the participating children, who were drawn from 18 accredited private and public schools within the District 1 of the Lagos State Ministry of  Education, on various vocational areas.

Specifically, the benefitting 3,500 outgoing secondary school students were trained on key areas of skill acquisition including soap making, barbing, hairdressing, cake/doughnuts, tiger-nuts, fascinator, handbag making among others.

The foundation said the empowerment programme was in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 1, 2 and 8, which deal with ending poverty, improving quality of education, and ensuring decent work and economic growth of the people.

Speaking at the event, the President of Faith Oyowuna Ikekhide Foundation, Mrs. Faith Iyowuna Ikekhide, stated that the programme was aimed at ensuring that the future of Nigeria was secured by empowering and teaching and empowering the children early.

She added that the idea of empowering SS3 students was to ensure that they have some economic skills they could fall back on immediately after graduating from secondary and while they await admissions into higher institutions or during holidays.

The foundation’s president further explained that it was part of their ways of giving back to society in a more sustainable and impactful manner, adding that by learning skills, the children would not be idle and engage in social vices while out of school.

“We are empowering them with skill acquisition, entrepreneurship, mentoring, so that immediately they leave SS3, they will have something doing while waiting for admission to tertiary institutions or when there is ASUU strike or whatever.

“So it is to ensure that these children will have something they are doing to fetch them money instead of them to be on the streets.

“For today, we are empowering 3,500 students from 11 public schools and seven private schools within the District 1,” Ikekhide said.

Officially registered in Nigeria and the Washington DC, the president also said the formation of the foundation came about to help address the “burden” she had about what was happening with children and the irresponsible lives they now live.

“And I arose as a mother in Nigeria to ensure that the destinies of the children are secured because I saw some things on social media and I didn’t fall in love with it and that has to do with ritual killings, that ritualists are using children against themselves,” she said.

The Chairman of FIF and President of the Great Commission Christian Network, Dr. Andy Ikekhide, said another essence of the skill acquisition programme was to address the gap between the educational curriculum and what happens in the world.

He explained, “So when people graduate, they don’t find job and they don’t actually learn relevant skills in the school. So we are looking at how the institutions, private enterprises and all that can bridge the gap so that we can ensure that what is taught in school is relevant.

“So this is just part of that effort to bridge the gap. When you look around here, there are various trades that they are being taught on how to do, so that apart from what they learn, they can be meaningful to themselves and the society.

“We want them to have entrepreneurial mentality, because they need to become entrepreneurs, they need to look at how do I translate these skills into profitable ventures? Something that can be profitable for you as a person, profitable to your family, profitable to your society and at large, profitable to the nation.”

According to him, the empowerment programme was anchored on the acronym: ‘SHEEP,’ which he explained as Skill Acquisition, Healthcare, Education, Entrepreneurship, and Partnership.

The Tutor-General/Permanent Secretary, District 1, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mr. Adeoye Adebowale, represented at the occasion by a Director at the District, Mr. Taye Sanni, commended the foundation for investing in the children through the empowerment programme.

Adebowale, who stated that the foundation had “clearly demonstrated that education cannot be left for the government alone”, sincerely thanked the organisation for partnering with the state government to give the children quality education and good vocational skills that would be useful to them in the future.

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