The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has advocated a more inclusive approach for profiling youth for development and empowerment interventions to capture those in the informal sector even as he identified funding as a major challenge to be addressed.
The Minister, who was speaking, when he gave the audience to Junior Achievement Nigeria (JA), a non-governmental organization, in office in Abuja, further noted that the era when Youth Development was just a footnote is over.
He said “We need to be more inclusive to include those without tertiary education in the profiling of the Nigerian youth. The informal sector plays a major role in the economy. I think when empowering the youth we should look not just at the elite population, when we are all-encompassing we will make progress.”
Reacting to Junior Achievement’s presentation on how to empower the next one million youth over the course of the next five years, Mr. Dare noted that “the challenge of youth development has been funding and how to scale up. You need to work with us as a Ministry to also achieve our target of (training and empowering) one million youth.
“As I listened to both of you speak, I was just wondering if someone somewhere compared notes because as I reel out plans, you will find that there are just several plug-ins. To a very large extent, they are similar. What we are doing differently this time is that we are putting youth and sports development on equal care.
The Minister assured the organization that their priorities are also the Ministry’s priorities noting that “What we want to do is to scale up the empowerment of our youth, also to deepen the skills that we offer them and above all, to create opportunities for them. It is about opportunities. What you do is also creating a platform for opportunities.”
He informed the gathering of the Ministry’s vision to empower 500,000 youth in the next two years in partnership with groups like JAI to scale the numbers up, among other programs of the Ministry.
Speaking earlier, the Director Junior Achievement Olaniyi Yusuf, while giving a background on the organisation, said JA has three major areas of focus which includes Financial Literacy; which teaches young people how to spend and invest wisely, Work Readiness; working with students and prepare them for work, Entrepreneurship; working with students and those out of school to make them successful entrepreneurs, with a fourth pillar, Digital Literacy, in recognition of the fact that the world is a global village.
The Executive Director of the Junior Achievement Nigeria, Simisola Nwogugu thanked the Minister for receiving the group and highlighted some of the organization’s achievements. She said, “In our first 20 years in the country, we focused on making an impact on the students that were under our care, we believe that by the end of this year we would have reached 1 million students. We are now at 980,000; we have a few programs to help us reach 1 million by the end of the year. At our 20th anniversary, we decided to look for a way to reach another 1 million without waiting for another year and that is why we are here”