State leaders in Nigeria offer skills training to combat illiteracy and unemployment

By Jennifer Ehidiamen  |  May 16, 2013 at 4:40 PM
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LAFIA, Nigeria (GPI)-- While applying to university, Isabella Anna Anzolo, 20, enrolled in a free computer literacy training offered by a local organization in Lafia, the capital of Nigeria’s Nasarawa state. Anzolo says she wanted to gather new skills to make her marketable for a job in case she does not receive acceptance to university. “As a young girl or a young person, the best you can ever achieve is education,” she says. “That is the best you can do to your youthful age. It is a legacy you can never regret.” During the six-month course, Anzolo learned about computers as well as gained administrative skills. She completed the program in December 2012 and will participate in a graduation ceremony in June. She took the course through the Mother and Child Care Enhancement Foundation, a nongovernmental organization founded by the first lady of Nasarawa. It aims to empower youth and women through free vocational and entrepreneurial training. The organization is among various private institutions and government agencies in Nasarawa offering free skill-acquisition classes to combat high rates of illiteracy and unemployment in the state. Hajia Salamatu Tanko Al-Makura, the first lady of Nasarawa, emphasized her organization’s commitment to boosting literacy rates in an event to promote literacy that it hosted on April 24. The UNESCO delegation in the Nigerian capital of Abuja gave Al-Makura an ambassadorial award in 2013 to recognize her efforts to advance literacy, vocational skills and entrepreneurship. Established in 2011, the organization has already trained more than 625 women and young adults through its literacy program, says Audu Blackgold Sanni, the organization’s technical adviser. Its courses are free, though participants must pay for materials as well as 500 naira ($3) to apply. The Nasarawa State Agency for Adult and Non-formal Education also offers literacy and vocational skills training at 300 centers in the state, says Williams Ebuga, executive director of the governmental agency. The trainings are free in order to make them accessible to all. “The literacy centers are where we teach those people who did not have the opportunity to go to school when they were young,” he says. Under the state's current administration, the agency has aimed to modernize the equipment and trainings that the centers offer, including basic reading and writing in the local Hausa language, computer literacy and vocational education for women, Ebuga says. Women learn skills such as sewing, knitting and baking. “Through those skills, they are able to take care of themselves and have some little independence where they can earn some income,” he says. “And through that, they can contribute to the welfare of the family and also to the society.” The centers also offer skills training to men and young people, including those who have dropped out of school. During the May 1 commemoration of International Workers’ Day in Lafia, Gov. Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura pledged his administration’s commitment to tackling unemployment and increasing self-reliance through these trainings. The state administration does not have the resources to create more jobs and does not want to hire employees only to underpay them, he said.

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