The Gabriel Olukayode Ariyibi Foundation (GOAF) has awarded scholarship to three indigent students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) and Eletu Edibo Senior High School, Abule-Ijesha to enable them complete their studies.
They are Mr. Sunday Elijah, a 100-level Theatre Arts student, Miss Deborah Adewolu of YABATECH and Miss Mary Adetosoye of Eletu Edibo.
The award is an initiative of the late senior pastor of the Foursquare Gospel Church (FGC) Sanctuary of Praise under its educational and vocational committee, designed to provide financial assistance for children and youths who would otherwise have been unable to find the resources for their education.
Speaking at the second anniversary and 2017 scholarship awards in Lagos with the theme 'Strategic Empowerment of Youths with Technical and Vocational Skills: The Role of Community and Faith-based Organisations', the Secretary General, Commonwealth Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Africa, Nairobi Kenya, Dr. Olubunmi Owoso, said aside the scholarships, the foundation is also aimed at providing skills/entrepreneurship training and financial assistance for identified youths for the establishment of small scale viable businesses.
Owoso, who is a member of trustees of the foundation, expressed hope that the GOA empowerment programme would serve to relieve the burdens of the needy thus contributing to the preparation of a good ground for them to stand on their own. He said since its establishment in 2015, the foundation has awarded over 10 scholarships to indigent students in secondary and tertiary institutions; donated books to school libraries; and constructed borehole to provide access to potable water at its Abule -Ijesha vicinity.
"The church realised that the vision of the founder must not die and cannot die, hence the establishment of the foundation to support the education of students from less privileged background so that they can also create their own business and enterprise."
The guest speaker and former Executive Secretary of Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB), Chief Olawumi Gasper, who spoke on the theme of the programme expressed hope that the initiative would change the lives of the students, while stressing the need for stakeholders to ensure that their skills must be relevant to the needs of the community.
"The high level of youth unemployment and its accompanying youth restiveness calls for a desirable alternative route with a clear and distinct objective through strategic empowerment of youths with technical and vocational skills.
"However, it is important to note that the actualisation of the industrial transformation agenda and empowerment of our youths is hinged on the production of quality technical skills in large numbers from the technical and vocational education sub-sector. It should be noted that actualising this agenda would require the expertise of engineers, technologists, technicians and craftsmen."
He added that the foundation's initiative as properly articulated must therefore ensure adequate skills training, empowering the youths and preparing them for the world of work; provide job opportunities and keep them off the streets, adding that it must be designed as a vehicle through technical and vocational training that would produce large number of skilled youths who will be self-reliant, competent, knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated to becoming self-employed/entrepreneurs.
Gasper expressed concern that the country celebrates certificates, stressing the need for a synergy between the educational policy and the needs of the society.
"Unfortunately, we have always shied away from a rigorous evaluation of the nation's specific needs in terms of human capacity required for industrial transformation and to drive the economy. It is my humble reflection that Nigeria possesses abundant army of youths who are agitated, misdirected, angry, unlearned, hopeless, restive and unskilled growing exponentially and whose abundant energy can be harnessed and redirected towards TVE to support our industrial transformation agenda."
He lauded the foundation's mission to deploy technical and vocational skills in training and addressing challenges of youth restiveness and empowerment of youths, saying that it calls for immense support and further partnerships.
"In carrying out the design of the programme, cognizance must be taken of the dynamic changes being witnessed globally in the TVE sub-system. Changes defined by technological advances, demand by industry for well trained and high quality technical skills, growing small business owners from the youths, need to redirect our youths to areas of greater opportunities in the economy, deploying TVE to address youth restiveness and stem unemployment."
The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the foundation and former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Tunde Lemo, thanked God for the opportunity to impact lives, saying that it is imperative to sustain it.
He expressed concern about the practice of celebrating certificates in the country, while recalling that when he was in public service, people who were qualified were less committed to their jobs.
"We must go back to the foundation. Seventy per cent of Nigeria's workforce are youths, if we don't engage them, we will not be safe. If we have many of this kind of foundation to impact the lives of youths, things will work in the country."