By Carol Ibinabo Matthew
Job creation is a fundamental duty of the government in collaboration with the private sector. The unavailability of jobs in any society partly lays the foundation for crime and social-vices amongst youths and endangers the safety of lives and properties.
It is not surprising therefore, that creating jobopportunities formed the basis for the creation of the State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) Project that is financed by credit from the World Bank, grant from European Union and counterpart funding from implementing States.
The objective of the project is to enhance employment opportunities and access to socio-economic services whilst improving the public financial management system in participating states. The Project has two main components: youth employment and access to socio-economic services and public financial management reforms.
Technical, Vocational and Agricultural Training (TVAT) is a sub-component under youth employment and access to socio-economic services. It is designed to match teaching with practical learning through procurement of equipment and renovation of infrastructure as contained in the School's Improvement Plan (SIP). It also has empowerment programmes for youths and women outside the conventional school environment to support them to be self-reliant through skills acquisition trainings for entrepreneurial development.
In Rivers State, the TVAT sub-component commenced implementation in 2014 with six institutions, namely: Government Technical Colleges (GTC): Port Harcourt, Ahoada, Tombia and Ele-Ogu. Others are Government Craft Development Centre, Port Harcourt and School-To-Land Authority, Rumudomaya. These institutions were in urgent need of attention before the intervention of SEEFOR Project; Students were not getting enough practicals and their future after school looked bleak.
With SEEFOR's intervention, various departments were renovated and equipped to world-class standard, some graduates were sent to Skill-Up Academy in Lagos for further practical trainings before they were released into the labour market. Instructors were also trained on the use of modern equipment so as to impact the right knowledge to the students.
In addition to the above, the project engaged volunteer teachers to augment the effort of the State government in providing technical instructors for the schools.
School-to-Land Authority, an agricultural institution for the training of farmers was at its lowest point of production at the inception of SEEFOR Project. This informed its inclusion as a beneficiary institution of the project.
This inclusion revitalized activities of the institution such as cultivation of cassava and poultry farming, complete renovation of the feed mill and installation of four tone capacity feed mill for production of feeds.
The project further completed the building of an abandoned poultry farm and installed battery cages that have capacity to house about 4,000 birds. Today the centre has a standard piggery and rabbit farms as well as maggoty.
The revitalization of the centre would not have yielded the desired result without capacity building trainings for the instructors. With this in mind, the Project sent the instructors of the centre to O'Yes Farm in Lagos for a tour of other farms and training in modern farming technology and technics.
Graduates from this institution received starter-packs and cash from the project to set up their own farms.
Speaking at the starter-presentation, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Titilola Cline, described the importance of agriculture and the synergy between SEEFOR and the School-to-Land Authority as … “one area that is of benefit not just to the immediate people (beneficiaries) but to Rivers State as a whole. There will be more food for the citizens to eat and people will be healthy.” She encouraged youths to get involved in farming by coming to School-to-Land to learn the rudiments of farming.
Describing the collaboration between the institution and SEEFOR Project, the Project Manager, Mr Yinka Akinbami said SEEFOR has boosted the economic activities of the centre by the turn-around maintenance it embarked upon and the support that has been continuous. He thanked the project for its involvement which has increased the productivity of the centre and enabled it to train young farmers who are now farm owners and are currently training others.
The project under the TVAT sub-component went further to revitalize the Women Development (WDC) Taabaa for the training of women in various skills. So far, 154 women have been trained in catering and Hotel Management, Fashion Design, Hair Dressing and Agriculture. Some youths were also trained in ICT and Paint Making.
SEEFOR Project also collaborated with the two polytechnics in the State (i.e. Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori and Capt. Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumola) to train youths in various short-term courses that include air-conditioning and refrigeration maintenance, carpentry/ wood work, computer and phone repairs/maintenance and electrical installation. Others are; welding and fabrication, concreting and ironmonger, automobile technology, electronics installation/ maintenance and plumbing/ tiling. Under this partnership, over 1,881 youths were trained.
In furtherance of its desire to create employment opportunities for more youths who are not in any government established institution, the project partnered with six Non-State actors to train 800 youths in Fashion Designing, welding and fabrication, Carpentry/ wood work, livestock farming and catering and hospitality.
Speaking on the success of the TVAT sub-component, the State Project Coordinator, Mr Kelcious Amos said the project had an initial target of training 5,436 youths but 6,134 youths have benefited from this sub-component. He thanked the state government led by His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike for its support that has given the project an enabling environment to strive.
Speaking on the impact of SEEFOR Project on their lives, some beneficiaries expressed satisfaction at the training and support they received:
Mr Chigozie Chioma, a former trainee of School-To-Land Authority: I am happy to be a student of School-to-Land. Before now it has always been my dream to own a poultry farm but I did not know how to start, I had no hope. Today it is a testimony that I have been trained in School-to-Land and I have my own farm. The Starter- pack I received is of benefit to me and the people who would learn from me. It would enable me employ people to work with me.”
Mrs Ebere Amadi, a graduate of crop farming from School-To-Land Authority (during starter-Pack distribution): I will use the starter-pack to help others by impacting in them what I have learnt, I wish to thank SEEFOR Project and the State Government, they have changed our lives and we are very grateful.
Mrs Osila Osaroluka, a beneficiary from Women Development Centre, WDC, Taabaa: I was not doing anything at home, with no assistance from anywhere before I saw SEEFOR's advert and applied for Catering. Today I own an eatery and I do outdoor cooking from the knowledge I got from WDC Taabaa. I no longer beg to eat or pay my children's school fees. I even have six people working under me.
Mr Frank James, an ex-student of Electrical Electronics, GTC Port Harcourt: When I started schooling, the department didn't have equipment for learning and the building was dilapidated, but when SEEFOR came everything changed, the building was renovated and equipment were brought, that made learning interesting. We were exposed to the repairs of old and modern electronics. At the end of our training, we were given starter-packs and money to rent shops. Today I own an electrical maintenance shop and I have three people working with me.
Mr Anaele Sunshine, a Welding and Fabrication graduate of GTC Ahoada: while I was in school, SEEFOR renovated and equipped my department. After graduation, we were given starter-packs with which I joined another welder to open a welding shop and we are doing well.
Mrs Mercy Alison, a Fashion Design graduate of WDC, Taabaa. For me, SEEFOR is like a saviour, because things were very difficult for my family before I was trained in Fashion design. Today, I make clothes for people and earn money to support my family. I am very grateful.
Mr Sam Ewodor, graduate of welding and fabrication, GTC Ahoada: after my graduation, I received starter-pack from SEEFOR Project that I used to start my workshop. Today I am doing well and I have five people working under me.
The impact of the TVAT sub-component of the SEEFOR Project on the youths and women in Rivers State cannot be over-emphasized, as the project continues to receive the support of the State Government under the leadership of Chief Nyesom Wike and the donor partners i.e. the World Bank and the European Union.
Rivers SEEFOR Project: Transforming lives for better living.
Carol Ibinabo Matthew is
Rivers SEEFOR Communication Officer