By Joseph INOKOTONG
Participants at the maiden Islamic Development Bank Youth Summit held on the sidelines of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, have urged heads of governments of the 57 member-countries of the Bank to review and enhance the education curricula at all levels by giving special emphasis to technical and vocational education to endow the youth with the necessary skills that lead to gainful employment.
They also want the governments of the member countries to expand access to education for the youth in order to equip them with the essential academic and vocational skills that could help them to see and take advantage of available and create more economic opportunities.
A statement signed by Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta, Director (Information) said the Youth made the calls in a communiqué issued at the end of their summit, which was aimed at finding solutions to poverty and unemployment, which forced hundreds of youth from member-countries to migrate from their countries to live under insecure and illegal conditions elsewhere without a chance to invest in their future.
They said their call was necessary because “there is a mismatch between what is being taught in academia and what the market requires in terms of vocational skills. In addition, advances in digital technology are not fully integrated into education systems, which leave youth behind the curve in terms of preparing for the future.”
The summiteers, who were drawn from member-countries of the IsDB, said that the need for aligning education curricula with market requirements could lead to more employment opportunities and turn the youth into innovators who could use knowledge, skills and technology to become entrepreneurs and create jobs and wealth for themselves and others.
They lamented that “the lack of basic, affordable, inclusive and high quality education and decent employment in IsDB member countries ultimately disconnect young people from economic opportunities, leading to poverty and its negative social effects.”
“Our countries are weak in terms of global competitiveness, lag behind in science and technology, and are chronically suffering from abject poverty and political crises. The effects of these issues are felt more acutely by young people who are more vulnerable than other segments of society,” they argued.
The youth called for the establishment of IsDB Youth Community to serve as a forum for continuous communication, interactions and exchange of ideas, sharing of expertise and building solidarity among youths in the IsDB member countries.
If the recommendation for establishing the IsDB Youth Community is implemented, “the Bank can facilitate the exchange of know-how and experience from countries with successful models to other member countries,” they said.
“This community can also serve the purpose of connecting the youth with mentors, donors, venture capitalists and provide training opportunities to further enhance youth capabilities,” the communiqué reiterated.
In the case of Nigeria, the country has integrated Entrepreneurship Studies in most of its tertiary institutions, the Federal and State Governments have established hundreds of specialized Vocational and Technical Secondary Schools, the country has scores of Polytechnics and Monotechnics the curricula of which were geared to train students in various trades and vocations, while the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) launched by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari contains a section on the training and equipping youth with vocational and entrepreneurship skills.
In addition, the Federal Ministry of Finance through its YouWinConnect programme has launched Enterprise Education outreach in newspapers which it plans to take to the Internet, radio and television stations for wider reach. The outreach is aimed at imparting basic business management skills for running existing and start-ups enterprises profitably and narrating the experiences of successful entrepreneurs to inspire enterprising youth in the country.