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20 million Nigerians to benefit from UNICEF youth initiative

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The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, on Tuesday, disclosed its plan to launch a multi-sector partnership to support 20 million youths in Nigeria between 2021 and 2030.

The Country Representative, UNICEF, Peter Hawkins, said this in an interview with our correspondent.

According to Hawkins, the ‘Gen U’ programme, which means Generation Unlimited, is a global multi-sector partnership aimed at supporting the over 1.8 billion youths globally with relevant and future-proof skills, thereby connecting them to entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, and supporting them to change the world for themselves and their communities.

He said “Nigeria is the largest African economy and it has one of the largest young populations in the world; with youth unemployment at 37 per cent, representing an extraordinary opportunity for development and growth.

“It’s in view of this that the ‘Gen U’ is embarking on a mission to reach 20 million youths in 10 years with quality education, skills training, employment, entrepreneurship opportunities, targeting girls and adolescents from underserved communities, including those living with disabilities in Africa’s largest economy.

“In 2020, ‘Gen U’ Nigeria conducted a country investment agenda to help all stakeholders understand the missing opportunities in the continuum of how young people are equipped and enabled to become productive and engaged citizens in society through formal and informal learning.”

Hawkins added that in line with this, ‘Gen U’ Nigeria identified three core interventions that it would focus on.

They include digital connectivity, also called ‘Naija Connect’, with emphasis on GIGA (connecting every school and learner to the Internet) and digital skills development.

The UNICEF representative also spoke on youth engagement and participation, which according to him, give young people their voices.

He said “ A group  of four young people in Maiduguri came up with an innovative idea called Street2School, a social enterprise initiative that provides vulnerable young people (10-20 years) from marginalised communities across North-East Nigeria access to basic foundational (literacy and numeracy), soft skills and live skills through our blended online and offline community learning hub and to our surprise, they won the ‘Gen U’ global youth challenge competition in the education category on a platform called: ‘The Youth Market Place’ organised by UNICEF and partners.

“Presently, over 400,000 Nigerian youths have been reached, 7,000+ online innovative challenge and 1,000+ Jobberman Soft Skills certificates issued with 8,000+ data and airtime rewards redeemed and over 45+ youth mentorship sessions completed.” Punch

 

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