Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq held an online meeting with young people drawn from across the state Wednesday night, urging them to embrace technology to cope with the new economy and explaining the various youths-centric initiatives of his administration.
In a zoom meeting attended by dozens of Kwarans to commemorate the International Youth Day, AbdulRazaq said investments in new skills and new technology are major preoccupation of the administration.
He announced the slashing of tuition fees for two major courses at the international vocational, technical and entrepreneurship college (IVTEC) centre Ajase-Ipo — a decision taken to allow as many Kwara youths as possible to access technical education and make them self-sustaining.
The reduction affects only Kwara indigenes studying at the International Vocational, Technical and Entrepreneurship College (IVTEC).
While the tuition fee for the three-month-duration IVTEC Special Certificate Programme (SCP) has been cut from N50,000 to N35,000, the tuition for IVTEC National Innovation Diploma (NID) programme was reduced per session from N110,060.00 to N77,050.00 for prospective Kwara students.
The tuition for the one year National Vocational Certificate (NVC) has also been reduced from N75,833.33 to N53,083.00.
AbdulRazaq acknowledged the calls for downward review of tuition at other institutions, including the Kwara State University, but observed that the administration recognises the need to invest more in the school to attain certain heights and then determine the strategy to ease some burdens on the students.
The Governor said the next budget would feature more investments in technology especially in schools and governmental institutions in line with its ease of doing business strategy while more money would go into funding small businesses, startups, and innovative ideas, particularly those from young people in the state.
He explained that COVID-19 and the restrictions on mass gathering have shown the need to invest more in new technology, saying the proposed innovation hub and the visual arts centre has been conceived to equip Kwara youths with necessary skills to compete in the emerging global economy.
AbdulRazaq said he is engaging with the AMCON on the sustainable way of reviving Bacita sugar company and other moribund factories that once offered jobs to the Kwara populace, adding that the identity registration bill currently with the parliament is meant to generate accurate data for planning and development.
“The major issue for the youth today is employment, how to get jobs and how to prepare our youth for the challenges of the global community. As a sub-national government, Kwara State is doing its part in engaging youth. We believe that the backbone of any state is its Human Resources,” he said.
“As we are aware youth constitute the vast majority of our population. That’s the more reason we need to invest in our youth and make sure we prepare them for challenges of the future. We want our youth especially in Kwara to dominate the north central zone of Nigeria in all aspects of our national life. From there they spring to (dominate) the country and even dominate Africa. That is why we need to embrace the new norm. COVID-19 has brought new dynamics and we need to prepare ourselves for the world after COVID-19. Certainly some things have changed, some things have come to stay. The way we conduct ourselves, the way we do businesses and the way we put our curriculum together.
“So, from next year’s budget we are going to bring a lot of ICT into our schools. Due to what has happened, Nigeria seems caught hands down because we did not prepare. In Europe, they are attending classes online but in Africa, we can only do lessons through radio which is not interactive per se. We are not (adequately) prepared in the new age of internet to ensure that we deliver seamless studies to our students and some students are not rich enough to afford data and access such programmes. Now we are developing new ideas, new investments in education.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye quoted Abdulrahman as saying further;
“The innovation hub we just approved is to ensure that youth of different backgrounds come together and express themselves in an intellectual manner and engage the world, develop ideas and we will sponsor. We are talking about a platform for knowledge sharing, business incubation, coding and much more. The government will fund some of these programmes for you. What we realise is that many of our young people from Kwara are excelling in Lagos and elsewhere. They move to Yaba (Lagos) once they graduate from Kwara. What COVID-19 has told us is that we can do business from anywhere. You can sit in your home and do your businesses as long as you have conducive environment. This is exactly what we are putting in place.”