Three schools in Anambra State, which emerged winners in the annual Business Plan Competition for secondary schools in the state, have been rewarded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
Students from 42 schools across the state had undergone training in 2017 by the Ministry of Basic Education in partnership with UNIDO after which they were subjected to test with only 10 schools making it to the grand finale.
The 10 schools included Washington Memorial Grammar School; St. Charles College, Onitsha; Government Technical College, Nkpor; Government Technical College, Onitsha and Fr. Joseph Memorial High School, Aguleri.
Others were St. Augustine College, Mbosi; Assumption Girls’ Secondary School, Uli; Onitsha High School, Onitsha; Queen of the Rosary College, Onitsha and Community Secondary School, Ukpo.
At the final competition, which took place in Awka during the Business Plan and Entrepreneurship Fair, three schools, St. Charles College, Onitsha, Government Technical College, Onitsha and Fr. Joseph Memorial High School, Aguleri emerged winners.
St. Charles College, Onitsha, took the first position while Government Technical College, Onitsha and Fr. Joseph Memorial High School, Aguleri came second and third respectively.
While St. Charles College, Onitsha, which specialised in Omega 2020 3 in 1 software, received cash reward of N250,000, Government Technical College, Onitsha, which majored in Govtech Catfish Farm received N200,000 cash prize.
The sum of N150,000 went to Fr. Joseph Memorial High School, Aguleri, which also specialised in Catfish Farming, while consolation prizes were given to other schools that participated in the competition.
UNIDO’s Regional Director, Mr. Jean Bakole described the event as timely and apt in view of urgent need for government and all stakeholders to review the curriculum in the nation’s educational institutions.
“For Nigeria to confront skills’ challenges in the country there is urgent need for government and all stakeholders to promote entrepreneurship skills capable of creating jobs, wealth and build a resilient and inclusive economy.
Bakole, who was represented by Francis Uko, a UNIDO representative, explained that UNIDO as a specialised agency of the United Nations promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialisation in developing countries and economies in transition and directly contributes to SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure and to SDG 5 on gender equality.
“Our activities in Nigeria as contained in the Country Programme and endorsed by the Federal Government fall under three thematic areas: poverty reduction through productive activities; trade capacity building and environment and energy.
“The Federal Government has just approved the new “Country Programme for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) in Nigeria, 2018-2022,” he added.
He listed UNIDO areas of focus to include knowledge, skills, technology and business support services needed to enable women and youths to engage in productive activities generate income, thereby reducing poverty and unemployment.
He said: “In addition, UNIDO promotes and supports capacity building with a focus on women and youth to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills for improved livelihood, gain control of their lives and exert influence in the society.
“In area of entrepreneurial skills, UNIDO collaborates with the UN system, Federal/state governments and the private sector at the country level to implement entrepreneurship project Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (LIFE).
“The programme is a 21st Century global entrepreneurship training initiatives that enables women and youth to apply innovative Information Technology (IT) and business concepts to establish and grow successful businesses that will lead to job creation and generate wealth.
“One of such partnerships is the collaboration between UNIDO and Anambra State government. The collaboration came into existence following a Trust Fund Agreement signed between UNIDO and Anambra State government in 2017.”
Appreciating Governor Willie Obiano for providing financial resources for capacity building training for teachers in selected schools to equip them with skills, Bakole re-affirmed UNIDO’s continued collaboration with the state government on skills and entrepreneurship capacity building for the youth.
Governor Obiano reassured his administration’s preparedness towards continued training and retraining of students across the state on skills and entrepreneurship to make them self-reliant on graduation.
Obiano, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, said his government will keep doing its best in financing the education sector as the previous efforts were already yielding positive results.
He described hard work as key to success, even as he advised the students to always believe in themselves and utilise their numerous opportunities present in Anambra State education sector to be great in life and at the same time make their schools and society proud.
He commended the students for their decision to acquire skills in addition to their academic careers, just as he appreciated UNIDO for the untiring support and encouragement.
Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha, noted that the fare was aimed at making students view education as business so that they could become self-reliant on graduation.
One of the students, Akachukwu Okoye from New Era Secondary School Nteje, who produced a working drone camera, expressed hope of becoming owner of his businesses on graduation.
Another participant, Miss Ifunanya Onuorah from Ide Secondary School Enugwu-Ukwu, whose school produced custard, praised the state government and UNIDO for the competition, saying it has further widened their knowledge on how to write business plans.
Principal, Community Secondary School Ajali, Lady Esther Uzor and her Ide Secondary School Enugwu-Ukwu counterpart, Mrs. Amaka Ubaka, commended Governor Obiano for investing more in entrepreneurship, which they said would reduce the unemployment rate among students on graduation.
They called for financial assistance from both government and individuals to enable them improve in the entrepreneurship practicals.
The event, which featured exhibition of different products by the students had the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu; Commissioner for Indigenous Art Work, Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo and Head of Service, Harry Udu, a lawyer, among others in attendance.
Other dignitaries included the President and Chairman Cocharis Group, Dr. Cosmos Maduka, Group Chairman/CEO Juhel Group, Dr. Ifeanyi Okeke, who chaired the occasion and other entrepreneurs.