How we empower youths to develop Africa ― EU

The European Union (EU) has explained how it has been developing Africa, especially Nigeria, through empowering its youths in education, agriculture and human capital investment.

The Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, made the disclosure at the recent “2019 International Youth Day,” organised by the Junior Chamber Initiative (JCI).

Karlsen also stated at the departure orientation for the 2019 Erasmus+ Scholarship Awardees in the country that no less than N2.6bn has been expended in sponsoring Nigerian students to foreign universities in the last five years.

Speaking on EU’s passion for youth development in the continent, he said  “We put Africa, Nigeria especially, on top of our priority list in the area of education, job opportunities and human capital investment among the youths.

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“We give support in the education system that will at the end of the day create an opportunity for the youths in the country.

“These opportunities include industries through agricultural development that will engage the youths in various regions of the country.”

While asserting that Nigeria deserves nothing but the best among its contemporaries, the EU delegation head opined that efforts must be made to find solutions to the nation’s challenges through education, technology and digitisation.

He, however, revealed that over 30 million people between the age bracket of five and 40 years in Nigeria lacked access to education, adding that often a teacher oversees about 200 pupils in a classroom as against global best practices.

Karlsen explained that for 2019 alone, the EU has picked 40 Nigerian students out of about 1, 000 who applied for the Erasmus+ scholarship awards.

He disclosed that the beneficiaries would be availed the best universities in Greece, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Poland, the United Kingdom, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany.

The envoy said EU would foot the cost and travel expenses of the entire programme, adding “This is part of the global Erasmus programme that cost €14.7bn.

“It has supported thousands of scholars, thousands of researchers coming to Europe.

“In the case of Nigeria in particular, the European Union has invested €6.6m since 2014. That is equivalent to N2.6bn in supporting young people.”

Karlsen appealed to the beneficiaries of the scholarship to jealously protect and project the image of Nigeria through their good conduct as well as endeavour to contribute their quota to the growth and development of the country.

The envoy, who disclosed that EU had supported  Nigeria with over €600m (N243bn) in different development programmes across the country so far, said the EU has eloquently spoken through the programme that it was not against Africans migrating to Europe inasmuch such adventure followed due process.

Meanwhile, in his remark, the Director, UN Information Centre in Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, said the centre was engaging young people across the world, by ensuring that youths were carried along with developments in various countries.

“In Nigeria, the UN has 24 sub-agencies involved in education, children, woman, health and others to keep us accountable, participate, engage people and we want to do more,’’ he said.

The director said that there was a need for advocacy to engage more youths in the economy, health, education and Information Communication and Technologies (ICT).

President, JCI Nigeria, Adetola Juyitan, in his remarks, said the group was working on an educational transformation initiative to make global education entirely inclusive and accessible for all regardless of their background or where they reside.

He averred that illiteracy has remained one of the biggest challenges in 2019 in Nigeria

According to him, illiteracy ranks as one of the biggest menaces in 2019 in the country.

“This, therefore, implies that the educational space in our country needs a high level of transformation,” he said.

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