YAD and YRA Certify 62 Tech-Voc Students in Kenema with Business Startup Kits.

Youth in Action for Development (YAD) and its educational offshoot, Youth Resource Academy (YRA), on Wednesday, 20/12/2023, certified 62 students after two years of successful training in diverse skills. YRA was co-established by YAD and its overseas partner, Fambul Tik.

The ceremony, which started with the graduands dressed in their academic gowns processioning through the city onto the YAD headquarters at Maxwell Kobe Street in Kenema, was attended by many stakeholders, including the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Ministry of Labor, Kenema District Council, Kenema City Council, youth organizations among others.

62 Candidates awaiting graduation

In his welcoming address, Mr James Koiva Senesie, a senior tutor of YRA who chaired the occasion, welcomed the guests and thanked them for coming. He further called on the graduands to remain disciplined, humbled and focused after graduation. “By so doing”, he said, “your families shall be happy to see you all become positive change makers who would bring sustainable development to the country”. He further thanked YAD/YRA for the opportunity to chair the occasion.

In her statements on behalf of YAD, the Finance and Social Enterprise Manager, Isata  Ngombulango, disclosed that admission into the Youth Resource Academy is a full scholarship for every student as the tuition is 100% free. Courses offered include dress-making, cosmetology/ beauty therapy, food and nutrition, screen designing and printing, secretarial and office management, ICT, sports and fitness. “So far”, she stated further, “YAD pays our highly qualified teachers with the support of some philanthropists in Germany since the government has yet to support us financially”. She added that at the end of every training, students are provided with startup kits to establish their own artisan enterprises to maintain sustainability. She points out that the institution uses a monitoring and follow-up mechanism to ensure that the graduates live decent lifestyles with their families and utilize the startup kits for the intended purpose. Ngombulango appealed to all parents and guardians to ensure their children take advantage of the opportunity by enrolling them into the institution in subsequent years.

“We are young citizens who want to effect positive social changes in our society, and we do so regardless of tribal, religious, political or social differences”, she concluded.

In his keynote address, Othman Sheriff, Director of Fambul Tik, disclosed that the main objective of the institute is to contribute to middle-level workforce development so as to eradicate youth and female unemployment and foster peace and development in the country. “As a philanthropic institution”, he said, “YAD, in collaboration with  Fambul Tik, has complemented efforts of the government on diverse fronts, including agriculture and food security, community health and sanitation, social entrepreneurship, education, conflict mitigation among the youths and sport etc.”

“Some of us left the country shortly after the war in search of economic safe-haven abroad, and we have experienced how difficult it is for a poor youth to survive in another man’s land”.

He further explained that “the lack of access to reliable income through marketable skills and public/private finances that could ensure independent living grossly undermines the voice of the youth. They are faced with the powerful forces of misinformation and disinformation via social media, which misguided them completely. They are stretched beyond the limit, exhausted with the struggle to survive today and fight for the future. They often run from the sun only to dive into the hot water while searching for a better life. Some are fleeing the country as domestic workers in the Middle East, mostly abandoning their beloved ones, including children; some go to the “Temple-run”, traveling through the dreadful Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures in Europe; some are brainwashed into troublemakers by power-thirsty compatriots; others have become Okada riders to feed their families” he said.

  Mr Mohamed Abu Sandi speaking

“Consequently”, Sheriff went further, “many youths with high potential to contribute to the country’s socioeconomic growth have resorted to abusing harmful drugs, especially Kush, marijuana and cocaine, leading to severe mental illness, lawlessness and violence. The numbers of insane and lawless youth marauding the streets have exponentially increased over the years, thereby grossly undermining peace and security for peaceful citizens. Such youths are prone to become arm rubbers, instruments of destabilization during electioneering processes. The above tells every peace lover that the average Sierra Leonean youth needs to be sensitized on tolerance, political pluralism, lawful and peaceful settlement of conflicts as democratic values, and to be united and develop confidence in themselves to recognize the danger posed by harmful drugs, and the needs to see the clear line of demarcation between politics, culture, religion and fundamental human rights”.

Startup packages ready to be distributed

As the adage goes “he quoted: “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” He invited every jobless youth in the region to grab the opportunity offered by YAD and YRA and utilize it as a stepping stone to build the future. 

Addressing the podium as a guest of honour and grand patron, Mr Mohamed Abu Sandi pleaded to stakeholders and line ministries, especially the Ministry of Higher and Technical Education, to support the institution so that it can continue complementing efforts of the central government in the area of technical and vocational education and job creation for the youths. He concluded by donating the sum of 20,000 New Leones to ease the burden of teachers` stipends.

According to the principal, Mrs Agnes Sam, the institute was granted permission by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education in 2020 to operate as a TVET center in line with the 2004 Education Act and the two strategic pillars of TVET policy adopted in 2019: Enhancing Access to TVET Programmes and Developing Skills for Jobs. The institute is currently catering for 175 students enrolled in diverse fields with 17 tutors and 4 administrative staff.  

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, the Regional Officer, Aloysius Dumbuya assured the managements of YRA and YAD of his commitment to support their efforts whenever the opportunity arises, adding that the government is supporting similar programs in other parts of the country. He called on the graduands to make good use of the skills they have acquired.

Offering a vote of thanks on behalf of all graduates, Patricia Koroma thanked the staff and management of YAD /YRA and their parents /guardians for supporting them to reach their current destination in life. She assured them that they will live up to expectations. She appealed to other youths and women out there to make use of the opportunity by enrolling at YRA in subsequent years to acquire livelihood skills and become valuable citizens.

The occasion ended with the conferment of certificates and startup packages to the graduands, including sewing machines, cooking utensils, cosmetic and hairdressing equipment worth thousands of Leones.

About CEN 755 Articles
Critique Echo Newspaper is a major source of news and objective analyses about governance, democracy and human-right. Edited and published in Kenema city, eastern Sierra Leone, the outlet is generally referred to as a level plying ground for the youths, women and children.

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