By Ese Obote-Ogwu
The Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration has proven beyond cynicism to be a youth-friendly government in all ramifications with its score of youth investment programmes. It is believed across many climes that investing in Delta youth is one bold stride that has rekindled hope for living by rewinding them with the countless mindset change and value re-orientation programmes and human capital development projects. One of the best legacies that can be given to this agile and unique generation is to empower them now.
Since the inception of this administration, an array of youth empowerment programmes has been launched to target different youth categories by addressing their yearnings and desires of which many youths have benefited from and have come out to boldly testify to its multiplier effects in their lives, families and communities.
One thing is clear. Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa believes in raising and building an army of entrepreneurs, who can contribute to the growth of the local economy by creating jobs and affecting their community positively. The governor did not leave out the rural communities just as he attended to the urban and semi-urban communities in his empowerment programmes. This kind gesture gave birth to the Rural Youth Skill Acquisition Programme (RYSA).
RYSA, a flagship programme of the Delta State Government domiciled with the Ministry of Youth Development, was borne out of the need to lift youths in the rural areas of Delta State out of unemployment by providing skills training and start – up support. It is designed to enhance the practical hands-on training, business and life skills of 810 interested youths of Delta State origin across 270 federal wards in the state who have already acquired relevant skills in their chosen vocations, demonstrated passion and dexterity, and need start-up to launch their businesses.
The Ministry of Youth Development ably led by the commissioner, Comrade Ifeanyi Egwunyenga and his team, worked tirelessly to ensure that the mandate of the governor was achieved. In year 2020, the ministry launched and graduated a total of 776 pioneer beneficiaries across 10 skills areas and these are: Fashion Design, Catering and Confectioneries, Alumni Profiling, Tiling, Make-over, Wood Work & Furniture, POP Screed-making & Painting, Hairdressing, Plumbing, Welding and Fabrication. It is worthy to note that over 86 percent of these beneficiaries are very active in business, gaining traction in their communities and becoming trainers with various empowerment programmes like WESAP
In a bid to improve the RYSA programme, the ministry expanded the skills from 10 to 11 to cater for the increasing demands across the communities. The selection process for both trainers and trainees was more rigorous, and accomplished through a detailed and empirical approach using a combination of skill and knowledge-based interview and proficiency tests to select the best-fit trainers and eligible trainees from applications received.
The 2021 cycle of RYSA trainees, for 12-weeks went through practical hands-on participatory training sessions, designed to upscale mastery of their skills. During this period the trainees and trainers were constantly assessed by the Directorate of Youth Monitoring and Mentoring (DYMM) and the Ministry’s Assessment Team (MAT) to ensure that standards and procedures of the programme were strictly adhered to.
The Community Business School (CBS), an implant into the RYSA programme designed to imbibe in the trainees’ vital business and life skills is geared towards developing their entrepreneurial drive, leadership capacity and the essence of community service. It is further aimed at enabling them to identify and take advantage of opportunities in digital marketing and business networking to support their business start-ups.
The RYSA trainees in the course of their Community Business School identified community needs in their various LGAs and took collective actions to proffer solutions for challenges across the local government areas/
Their initiatives ranged from drilling of borehole in market, enrollment of indigent community youths into free skill training, donation of educational materials, painting of school Fences and maintenance of facilities at their local government secretariat to sensitization against social vices and the need to embrace skill acquisition across schools and communities, sanitation exercise and a host of other activities
The RYSA 2021 cycle graduated an outstanding 786 beneficiaries, bringing the total number of graduates to 1,562. The beneficiaries have distinguished themselves, saw the chance, made their choices and upheld the values of the RYSA programme by maintaining an organic level of competence with good character and commitment while imbibing the spirit of volunteering and also gave back to the society.”
The CBS instructors were exceptional and gave it their all, to ensure that well groomed RYSA ambassadors were birthed with the right character, life and business skills.
It can be categorically stated that “RYSA is not that ordinary youth development programs but classical top-notch youth investment programme worthy of domesticating. RYSA 2020 and 2021 cycle completed and finished strong.