The Federal Government has announced plans to launch the School-to-Work Scheme to address the challenges of the skill gap and graduate unemployment in the country.

Accordingly, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) is mandated to establish and equip vocational centres to support training in a variety of trades in existing junior secondary schools across the country.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, made this known on Thursday in Abuja at a meeting of UBEC management with stakeholders, comprising Commissioners of Education and Chairmen of States’ Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), among others.

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“The purpose of this meeting is to deliberate on one of the innovations being introduced to make our educational system relevant and useful to the learners and meet the needs of the country.

“The National Council on Education (NCE) at its 2018 meeting approved and mandated the Universal Basic Education Commission to design and implement a skills acquisition programme called SCHOOL-to-WORK SCHEME for the young learners at the basic education level, with the goal of equipping them with life-long skills and entrepreneurship for self-reliance,” he stated.

He said the target group for the scheme are young learners in junior secondary schools, explaining that this would provide the opportunity for learners to detect early in life where their talents and potential lie between academic pursuit and vocational skills development.

Bobboyi, however, explained that the scheme would be piloted in some centres in the States and FCT before scaling it up across the country.

He said the scheme would save the country the wastage being experienced after junior high school education, whereby those who are not academically inclined have no skills to develop for sustenance.

“It is expected that ultimately, generations of school leavers who are productive, self-employed, and contributing to the economic well-being of the country will emerge,” he said.

“The scheme is structured to provide at least six months of training, broken into two months per year of study in the junior secondary school, adding that within this period, the basics of a variety of trades would be taught, on which the learners could build after completing the junior secondary education.

“It is also designed to enable those students who may not be transiting to the senior secondary schools immediately to continue to specialise in their chosen trades until they are able to establish themselves on their own.

“Vocational and technical education are major components of the foundation of modern and emerging industrialised nations.

“It, therefore, behoves us, as a country aspiring to industrialise and grow our economy, to pay greater attention to the development of that sub-sector of education,” he said.

He called for the support of the commissioners and other stakeholders to ensure the success of the implementation of the scheme.

“The role of the federal government is to support the efforts of these tiers of government. It is in view of this that we have invited the Hon. Commissioners of Education from across the country with the Executive Chairmen to deliberate on the scheme so that at the end of the proceedings we would resolve to give our maximum cooperation for the achievement of the goal of the scheme and for the States to ultimately take ownership,” he said.

Director of Basic Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr Folake Davies, said the scheme, which is in line with the road map policy of the ministry, is designed to provide youths with the requisite experience necessary to excel whenever they find themselves in the working environment.

Davies, who was represented by Rose Onoja, added that only collaborative effort from the federal, state, and local government levels and active involvement from the private sector will make the implementation of the programme successful.

Director, Special Programmes of UBEC, Dr. Aisha Abdul, said in her remarks that the meeting was called to solicit support and buy-in for the collective efforts to implement the School-to-Work Scheme aimed at providing lifelong skills for livelihood improvement and self-reliance in basic education graduates.

Deputy Executive Secretary (Technical), UBEC, Bala Zakari, while giving an overview of the scheme, said it was designed to be learners’ focused apprentices so as to provide them with market-skilled, ready graduates.

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