Ms Nathalaine Matilda Marfo, former student of Saint Louis College of Education (CoE), Kumasi, who recently won the COVID-19 Challenge Contest, has embarked on skills empowerment project for Junior High School (JHS) leavers in the Ashanti Region.
The project dubbed: “Marfo School Leavers Skills Empowerment Programme,” (MSLSEP) was organised for two basic schools in Old Tafo to empower and encourage the young adults to productively use their time and resources while waiting for their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) results.
The Programme was organised from the prize money she received for winning the COVID-19 Challenge Contest last month
She said the project would build the capacity of the youth towards a productive venture in an interview with the Ghana News Agency adding that it would also fill the gap in between completion of school and taking the next step after results were released.
She explained that, JHS leavers could do something worthwhile and earn money whilst awaiting their results and return to school next year; “we must help the youth to migrate from one stage to the other through the productive means”.
Ms Marfo said “We can’t watch the students to roam around till January 2021, when they migrate to the second cycle level, I decided to come up with this skill training programme to help them acquire abilities that will enable them earn some money as they wait for their results.
“The training programme focused on how to use beads for beautiful key holders, how to prepare liquid soap, local hygienic sobolo and fresh Yoghurt.
I was careful about selecting these things because they are items that can be started with less than GHC40.00 and is expected that our target group will start their own businesses with a small start-up”.
Ms Marfo explained that, “this initiative, apart from empowering them economically, will also keep them out of social vices and the ladies among from teenage pregnancies as they can make their own money”.
She recounted that, during her research programme for the challenge, “I came across a lot of issues in our communities and I think this is a way I can also help. To be honest, this programme was funded by the honorarium I received from for winning the COVID-19 challenge contest”.
Ms Marfo said the project would be extended to SHS leavers as well and even communities with vulnerable unemployed.
Mr Christian Cornelius, Chief Executive Officer, Excellence Wash manufacturer of liquid soap who facilitated the programme commended Ms Marfo for initiating the School Leavers Skills Empowerment Programme.
Mr Asumadu Frimpong, Headmaster Old Tarfo Methodist Model JHS who also participated in the project lauded it and noted that School leavers need such skills to move to the next stage.
The COVID-19 Challenge Contest, was initiated to encouraged student teachers to identify practical problems in their communities that prevented learners from gaining access to teaching and learning; and suggest workable solutions to improve the situation.
It was initiated by DFID to inspire innovation among student teachers to generate creative ways of making learning accessible to disadvantaged children in their communities.
The contest was organised through Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL) platform in conjunction with the Teacher Trainees’ Association of Ghana (TTAG) as a means to reach and gain response from a good number of student teachers and get more young voices into policymaking.
Professor Mohammed Salifu, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), who was the head of three-member panel of judges at the finals in Accra last month noted that the Ministry of Education together with its stakeholders initiated efforts to ensure teaching and learning continues through the use of various distance and virtual learning management systems.
He said it was important to put in place measures to encourage learners to learn and study outside of the classroom environment.
Ms. Bernice Bangfu, Coordinator T-TEL Policy, Leadership and Institutional Development Component, said the new phase of emergency remote education had revealed a stark digital divide among learners.