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Youth empowerment through quality education

This paper considers quality education, its importance to youth empowerment and in what ways it empowers.The paper recommended proper implementation of the curriculum, continued Teacher Education, adequate budgetary allocation and priority for education and parental encouragement to mention a few.Nigeria celebrated another Independence Day recently marking her 53rd anniversary; however the pace of development and that at which policy decisions of government and by extension its policy makers are implemented, is not commensurate with how long she has been an independent state.

It is believed that one sure way of measuring the responsiveness or otherwise of any government in the world today, is in its quick implementation of key policy agreement or decisions that will boost the advancement of any sector such policy is formulated As a resul t, it is not surprising to observe that nations that want to be reckoned with in terms of youth empowerment, religious tolerance, technological advancement, national transformation etc strive to position education as a focal point in its march towards development.

It is in the face of this, that the steady decline in the overall standard of education cross all tiers in the nation therefore that education experts have continued to clamour for initiatives that would promote massive development of the sector that is daily experiencing backwardness.

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In fact, many graduates cannot express themselves properly. Some in practical disciplines can’t practice what they have supposedly learnt in school.

While some in offices lack adequate knowledge and sit idling away redundantly due to lack of empowerment. To empower means “to promote self-actualization or influence of” something or someone (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000) or to “make (someone) tronger and more confident, especially in control of their life and rights” (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 6th edition). Empowerment can therefore be said to be the process of increasing the educational, social, economic, political etc strength of an individual.

Opeyemi (The Punch, 2013) quoting Olatokunbo Somolu, chairman, Board of Trustees for Vision 20:2020 in his address at the 16th Vision 20:2020 Career Workshop in Lagos earlier this year noted that “one of the steps needed to move the nation forward is through youth empowerment”. He explained that youth empowerment as a tool for evelopment is an attitudinal, structural and cultural process whereby young people gain the skill, ability and authority to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people (youths and adults inclusive) and the society in general.

He further said, miouth empowerment is often addressed as a gateway to intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. The need to guide and nurture our youth who are the future of our great country Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized and further pointed out that empowering of youths is an investment that pays off anytime, anywhere. Adding that, by investing in youths, government corporations, communities, NGOs and individuals can help prepare the youths for the challenges ahead”. Many things can be said to be responsible for non empowerment, under empowerment or inadequate empower.

For instance, Oyeleye ( in SUN 2013:45) quoted an Oba saying ” youths nowadays see elders especially those in power as the problem of the nation having failed to provide for them, thus mortgaging the future of the nation”. He further said that “for this nation to see a brighter future, government must devote resources to developing youths and empowering them etore they learn and operate a new style ot internal terrorism”. This paper however, is not meant to ascribe blame but to promote youth empowerment through quality education. With that said, who then are the youths of a society? What is quality education?

How can quality education bring about youth empowerment? What are the imperatives for achieving such education? YOUTH AND YOUTH EMPOWERMENT Youth is “a time of life when one is young especially the period between childhood or adolescence and maturity’ (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000). It is “the period between childhood and adult age” (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 6th dition). It is at this age or period of live that an individual is formed. The lessons, morals, values etc picked up or learnt at this stage of life that shapes who the individual becomes in the future.

It is therefore paramount at this age, to promote self- actualization and increase the educational, social, economic, political etc strength of an individual. Youth empowerment occurs in homes, at schools, through youth organizations, government policy-making and community organizing campaigns. Major structural activities where youth empowerment happens throughout society include community ecision-making, organizational planning, and education reform. It is often addressed as a gateway to intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building.

Many local, state, national, and international government agencies and nonprofit organizations provide programs centered on youth empowerment. Activities involved therein may focus on youth-led media, youth rights, youth councils, youth activism, youth involvement in community decision- making etc Even in politics, major political parties in the world have statements supporting youth empowerment. It is also a central tenet of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which almost every country in the world (if not all) has signed into law.

Presently, there are a variety of youth empowerment initiatives underway around the world. The 53 member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations have all signed up to the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (2007-2015). The Plan of Action underpins the work of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). On the Commonwealth definition, “Young people are empowered when they acknowledge that they have or can create choices in life, are aware of the implications of those choices, make an intormed decision treely, ake action based on that decision and accept responsibility for the consequences of those actions.

Empowering young people means creating and supporting the enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms, rather than at the direction of others. ” QUALITY EDUCATION In any form or way it is presented, education is vital for human and national development.

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Through it, people acquire basic skills and attitudes by which they make meaningful living and coexistence (Okwuolise, 2005). Education brings about refinements, sobriety, dynamism, faith, technological advancement, empowerment, elf regard, aggregation etc (Okwuolise 1999).

Osifo-Whiskey (in Okwuolise, 2005) said that “learning and knowledge determines what people or society is, backward or advanced, civilized or primitive, enlightened or in darkness. Learning and knowledge are the equivalent of thinking in the matter of who is man or who is an animal”. Education however does not only achieve these, it “accretes equally national development and transformation, depending on the aspirations of the nation and the objectives intended to be achieved by it” (Okwuolise, 2005).

From the foregoing, if considered in a formal sense, education is a process of nstruction for the purpose of preparing the learners to become useful to themselves and the society. It is therefore no wander, Onah et al (2012:41) defined education as “the process of transmitting what is worthwhile (desirable skills, knowledge, attitude, aptitude etc) to those who are committed to it, whether they are children, youths or adults in the hope of promoting their usefulness to themselves and the society’.

Quality on the other hand means “of high worth, value or standard” (American Heritage Dictionary, 1996), or “degree or standard of excellence” (Collins English Dictionary, 2000). Quality education therefore means education that is of high or valuable standard, adequate and with valid teaching or instructional outings in terms of method and content. It must also, reflect the three domains of education (the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains).

It therefore goes without saying that, there are certain societal expectations or traits an empowered person (child, youth or adult) is expected to manifest. Along the line of philosophy and the line of educational domains as seen above, the empowered man should; l. Be a man of knowledge, i. e. e must be well grounded in what he is supposed to do, or what he is exposed to. II. Be of good nature with good relation and must be a sociable person and not a recluse Ill field of empowerment.

Be able to practically pertorm and deliver . By and by, if we are to examine the role and importance of quality education in youth empowerment, much could be said. This paper however limits itself to the following areas where quality education accretes to youth empowerment; Knowledge and Insight Knowledge is the “acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art or echnique”, “range of one’s information or understanding” while insight is the “ability to understand people and situations in a very clear way’ (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000).

One of the attributes of quality education is the ability to instill in learners (in this case, youths) the total understanding and a range of information in a very clear way of who they are, what they want, can be and their role in nation building and transformation. It gives them the ability to apply theory and principles learnt, discriminatory analysis and sharpen their mental reflexes by which they are able to contribute in problem olving whenever the situation arises.

Approval This is “the belief that something or someone is good or acceptable: a good opinion of someone or something” (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000). It refers to “when someone likes something or someone and thinks that they are good” (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English). Quality education instills in one traits, attitudes and capabilities that makes him/her acceptable and considered good enough anywhere, anytime. Such people are always involved in issues that enhance national development and transformation. Even the ible said “study to show thyself approved…. a workman that needeth not to be ashamed…. ” (2 Tim: 2v1 5). Responsibility and Discipline Responsibility is “the state of being the person who caused something to happen” while discipline is an “orderly conduct or pattern of behavior” (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000). A person empowered through quality education is a doer; always taking charge and making things happen instead of Just sitting back and letting others do the work. Such a person always conducts himself/herself in orderly manners and with refined behavior. nation.

This group ot people is those who can contribute to the progress ot any Self Reliance and Confidence Self-reliance is “the reliance on one’s own effort and abilities” while Confidence is “a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something” (Merriam- Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000). When one’s education is of high standards, the person understands he/she is in control of their live and will always trust in his [her abilities, believing that success can be achieved at whatever task being given since the necessary information required to succeed has been duly imparted.

It is obvious then that, quality education makes a man confident and confidence in turn gives him the impetus to rely on his effort. Resourceful This means being “able to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations” (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2000). An empowered person who has knowledge and insight, is confident and self-reliant, disciplined and responsible will be able to think outside the box. He is not easily put down by difficulties and challenges. Imperatives of Quality Education It is now obvious that quality education empowers.

Be that as it may, there are ertain necessities which are sine-qua-non for engendering quality education. They include: l. Educators must do their Job of educating thoroughly well. II. Provision of adequate infrastructure which includes good learning environments and classrooms. Ill. Employment of well trained, competent and professional teachers and educators. IV. Provision of adequate learning materials including well equipped libraries and laboratories. V. Organizing field trips, excursions and industrial (practical) trainings. VI.

Provision of teaching aids including public address systems and visual aids. VI’. Parental encouragement and support. VIII. Incentives for outstanding performances and performers. ‘X. Introduction and proper implementation of quality curriculum. X. Prioritization of the education sector in terms of budgetary allocation and funding. X’. Continuous teacher education. XII. Teacher motivation. Summary and Conclusion Through the ages, education has been known to be the antidote to poverty and ignorance, and key for unlocking natural resources ( ObaJi, in Onuoha, 2006).

She stated that no nation striving for accelerated development does so without first developing its educational system. According to her; the visibility and publicity which ducation has enjoyed in recent times derives from the importance attached to education in national development. Quality education ensures the development of knowledgeable, insightful, self-reliant, skilled, disciplined, and a healthy population with the capacity to drive and sustain the socio-economic development of the nation.

It goes without saying therefore, that in order to enable the youth to contribute constructively to the society; it is imperative to improve the quality of the educational system to ensure that the products of our educational institutions become critical thinkers, problem solvers nd accomplished leaders. There is therefore, a strong connection between education and national growth and development. Education not only provides scientific and technical skills, it also provides the motivation, Justification and social support for pursuing them.

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