By Derrick Kapolo
Development of entrepreneurial and vocational skills tops youth development agenda for Malawi government. Among other interventions, the government has constructed and opened youth technical colleges in various districts of the country and some are in the pipeline.
The idea is to empower the country’s youth who contribute more than 60 percent of the total population and most of them lack tangible economic opportunities once they finish their secondary education.
The Malawi Lake Basin Programme (MLBP) has thus joined the government’s call for youth development by supporting training of 50 youths from its impact areas in various vocational skills.
MLBP is a sustainable rural livelihood improvement programme being implemented as a consortium that comprises of National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO), Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) and two International Non-Governmental Organizations namely: We Effect, and Vi-Agroforestry. The programme is being funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy with We Effect leading the implementation course.
Through its fifth outcome objective that aims at achieving increased empowerment of women, youth and vulnerable groups, MLBP partnered with Stephanos Vocational Training Centre to train 50 youths in various vocation skills. The youths were equally drawn from Mangochi and Salima with 50 percent gender representation.
Under the four months intensive training programme, the youths specialized in four trades of: Brick laying, tailoring and designing, carpentry and joinery, and electrical installation. The MLBP supported all the expenses for the training including participants’ stipend.
The pinnacle of the youth development programme was a fortnight ago, when the youths had graduation ceremonies in Mangochi and Salima and the Malawi Lake Basin Programme handed over various start-up tools to the graduates at both ceremonies and they were also presented with certificates from TEVETA.
Presenting the certificates TEVETA’s Senior Training Programme Specialist Felix Chalamanda, emphasized that the graduates are duly certified as they have undergone through all the processes as required by TEVETA.
And speaking on behalf of the MLBP, John Magombo urged the youths to fully utilize the skills they have acquired so that they benefit the wider communities they come from and to avoid selling of the start-up tools.
Magombo also reported that this is a second cohort of graduates as the first cohort of 46 youths graduated in 2016.
The Principal of the Stephanos Vocational Centre urged the graduates to continue upgrading themselves and to share the skills they have acquired with fellow youths from various youth clubs of their respective areas.
Chairperson for Mangochi District Council Education Committee Frackson Chiphwanya, who was the guest of honor at the Mangochi graduation ceremony, applauded MLBP for supporting government’s efforts in youth development and indicated that the vocational skills will help in retaining the youths in the district as most of them migrate to South Africa in search of economic opportunities. He thus promised the graduates that the council will strive to incorporate them in various development projects being implemented by the council.
Salima District Council Chair Evason Mpayani, who was the guest of honor at the Salima graduation, shared the same sentiments.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Hawa Billy, thanked MLBP for the support and testified that she has already started reaping from the skills she has acquired as she is able to provide for her needs and supporting her parents with basic necessities.
The graduation ceremonies were presided over by MLBP district offices and were attended by chiefs, officials from the ministry of labour, district youth office, parents, and politicians.