The School of Natural Resources Management, Njala Campus Skills Development Fund (SDF) Training Project has graduated 230 students in entrepreneurial skills development and empowerment of youth in sustainable mushroom cultivation and marketing for the value chain.
The graduation ceremony took place over the weekend at the Faculty Building, Njala campus with the Theme: “Production youth transformation through enhanced skills development”.
The skills development fund training project in Mushroom Value Chain is a project of the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) through a World Bank loan.
The Project Lead-SDF, Dr Peter D. Musa said for the past six months they have trained 230 students.
He encouraged them to form a team and engage government and business owners for partnership, and that they can also apply for a grant to start their production.
He emphasised that they will be visiting them to see how they are doing after the project.
“You have been given a very big opportunity if you don’t have skills, you are nothing,” he emphasized.
Speaking on the theme, the keynote speaker, Dr Matthew D. Kpundeh, Senior Lecturer and HOD, Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, pointed out that the opportunity is now in front of the grandaunts and that it is up to them to make a wise choice.
He described the day as a wonderful one for them as it was not easy for them to get the project.
According to Dr Kpundeh, the 6334 system of education was created not for them to have dropout but that one can become a dropout if they fail to have skills and job.
He encourages them to link up with friends and be kind to one another and also network for success.
“You character – attitude to work, discipline are your characters, it is very important. These are things people look for in a transformed youth. The mushroom has a value chain and makes it attractive,” he said.
Dean School of Natural Resources Management Prof Olufemi Julius Olapade disclosed that the Mushroom project grant is to the tune of up to 2 billion Leones.
He said SDF was born out of the mindset of the government to up the skillsets of the teaming unemployed and unemployable youth in Sierra Leone.
“This project led by Dr Musa was well delivered and implemented; the testimonies of the beneficiaries are not sufficient as a score card for evaluating performance, but the true story of success are the structures constructed and the equipment provided; the mushrooms we cooked at home, and the reach of the project to the nook and crannies of rural Sierra Leone,” he explained.
SDF Secretariat representative, Hon. Solomon Bangali said the project was to develop the middle manpower level.
He continued that the essence is not just training but what will be the outcome.
“We expect 65% to set up their own business after today,” he hoped.
He disclosed that the project is not from World Bank but a loan which the ministry took from World Bank.
He advised them not to just get the certificate and keep it but to make do with it because food security is an important national issue.
MTHE Chief Technical and Higher Education Officer, Dr Josephus Brima called on the grandaunts to choose the best path as education is the key to development but cultivating education is the most important key.
He emphasised that the ministry of education is moving away from the grammar school type of education to that of T-VET.
“We could add value to mushroom by creating employment for yourself which is far better than being employed. Keep on trying you will make it,” he encouraged.
The Chairman of the ceremony, Dr Sheku Alfred Kanu pointed out that Sierra Leone is looking up to them for the growth of their children.
“You have been given the skills to make Sierra Leone a better place in terms of nutrition,” he reiterated.
He called on them to be courageous and represent Njaja University well with their skills.
The declaration of graduation was done by the Deputy Registrar (HRMO), University Secretariat, Paul K. Ngaujah, who said that what the grandaunts make out of their skills falls under three categories which are called ASK (Attitude, Skills and Knowledge).
He said the project is in line with President Bio’s vision.
Grandaunts expressed thanks and appreciation to the government of Sierra Leone through MTHE.
They promised not to let them down as the power is now in their hands and they will utilise it wisely for the growth of themselves, their families and the nation.