COVID-19: Youth and Sports Ministry expands digital training, innovation opportunities for Youth

Mr. Sunday Dare

The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has launched a slew of online training initiatives and programmes to keep youth engaged during the COVID-19 lockdown. Through its digital skills online training, its Youth Innovation Series, Webinars and E-Sports initiatives the Youth and Sports Ministry is delivering opportunities to the youth and Nigerians.

The IBM in partnership with the Ministry three weeks ago commenced the online digital skills training with over 7,000 youth participating with the chance to get IBM badges.

The new addition is the Webinars set to start next week. It will be thrice weekly webinars to further increase online interaction and study in areas of interest to the youth.

This is even as the Ministry increased the tempo of its training programmes and added other initiatives targeted at sustaining youth and sports development during the lockdown.

The webinars were added in response to the interest expressed by those that have taken part in the online training provided by the Ministry in conjunction with IBM. More than 7000 youth have participated in the digital training, with the highest numbers of them opting for courses in coding, data science and cyber security, creating the trend that made the webinars necessary.

The schedule for the one-hour webinars has Introduction to Emerging Technologies and Possibilities billed for Monday April 27, 2020; Introduction to Cloud on Wednesday April 29; and Introduction to Data Science and Analytics is set to hold on Friday May 1. The second week will kick off with Introduction to Artificial Intelligence on Monday May 4, 2020; Introduction to Blockchain on Wednesday May 6 and; Developing Interpersonal Skills on Friday May 8 while other courses will be added over time.

The Ministry is currently engaging Mobile Network Operators to provide subsidized data for accessing the online training while it has also initiated a Youth Innovation Series that encourages youth to develop solutions to Nigerian challenges in addition to a 60-Day App Challenge where the youth can submit apps developed in areas of Fintech, Agritech, Edutech, e-government and e-sports. Winners in the app challenge, which will soon be launched, are set to get monetary and royalty prizes as well incubation and mentorship in government approved hubs.

Meanwhile, the Ministry is not leaving out sports during the lockdown as the Minister, Mr Sunday Dare noted that “We cannot leave sport behind as the Covid 19 pandemic fell right at the doorstep of Edo 2020, it affected a great number of athletes that were poised to earn their well-deserved prize money in the competition.”

According to him, COVID-19 has left many Nigerian athletes in a financial strait and the Ministry has for this reason announced the setting up an Athletes Relief Fund, ARF, to assist in the day to day expenses for out of work athletes, which sports promoter, Kunle Soname has kick started with 10 million naira.

In addition, the Ministry has made provision for athletes to keep fit even during the lockdown with high performance center made available on rotational basis for pockets of training that conform with social distancing requirement.

Mr. Dare said the Ministry is in talks with the CBN to help process youth entrepreneurs to benefit from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) COVID 19 Fund for SMEs to support those that are interested in entrepreneurship. “Boosting Youth Entrepreneurship is one of the surest ways out of youth unemployment when fully back by easy access to credit. The Ministry in a renewed effort will see to accelerate this,” the Minister said.

Media Office to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development