Oyo to benefit from WATEA programme

Oyo State has been selected among states to benefit in the Women in Agricultural Technical Education and Apprenticeship (WATEA), which intends to train youths and women in agriculture as well as provide them with apprenticeship opportunities in the private sector.

Director-General of the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), Dr Debo Akande, disclosed this on Monday, when the state governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, received the Regional Agriculture Counsellor, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, Dr Sonia Darracq and the Head of Capacity Development Office, WATEA Coordinator, Mrs Zaina Sore, in Ibadan.

According to Akande, the French Government has offered to support the state government in addressing the gap existing in agribusiness in terms of skills and competencies.

He added that the WATEA team has been working with the Oyo State College of Agricultural Technology (OYSCATECH), Igboora, noting that the institution’s curriculum is being revamped, while its teachers and students will also be supported.

He said: “Oyo State has a long standing relationship with the French Government, especially in the area of agriculture and health as well as education. And this is one of such collaborations that we are having. 

@Oyo State has been selected being one of the most strategic places for the project, which focuses strongly on apprenticeship in Agribusiness where young people will be trained and become apprentices in the private institutions.

“We all know the gap existing in agribusiness; the deficit in terms of skills and competencies. And what the French government is doing is to support us to provide that now at this particular point in time. 

“They are working strongly with OYSCATECH. Now, we are revamping our curriculum and supporting the teachers within the schools and supporting the students as well. We are aiming that the outcome of this programme would have very strong, skilled, young people that can become entrepreneurs and can support the constant increase we are seeing in the agribusiness where we have a lot of private sectors that are coming. 

“The state is committed to this project and they can bear witness to that based on everything this Team has requested from the Governor, which has been approved. 

“So, this means a lot for Oyo State, the students and even to the LAUTECH. Almost everything they requested has been approved by His Excellency.”

Earlier, the representative of the French Government, Dr. Darracq, said the team was in Ibadan to visit the governor concerning the WATEA programme, which is funded by the French Government and is to last two years.

Darracq said: “The programme targets the Polytechnics and Technical Colleges of Agriculture all around the country, especially in Oyo State. 

“We are looking for the support of the government for the programme to become sustainable when the support of the French government will end in Oyo State.

“The programme would have more youths properly trained in agricultural techniques in connection with the French Technical Colleges of Agriculture. 

“With me here today, there are two French Colleges from the French Ministry of Agriculture in order to ensure that we will link the Technical Colleges of Agriculture from Oyo State with their counterparts in France. 

“By so doing, we will also initiate exchanges; Nigerian students going to France and vice versa in order to be exposed to what we do in France so that when they come back, they can have a big impact in the agricultural sector in the state.”

Darracq commended Governor Makinde for his offer to support the programme.

Similarly, Mrs Sore of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), who is also the Coordinator of the WATEA programme, said the programme began a year ago and that Oyo State is one of the six beneficiary states.

“The programme started a year ago and we have selected Oyo as one of the six states in Nigeria to work in as well as a few agricultural schools including polytechnics.

“What we want to do is to bring together a new way of doing education, meaning focusing on increasing problem skills and competencies as well as immersing and linking them with the industries. 

“So, the way the project is going to run is that we have some youths going through practical trainings through this project. We will also try to link them back to these industries for their internship and apprenticeship programme.

“We also want to create a platform where they can have exchanges in France and Nigeria on how to enhance technical education in Nigeria and also share what we have been doing here in Nigeria with our French counterpart. It is really about a win-win situation. 

“We are already in the process of reviewing the training materials with the different Technical Schools and, by September, we will start rolling out the trainings. 

“The objective of the programme is to train at least 2,500 youths in which 80 per cent will be women and a part of the beneficiaries will come from the schools in Oyo State,” she said.

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