Washington, U.S. — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved US$450 million for two projects in Nigeria to boost employment opportunities for young people in 20 states, and to improve education quality for millions of school children in the West African country.
The $300 million Nigeria Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) focuses on poor youth and the poorest 10 percent of households in participating states. It provides youth aged 18 to 35 with opportunities for work and skills training, and improved access to social services for the vulnerable. Importantly, the project supports the government in strengthening Nigeria's social safety net system. Qualifying households will receive regular cash transfers to improve family health and schooling.
The $150 million Nigeria State Education Program Investment Project (SEPIP) will serve millions of children in the three Nigerian states of Anambra, Bauchi and Ekiti by improving the quality of their schooling. The project links financing to results achieved through better teacher deployment and school management. It aims to improve measurement of student learning in government primary and secondary schools in these states.
"Investing in people is an essential part of Nigeria's strategy to reduce poverty and achieve steady economic growth," said Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, "I am delighted that we are supporting better schooling and earning prospects for millions of children and young people, while also cushioning some of the poorest families through a stronger social safety net system."
Financed by the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA*), these credits will support Nigeria's socio-economic development in line with the Federal Government's Transformation Agenda.
"Youth make up over half of Nigeria's population, yet 38 percent of them are either underemployed or unemployed and their education and skills levels are low," said Foluso Okunmadewa, World Bank Task Team Leader for the YESSO project. "The YESSO Project will help young people earn wages by planting trees or cleaning public spaces, get help with livelihood skills and job placement, and live in less vulnerable households. The project will also help the government create systems that can be used to protect poor households and individuals both now and in future."
Roslyn Olawunmi, Deputy Director, Vocational Skills, at the National Directorate of Employment in Nigeria believes that the project will benefit poor people. "We know the YESSO project will help young people to acquire skills and the opportunity to earn a decent living—some will work for wages while others will start their own businesses and hire others", she said. "At the end of the day, this will reduce poverty greatly among the poorest households."
The three states covered by the second project (SEPIP) aim to raise the quality of education by improving teacher availability in rural areas and for core subjects; introducing standardized state-level testing in English and Math; making technical and vocational education more relevant to the needs of employers and entrepreneurs; and strengthening school-level management and accountability.
"Rather than financing the educational system to keep it running, this education project shifts the focus to what the system is actually doing for children, by linking financing to the achievement of agreed results," said Irajen Appasamy, World Bank Task Team Leader for the SEPIP project. "The project is designed to make a real difference in the lives of children and youth, particularly girls and those from poor families, so that their education and skills help them join the jobs market as skilled adult workers."
The innovative and catalytic nature of the two projects helps to establish results and practices which could be scaled up and implemented by the state and federal authorities.