The Countryside Emerging Leaders Fellowship (CELF), a civil society organisation, is changing the plight of Kwara rural students.
To this end, a two-week leadership programme was organised for 32 of them, a male and a female each from the core rural areas across the 16 local governments in the state.
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The selection process saw CELF partnered with the Ministry of Education to identify rural schools from the list of all the approved secondary schools in the state.
The principals of the selected rural schools then nominated a coordinator that identified six of their best students.
Interview and essay writing competition were conducted for the nominated students to select the best 32 for the two-week leadership training held at the Army Headquarters, Sobi, Ilorin.
Facilitators and mentors were invited to impact the students including Dr Kadiri Khadihat Kehinde of University of Ilorin who won the 2021 Gani Fawehinmi Impact Award for her work in combining photography with community development activities.
The students were exposed to three thematic areas of self-development, entrepreneurship and community development.
The students, who were later inducted as Fellows, were granted full scholarships by the Kwara State government with a charge to domesticate the knowledge and development mindset to positively impact their various communities.
Speaking to North Central Trust, the founder of CELF, Lawal Olalekan Olohungbebe, a community development practitioner, said the essence of the programme was to create a similar platform for rural youths as obtained in the urban areas to enable them further their education and become more productive.
He said: “We want to ensure that whatever path they may choose, they should have the knowhow to give back to the society regardless of their chosen professions”.
One of the resource persons and Executive Director, Brain Builders Development Initiative, Abideen Olasupo, described the initiative as a “brilliant one”.
“To expose secondary school students to such knowledge, resources and networking is amazing. This is what is happening in the United States and other European countries and there is every need to expand it nationally”.
A female student of the Comprehensive High School, Ilofa, Oke-Ero Local Government, Adeshina Bidemi Joy, described the experience as “mind blowing”.
“I used to think I cannot achieve like others from urban areas. But that has changed. Those of us from a “disadvantaged environment” should even be more confident of achieving our dreams, thanks to this platform. We can speak to government on political activities we perceive are not going well”.
On his part, Tijani Ibrahim, a student of Muideen Arabic Secondary School in Ilorin South said “Before, I easily gave up on whatever I was doing, especially when I could not achieve it on time. But this programme has changed my orientation and perception about our environment and future”.
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