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SKILL ACQUISITION AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION PROGRAMME IN UYO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA.
Background to the Study
One of the major challenges facing developing and underdeveloped countries of the world is poverty. It has been so endemic as a result of the high rate of unemployment that has become the major characteristic of the developing and underdeveloped countries of the world. Although the level and magnitude of poverty and unemployment has been observed to be different within and across nations, it still remains the major obstacle to the success of the struggle for the optimum utilization of human resources for both social and economic development of nations.
The World Bank estimated that 1.29 billion people in the world were living in absolute poverty in 2008. Of these, about 400 million people in absolute poverty lived in India and 173 million people in China. In USA, 1 out of 5 children lives in poverty. In terms of percentage of regional populations, sub-Saharan Africa at 47% had the highest incidence rate of poverty in 2008 (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2013).
Africa entered the 21st century as the poorest, the most technologically backward, the most debt distressed and most marginalized region of the world, Economic Commission for Africa, (2001). With the position Nigeria occupy in Africa in terms of the share of population, one cannot but imagine the percentage of Nigerians that are affected by this debilitating monster called poverty and hence making the war against poverty one of the cardinal policy of government in Nigeria.
As Ajegi (2002) rightly observed, the poverty situation in Nigeria has indeed assumed a crisis dimension. Records from the Bureau of statistics show that about 67% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. The data further reveal that only 50% of the population has access to safe drinking water, while 38% cannot avail themselves of primary health care. It is estimated that about 70% of Nigerians consume less than 1/3 the minimum protein and vitamin intake due to low purchasing power. This statistics shows the very depth of poverty in Nigeria. It is dehumanizing and can be rated as a killer disease, which has assumed an epidemic state. Any responsible government will not go to sleep with such a terrible situation. The government of Nigeria through most of her policies and programmes has made tremendous effort towards changing the scenario in the country. Despite the effort of government in this direction, the “poverty virus” is getting more entrenched and spreading wider among the populace. This incidence is higher among the youth who falls within the age bracket of 15-35. The untrained and unskilled youth grows into an unemployable man who cannot be employed because of his lack of marketable skills to be engaged in a job that can adequately support his family. This makes it impossible for him to provide for his children in terms of education both at the formal and informal level to guarantee his wards self-sufficiency. Thus, the cycle continue with the generation after generation propagating this vicious cycle of poverty.
Available data also clearly indicate high and varying poverty level among the local governments in Akwa Ibom State. The data further showed that poverty in Akwa Ibom State increased sharply between 1998 – 2007. For instance, in 1998 the poverty level in Akwa Ibom State was 10.2 percent, and in 2001 it was 41.9 percent, in 2004 it rose to 45.5% and in 2005, it increased to 66% and in 2007, it hit 71%. Based on these facts, poverty and unemployment level in Akwa Ibom State is therefore indicated as indespread and deep-rooted. This is because the opportunities for sustainable livelihood are minimal. It is also a fact that in Akwa Ibom State the public section is the dominant job provider and this has serious implications on youth employment in the state.
With respect to the above, a revolution in vocational skill development has been observed among youths in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. This skill acquisition spread across many vocations like tailoring, shoe making, carpentry, furniture, hair dressing, catering services, welding, automotive mechanic, computer business service, etc. The idea is that, if youths who were previously unskilled and unemployed develop themselves in any of the vocations mentioned above, or any other food trade, one can forecast that in the nearest future, the local economy of Uyo Local Government Area vis-à-vis Akwa Ibom State, would be transformed with the youth empowered financially to contribute to economic growth and development of the Local Government and the State at large.
Powerful alleviation programme in Akwa Ibom State is focused on Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES). The scheme emphasizes on providing for training opportunities, skills acquisition, employment opportunities and wealth creation through enhanced income generation, improved social status and rural development. The scheme is primarily aimed at economically empowering the youth and emphases Capacity Acquisition Programme (CAP), Mandatory Attachment Programme (MAP) and Credit Delivery Programme (CDP). As a means of overcoming the difficulties of the past poverty alleviation programmes in tackling youth unemployment, the government of Akwa Ibom State decided to adopt Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) as a viable strategy in tackling youth unemployment. The key advantages of YES include the following:
i. It allows for tackling of poverty from a broad perspective so that the necessary impact can be felt by the youths;
ii. It builds a powerful sustained pressure (synergy) for fighting poverty through broad based participation in employment and wealth creation; and
iii. It provides a single strategy for tackling multi-poverty related and employment crisis. For instance, investment led centre of activities touches on different features of poverty by reducing them.
In view of the turn of event discussed above and the bureaucratic bottle-neck associated with the institutional approach, this research attempt to investigate if the skill acquisition and poverty alleviation in Uyo Local Government Area is potent enough to alleviate poverty through the creation of employment opportunity to the teaming unemployed youths in Uyo Local Government Area and Akwa Ibom State. at large.
This study is divided into four major sections. Following the introduction is the theoretical and conceptual issue which takes a look at other works done before now. This is followed by qualitative analysis of phenomenon under study which include sub-sections like analysis of subject and assessment of subject/issue area i.e study area, sample selection, types of data collected and the analytical tools. The next section provides results and discussion followed by the conclusion, policy implication and recommendations.
1.2 Objective of the Study
(a) The main objective of the study is to evaluate skill acquisition and poverty alleviation in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
(b) Subsidiary objectives:
i. To examine the extent to which skill acquisition has assisted in poverty alleviation in Uyo Local Government Area.
ii. To evaluate the impact of capacity building on poverty alleviation in Uyo Local Government Area.
iii. To find out whether the level of skill acquisition by residents of Uyo Local Government Area is sufficient to reduce poverty rate in the Local Government.
iv. To find out whether the level of Government spending on poverty alleviation programme in sufficient to reduce the poverty rate in the Local Government Area.
v. To make recommendation as to how skill acquisition and poverty alleviation programme can be properly channeled to reduce poverty in Uyo Local Government Area of Akw Ibom State.
1.3 Significance of the Study
This study is important because it addresses one of the dormant social problems facing Uyo Local Government Area. At the theoretical level, this work would contribute to the existing literature on skill acquisition and poverty alleviation. It’s policy prescriptions would afford researchers, policy makers and other bureaucrats the basis for making reference in the aspect of youth empowerment through skill acquisition and poverty alleviation.
1.4 Scope of the Study
The study in limited to Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. And would be restricted to skill acquisition measures to alleviate poverty.
1.5 Definition of Terms
v Skill: A Particular or special ability experience and knowledge in doing something.
v Acquisition: This is the act of getting something.
v Poverty: The state of being poor or a lack of something.
v Poverty Alleviation: This refers to a set of programmes. They may be institutional or fiscal aimed at lowering the level of poverty.
v Programme: A plan of action aimed at advancing pre-stated goals.
v Poor: This concept is used in this work to refer to people with little or no money to meet the basic necessities of life.