From William Jalulah
SOME 2,000 beneficiaries, mostly women, who were trained in basket weaving for six months in the Upper East Region, graduated on Monday. The training was an initiative of Craft Pro Ghana Limited, in collaboration with the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP).
Henry Kangah, Director of Craft Pro Ghana, said one of the major challenges facing the youth of the country was low employment opportunities, and that it was in fulfillment of creating sustainable jobs for the youth, that the NYEP and Craft Pro Ghana sought to train 2,000 beneficiaries in straw basket weaving in the Upper East Region.
Each beneficiary was taken through six months of specialised training in straw basket weaving, and entrepreneurial skills development.
According to Mr. Kangah, the graduation of the beneficiaries should be seen as a transition into the second phase of the project, which is the set-up stage. This stage is the exit strategy of the beneficiaries which was put place by the NYEP and Craft Pro Ghana.
It is meant to ensure sustainability and job security of the beneficiaries.
He said the set-up stage seeks to assist all beneficiaries in their localities to practice commercial basket weaving, of which Craft Pro would provide all the required materials for basket weaving.
Mr. Kangah said after weaving, the baskets are picked by Craft Pro, and the cost of labour paid to the beneficiaries, in addition to 50% profit sharing.
He praised the beneficiaries, who are mainly women, for their commitment during the training period. This, he contended, was evidence of the over-subscription of the project in all the communities which subsequently, necessitated a request and subsequent approval of additional manpower and beneficiaries for training and set-up.
According to him, Craft Pro was seeking to train over 10,000 youth in the Upper East Region, and therefore, appealed to the government and other development partners to continue to support the project.
He said the success of the project in the region had proven that the scale of weaving baskets was not only limited to the Bolgatanga Municipality, but had a huge potential in the remaining districts of the region and the entire Savannah Zone.
During the period of training, the staff of Craft Pro were overwhelmed by the various designs of baskets that were woven by the beneficiaries outside the Bolgatanga Municipality, even though basket weaving was a major trade in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
The National Coordinator of the NYEP, Abuga Pele, was hopeful that the project would be one of the strategies towards reducing poverty in the region, and said one of the focuses of the project was to towards placing emphasis on the trade and vocation modules of the NYEP.
Mr. Pele mentioned that apart from basket weaving, other modules include youth in film acting, youth in share butter processing, youth in Agro processing, and youth in pure water processing.
The Coordinator indicated that to better address the youth and employment in the society, the NYEP had come out with the necessary exit plans, aimed at engaging the youth after their two years service of limitation.
The youth of Ghana contribute about 35% of the total population, but make up about 50% of the unemployed group in the country.
The Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Mrs. Lucy Awuni, suggested that vertebral grasses be grown in the region to serve as raw material for basket weaving, and also to check erosion.
The theme for the graduation ceremony was: “Empowering the youth with technical and vocational skills for a better Ghana.”