By: Dadson A. Musa

The Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) headquartered in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone, has efficiently executed the World Bank-funded Skills Development Fund (SDF) grant aimed at enhancing the employability of youths. Established in 1975, the institution, led by Ali Ben Sei, targets youths who have not pursued higher education and offers practical-oriented vocational skills training. With a grant totaling $22,000,000, OIC has enrolled 650 beneficiaries nationwide, with the Bo campus accommodating 205 students. The project, spanning nine months, focuses on six months of skills training followed by three months of on-the-job experience

The OIC’s successful implementation of the SDF grant underscores its commitment to addressing youth unemployment and fostering skill development across Sierra Leone. The institution, initially conceived by a collaboration between a German national, L.H. Sullivan, and local Sierra Leoneans, has evolved to become a pivotal player in transforming the lives of young graduates and their communities.

Despite facing challenges in attracting qualified tutors, OIC’s standardized syllabus and practical approach have garnered recognition for equipping students with relevant skills such as electrical work, plumbing, welding, motor mechanics, agriculture, IT, and masonry. Programme Manager Fatorma Musa notes a perceptual shift over the years, with the institution shedding its stigma of catering solely to dropouts and gaining acceptance as a provider of essential livelihood skills.

Moreover, the provision of a stipend of Two hundred and fifty thousand leones during the job-training phase has made the SDF project particularly appealing to students, further enhancing its impact on youth empowerment. Sister institutions like the Southern Agro-Industrial Development Associate Centre (SAIDAC) in Bo stand poised to benefit from subsequent grant opportunities, reinforcing the transformative potential of such initiatives in Sierra Leone’s development landscape.

Beyond its educational role, OIC has diversified into business ventures, boasting a standard guest house and an entertainment center in Bo. The institution’s prominence as a leading technical-vocational hub in the southern region reflects its alignment with the government’s agenda of fostering independence and self-reliance among the youth.

In a recent address at the Bo mini stadium during an athletics meet, Executive Director Ali Ben Sei urged youths to seize opportunities for educational empowerment and meaningful engagement, steering them away from detrimental activities. OIC’s evolution into a dynamic tech-voc institution underscores its pivotal role in shaping Sierra Leone’s future by nurturing skilled and responsible citizens.

The successful implementation of the SDF project by OIC underscores the institution’s pivotal role in addressing youth unemployment and fostering skill development in Sierra Leone. With a focus on practical vocational training and job placement, OIC stands as a beacon of hope for the country’s youth, aligning with national priorities for self-reliance and economic empowerment.









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