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Education & Employability

Mentoring Assistance for Youths and Entrepreneurs Initiative (MAYEIN)

This feature highlights the work Mentoring Assistance for Youths and Entrepreneurs Initiative (MAYEIN) and how the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) supports the organization to improve educational access and quality in Nigeria.

At 13 years old, Edem Dorothy Ossai led an afterschool reading and extra-curricular program for children in her neighborhood who were not enrolled in primary school. It was not only a bold, thoughtful gesture at the time but the start of her work advocating for children’s rights to education in her home country, Nigeria. 

Four years later, Edem was selected as part of a 5-team delegation to represent over 30 million Nigerian children at the biennial conference of African Heads of States and broadcasters – AFRICAST. There Edem advocated for the passing of the Child Rights Act in Nigeria. The law was passed, however, Edem felt like there was still work to be done around child rights advocacy and education. 

She subsequently established a nonprofit organization in Nigeria called Mentoring Assistance for Youths and Entrepreneurs Initiative (MAYEIN) to advance young people’s development through equity in education, entrepreneurship development, and civic engagement.

A Glance at MAYEIN’s Impact

In 2012, the organization launched a mobile library initiative that delivered reading programs, library resources, and academic support services to school children in disadvantaged school and community locations in Ibadan Oyo State. This was the first major community program led by the organization. Since 2012, the mobile libraries have touched the lives of more than 2000 readers and held over 240 library reading sessions on the weekends. Currently, MAYEIN operates four mobile libraries and book clubs in schools and communities in Ibadan.

MAYEIN Mobile Library

Following the success of the mobile library initiative, MAYEIN co-implemented the “Stand with Malala” International Campaign Project In 2016. The campaign utilized the documentary “He named Me Malala” to raise awareness in South-West, Nigeria, about education rights for girls and successfully engaged over 1500 individuals and stakeholders.

One year later, MAYEIN provided training and technical support to 18 role models in the Girls Connect Project which provided over 5000 girls with inspiring content and live role model conversations over an innovative IVR platform. Additionally, within that year, MAYEIN launched Participatory Budgeting in 3 secondary schools in Oyo State, and successfully trained 68 students on how to take part in their school spending and decision-making process whilst also providing voter education to over 400 students.

Given its commitment to community development, MAYEIN was selected for the award of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) Grant in 2020. The grant provided both funding and technical assistance to Edem and her team. 

“QCT has a process that goes beneath the surface to detect the true substance of any organization- be it big or small. This is a commitment and practice that I deeply respect. In 2020, they betted on MAYEIN when no one else would. They weren’t wrong to bet on us”, Edem Dorothy Ossai.

Through support from the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT), MAYEIN implemented the ‘Oyo e-Literacy Project’ which provides 1 million Oyo State school children with basic digital literacy and computer skills development through the operation of a mobile equipped Digi-literacy (computer training) hub. Notwithstanding the limitations imposed by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, the project has already provided practical computer skills training to 750 secondary school children and empowered them with basic digital literacy and computing skills. MAYEIN was also able to set up a fully equipped physical computer training hub for school teachers in Oyo State through QCT funding in that year. 

MAYEIN Digital Literacy

“We were able to organize 12 training sessions for schoolteachers through the hub. We were also able to deliver over 5 digital courses on employability to 50 undergraduates and fresh graduates in Oyo State,” Edem Dorothy Ossai, Founder and Executive Director, MAYEIN.

Additionally, as part of the technical assistance support provided by the QCT, MAYEIN has since undergone stages of organizational development with the aid of tools created by the QCT and expert mentoring. Through this experience, the organizational systems of MAYEIN have been strengthened and the organization now operates using a sustainable business model.

In 2020, MAYEIN also established a model community youth center in the Alaka community, Ojoo district, Ibadan, Oyo State. MAYEIN has since provided library services and formal mentorship to over 500 registered users; vocational skills training and entrepreneurship development to 50 high school graduates; basic computer skills development to more than 500 community-based school children; and held stakeholder engagement activities with more than 400 local stakeholders.

In 2021, MAYEIN gained special consultative status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Special consultative status is granted to NGOs which have a special competence in the limited fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC. In MAYEIN’s case – child advocacy and education.

This ECOSOC milestone is as a result of the determined young volunteers who remained committed to the vision of improving universal access to education in the communities that MAYEIN serves.

“Thanks to the hard work of our team, the special consultative status was awarded to us by the UN Economic and Social Council. This is further proof that we are serious actors in global development,” Edem Dorothy Ossai.

The Way Forward

In addition to its impact on the lives of young Nigerians, the special consultative status is a major goal that MAYEIN is proud of. But Edem and her team are just getting started. They have their eyes focused on other milestones.

MAYEIN is currently focused on establishing 36 MAYEIN Model Youth Centres (MYCs) in every state in Nigeria. Through these centres, the organization intends to deliver weekly programs, activities, and resources to millions of youth and vulnerable girls across the entire country.  

The organization also has plans to scale its civic engagement programs nationwide by expanding its network of ‘Girls without Borders’, Democracy, and RESCU-Earth school clubs across the country.

And, by 2025, MAYEIN hopes to provide 1 million disadvantaged school children and 5000 public school teachers with basic computer literacy skills.

MAYEIN - “nothing compares”

It’s been a long journey for Edem since her community initiative at 13 years old. She now serves as a lawyer. She was also an Inaugural Obama Scholar in the Barrack Obama Foundation, during which time she proceeded to obtain a master’s degree in international development and policy from the University of Chicago. Edem was also a Mandela Washington Fellow by the US State Department and was appointed an Echidna Global Scholar in 2021 by the Brookings Institution. All are great accomplishments according to the young leader but nothing compares to the life-changing work of developing the skills of young Nigerians through quality accessible education; all the while, ensuring that girls aren’t left behind.

To support MAYEIN and empower young leaders like Edem to continue leading change in the communities that raised them, click here.

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