By Peace Obi
In furtherance of its objective to support the Nigerian government in achieving universal basic education, Oando Foundation has partnered a Qatar foundation- Education Above All Foundation, through its Educate a Child (EAC) programme to provide quality primary education for 60,000 out-of-school children (OOSC) in Nigeria come 2018.
With the 10.5 million Nigerian children out-of-school, the largest number globally according to UNESCO, the launch of the three-year project has been described as a timely intervention regarding the issues of access to quality education, enrollment of OOSC, and an integrated school environment.
Addressing journalists in Lagos recently, the Senior Education Specialist (Africa), Mr. Michael Cacich, said Educate a Child is a global programme launched by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar, which aims to significantly reduce the number of children worldwide who are denied their right to education.
“EAC is a commitment to children who are out-of-school, to help provide them with the opportunity to learn in such way that it contributes to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals four, which includes global commitment to ensure access to all levels of learning.
“Specifically, EAC aims to improve the enrollment and retention of at least 10 million out-of-school children globally by the end of 2015/2016 school year, Cacich said.
Speaking also, the Head, Oando Foundation, Adekanla Adegoke, said the foundation and EAC are committed to ensuring that children deprived of their fundamental right to primary education are given a chance to learn, even in the most difficult circumstances.
“The children, majority of whom live in the most marginalised areas of the society, have no access to quality primary education due to the tremendous obstacles they face including extreme poverty, limited resources, poor infrastructure, natural disasters, living in areas affected by conflict, and many other factors that make education impossible.”
Explaining the foundations’ strategic approach towards achieving the desired result, Adegoke said “EAC will co-fund projects in 46 schools across nine northern Nigerian states, through Oando Foundation’s Adopt a School Initiative (AASI). The AASI currently supports increased access to basic education in 63 public primary schools via infrastructure renovation, scholarships, ICT, and capacity building for teachers and community members.
“Under the EAC partnership, the AASI will be expended to 28 additional schools in northern Nigeria (Adamawa, Bauchi, FCT, Kaduna, Katsina, Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and Sokoto States), where there are a substantial number of out-of-school children.
“Alongside EAC, this partnership presents the foundation with a unique opportunity to achieve its clear-sighted goal of providing improved access to quality basic education for children of school age in Nigeria.
“We are presently supporting 63 schools through our Adopt a School Initiative, and we are prioritising northern Nigeria for this project.
Adegoke, who revealed that the foundation is currently addressing and acting on the multiple causes of exclusion in northern Nigeria, said the joint intervention will guarantee enrollment, retention and improvement in the quality of learning thereby increasing opportunities for children in the region to attend school.
In her remarks, the Director, Educate a Child, Dr. Mary Pigozzi, said “Educate a Child is happy to be working with our first partner in Nigeria, Oando Foundation. Together, we aim to enroll 60,000 out of school children over a three-year period through a project that will seek to improve the conditions of 100 public primary schools.
“We believe that EAC’s entry into this country is a significant milestone towards providing access to quality education for many more out-of-school children at the primary level.”
The foundations said they are optimistic that by 2018, the partnership would have placed 60,000 out-of-school children in 100 schools across Nigeria (46 of which will be in the north); improved the learning experience and outcomes of 60,000 public school pupils; enhanced educational infrastructure and improved learning environments in 100 public primary schools across Nigeria.
The partnership is also expected to have established ICT centres in 46 schools across Nigeria; trained 1,600 teachers and 100 head teachers, as well as awarded scholarships to students from the adopted schools to serve as a further incentive to complete primary education; strengthened the capacity of local government education authority officials and 1,500 members of the School Based Management Committees (SBMC), among others.