The Feed and Read Programme for Girls, a literacy scheme of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) for disadvantaged young girls in the Yola-Jimeta community, recently received a boost from Vicki Marsha Uniforms, a California-based school uniforms company.
The university said in a statement that it took delivery of the school uniforms worth $48,000 in wholesale value, at the Yola campus. The clothing had been freighted free of charge by FedEx International Couriers. FedEx’s in-kind donation is valued at $11,000.
According to Mrs. Diane Cologne, whose husband, Tim, co-owns the Huntington Beach-based clothier, “we appreciate being included in this incredible effort to help fellow humans and to make our world a better place for those so in need.”
The donated items include new high-quality trousers, short pants, skirts, sweaters, shirts and dresses. The uniforms will be available for use in other AUN programmes.
Reacting to the donation, the AUN President, Margee Ensign, said: “This generous gift from the other side of the world will make such a huge difference to the children we are seeking to educate here in Nigeria. All of us, and particularly the girls and their families, are enormously grateful to the Colognes.”
The new literacy programme was launched on February 11 with a financial donation by the Irish Government. It targets at-risk, out-of-school girls and orphans aged six-17. Some of the beneficiaries were orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
AUN’s Feed and Read Programme, which kicked off with 70 girls, has seen the number already double. The Coordinator, Executive Director of AUN Schools, Mrs. Nkem Uzowulu, reported that the number increases daily as parents are encouraged by their children’s improved performance and tell their neighbors about it.
The literacy programme provides basic literacy and numeracy skills for the girls, with a feeding component that provides one meal per day cooked by local vendors. Besides education, the programme has a local economic impact, as it is a source of livelihood for community women serving as volunteers or facilitators in the programme, as well as for the food vendors.
At the launch of the new programme, Ensign stressed the need for Nigeria to educate girls, noting that when girls are educated, everything in the country changes, from infant mortality to decline in infectious diseases and family size.
AUN also has a literacy programme that targets Almajiri boys. Both programmes follow the same fundamental pedagogy and include a free meal for participants. The new uniforms are also available for the boys. AUN also runs a USAID-sponsored literacy and numeracy programme, Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TELA), which exposes 22,000 vulnerable boys and girls in the local community using radio and tablets.