Winners have emerged in the fifth Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC) with the theme ‘Bridging the Literacy Gap Together’. They are Master Kehinde Lawal and Idowu Ayomikun, who represented Lagos State, defeating 10 other pupils from Nasarawa, Kano, Rivers, Ebonyi and Gombe States. They smiled home with varying cash prizes, trophies and gifts.
The competition, launched in 2014 as a flagship CSR intervention by the organisation, has since grown to become a national initiative impacting children and teachers across the country.
Speaking at the grand finale held recently at the Civic Centre, Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Africa, Michel Puchercos commended all the students that participated in every stage of the competition.
“Apart from the cash prizes received, those who take part in this competition, go away with skills indispensable for building a sustainable future. We recognise the importance of better literacy skills in helping individuals succeed in life. The competition builds capacity and contributes to developing this much-needed skill in public primary school students across Nigeria.”
He said since the launch of the initiative, it has impacted more than 500,000 students across 544 local government areas, adding that with this year’s competition, it is delighted to have more critical stakeholders to broaden the scope of the intervention and improve the literacy skills of public school students.
“The competition has been endorsed by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Education in charge of basic education across the country, for its outstanding contribution to the development of literacy in public primary schools.”
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who presented the keynote address titled ‘Bridging the Literacy Gap Together’, commended the company for taking up the initiative to urgently bridge the country’s widening literacy gap.
He expressed delight that some states known for high illiteracy levels were represented at the grand finale, saying, “it shows that the battle against illiteracy is not lost, it can be won.”
The Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah commended the organisation for taking literacy to the grassroots and also giving children from the areas the opportunity to compete with their colleagues and age mates from the urban areas, thereby sharpening their skills and improving their self-confidence which is essential to their development.
“Literacy improves the future of everyone in the society and is critical to economic development, as well as individual and community wellbeing. In Nigeria, it is estimated that just a little above half of the adult population is literate (about 57 per cent), while youth literacy rate is less than 70 per cent. It is indeed remarkable that these young minds have been given a chance at a young age even as we strive to reduce illiteracy rate.”
He highlighted the federal government’s efforts aimed at improving literacy in the country through development of school facilities and the national home grown school feeding programme, adding that these have increased enrolment and completion.
The winners thanked Lafarge Africa, Ovie Brume Foundation, Oando Foundation and others involved in making the literacy competition a success.