Supporting Educational Philanthropy with Advocacy

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Emmanuel Anyaeto
Emmanuel Anyaeto

Olutayo Irantiola

Philanthropy is a globally renowned gesture by a well-meaning individual in uplifting the stand of some other people. This act is not rare in Nigeria too as philanthropists, in the recent times, have supported the government in many ways and changed the situation for many persons. This could be in the areas such as health, education, community development, human services, sports and recreation amongst others.

However, it has been ascertained that some philanthropic gestures do not align with the current need of certain communities. This usually occurs when there is no detailed research and interaction with the people to know what the problem is and how they intend to scale the hurdle of their community and this bring great joy to every stakeholder.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organation (UNESCO), has advocated that budgetary provision for education, on the minimum should be between 15 to 20 per cent of the annual budget of a nation. In Nigeria, the 2019 budget fell short of it. This year, the education sector got N620.5 billion (about 7.05 per cent), marginal raise over the total of N605.8bn budgeted for the sector in 2018.

Over the years, the country’s funding for education continued to rotate between five per cent, six per cent and seven per cent of the national budget.

There has been lot of hullabaloo about the state of education in Nigeria. At various point in time, people have called for the total declaration of a state of emergency in that sector. According to a report in The Punch newspaper of October 31, 2018, “The National Economic Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently urged governors to declare emergency on education in the 36 states of the federation. It also urged the state and federal governments to allocate at least 15 per cent of their yearly budgets to education with a view to revolutionising the sector.”

All of these challenges have brought the timely intervention of The Akin Ogunbiyi Foundation which is at the forefront of raising the bar of the standard of education in Osun State. The Foundation is not just giving funds to enhance education but has also led the discourse by inviting stakeholders to chart a way forward for education in the state and Nigeria at large.

The Akin Ogunbiyi Foundation Lecture Series was held in Osogbo, the Osun State capital and the theme was, “Education as an input variable for National Development.”

The keynote speaker at the event was the former Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University and Past Secretary General, Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities Professor Michael Faborode who set the matter open before Nigerians by calling for an urgent reform of the educational system in the country
Some of the highlights of Faborede’s presentation were the need for education to be fit for purpose if we want to achieve enviable heights like China, Korea and other Asian countries that has advanced and made remarkable progress. Equally cited as very important, is that leaders within the Nigerian educational system must provide leadership for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and partner with the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations like The Akin Ogunbiyi Foundation in ensuring that Nigeria moves from a developing nation to a developed nation like China, Korea and others.

The Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering also noted that the Ministerial Strategic Plan developed for the 2015-2019 administration had nine pillars which include, Addressing the Out-of-School Children Phenomenon; Strengthening Basic and Secondary School Education; Teacher Education, Capacity Building, Professional Development and Adult Literacy and Special Needs Education.

Others are Education Data and Planning; Curriculum and Benchmark Minimum Academic Standard; Technical and Vocational Education and Training; Quality and Access to Higher Education; and e-learning.

According to Faborode, “The fact of the matter is that we as a country need much more commitment to honest strategic planning and more honest implementation of our plans for development. The global and continental strategies/plans have helped us to define achievable goals for all the levels of education – Child Education; Pre-Nursery/Nursery; Primary; Secondary/Technical/Vocational; Teacher Education; Higher/Tertiary Education. We are thus left with their painstaking expert domestication, transparent political will and honest and patriotic implementation of the domesticated plans.”

Having laid the fact before the audience, the panelists which included Professor Pat Utomi of the Centre for Values in Leadership; Professor Akintayo Dayo Idowu, Osun State University; Ms Adetutu Sangonuga, Partner, Human Capital Partners; Mrs Ayopeju Njideaka, CEO Nurture House Consulting (NHC) and Mr Seye Oyeleye, Director- General, Dawn Commission, all spoke about the various ways of enhancing the educational system in Nigeria.

Some learnings from their analysis are that, leaders are no more developed through the proscription of the Student Union Governments across Nigerian Universities. The development of a country would steam more from the quality of primary and secondary education and not tertiary education. The up skilling of leadership through refresher courses.

The Akin Ogunbiyi Foundation was set up as a philanthropic gesture of Dr Ogunbiyi, Group Chairman, Mutual Benefit Assurance Group, who is renowned for supporting various students with scholarship awards both within and outside the country.

Some of the beneficiaries are 10 graduates of the West African College of Insurance Institute, Banjul, The Gambia; 22 graduates of the College of Insurance and Financial Management; 25 students of Adeleke High School; 15 students of the Faculty of Health and Clinical Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and many other postgraduate students which includes a Ph.D student in Architecture of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

The Foundation seeks for inclusive growth and progress for every Nigerian and by extension Africans in addressing the root cause of poverty and degradation. The cardinal pillars of the organisation include health; education; empowerment; leadership and poverty alleviation.

When philanthropic gestures align with strategic advocacy such as this lecture, the future of the country will definitely become more beautiful. We need people with brave hearts to champion other areas in which change is desired in Nigeria, this will make the nation soar in Africa and the world at large.
Irantiola wrote from Lagos