After a keenly contested grand finale, Master David Emmanuella and Miss Barikpoa Prosper from Community Primary School, Rivers State have emerged the overall winners of the sixth Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC).
They were closely followed by students from Ogun and Enugu States who emerged first and second runners-up in the competition with the theme ‘Bridging the Literacy Gap Together’. The winners were awarded scholarships, trophies and various gifts at a ceremony in Lagos recently
The event, which had in attendance key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, was also an opportunity for the students to engage and interact among themselves, explore various book exhibition stands, take reading sessions and also participate in a spelling bee competition.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun said: “Literacy is crucial to the development of any society and it is described by UNESCO as a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities.”
As an organisation, he said Lafarge Africa continues to invest in educational interventions including scholarships and bursary awards for children within its host communities, training programmes, renovation and construction of classroom blocks and other facilities within schools, computer training, skills acquisition programmes among others.
“For a country like Nigeria, there is an urgent need to work towards securing a sustainable future. We believe that a sustainable future will enable growth, global peace and security and technological advancement. We need to prepare our children for a future where they will compete globally with ease. That future begins with improving the literacy levels of every child in Nigeria today.’
Launched in 2014 as a flagship CSR intervention by Lafarge Africa Plc, the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition has since grown to become an annual national initiative positively impacting children and teachers across Nigeria.
Also speaking, the Country Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Africa, Mr. Michel Puchercos commended all the students that participated at every stage of the competition, saying, “it is rewarding to watch these brilliant children grow and improve every year. We dream of a bright future for every Nigerian child through basic education. Six years on, the visible outcomes we have seen encourage us to do more.
We have touched the lives of more than 700,000 primary school pupils in 1,665 schools across 544 local government areas. The competition is delivered across all 109 senatorial districts in all 36 states and the FCT, and is organised with the support of the State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in all the states, with our implementing partners, Ovie Brume Foundation and TEP Centre.”
He added: “As a company, we are proud of this achievement and do believe that it will inspire more well-meaning Nigerians and citizens all over Africa and the world to contribute to improving the lives of the people around them, in any way they can.”
The special guest of honour, the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, commended the company for taking up the initiative to bridge the country’s widening literacy gap and expressed his passion for children and women, while urging more companies to join hands against illiteracy.
‘We spend a lot on government and infrastructure but there isn’t enough being spent on education for children,” he noted.
On her part, the Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development Director, Lafarge Africa, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem said the objective of the competition is to create more literacy enhancement opportunities for indigent students across Nigeria.
“We have been doing this successfully for the past five years and we are quite happy with the positive impact we have made so far.”
The overall winners, who also got scholarships to complete their secondary education, thanked the company and expressed delight at the opportunity to participate and the joy of being the winners.