Michael Olugbode in Abuja
Worried about the number of out of school children and it’s negative effects on the society, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Bothers Across Nigeria (BAN) has presented scholarships to 10 indigent secondary students.
This is just as the NGO expressed concern over the low budgetary allocation to education, which it said has contributed to decay in the system.
Speaking with journalists at the Biannual Conference of BAN, with the theme: ‘When Education Cannot Wait’, the Global President of BAN, Engr. Azubuike Onowu called on policymakers to vote more money into the educational sector.
Lamenting the spate of out of school children, Onowu expressed concern that the future of Nigerian children, who he described as the leaders of tomorrow, may be jeopardised.
He said: “We call on policymakers to increase educational scholarships, get more funds to support indigent Nigerians. We tried to reach out to schools and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and today we are going to give scholarships to indigent students.
“I advise the policymakers to make efforts to get the children out of the streets and take them back to schools because they are the leaders of tomorrow, we cannot ignore them, it is important we improve the educational infrastructure for Nigerian children.”
He however, said as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with the intent to assist the government, BAN is giving out scholarships to 10 indigent students in Nigeria.
The BAN Global President further stated that the organisation which has presence across the globe has been engaging in series of humanitarian activities, with the donation of relief materials to victims of earthquake in Turkey as one of its recent interventions.
He said: “We are giving out scholarships for 10 indigent students in government owned schools. We tried to pay for their SSCE, but we learnt that the exams are far gone but we are paying for their NECO.
“This is just the beginning, we plan to identify more schools and many states. Our organisation is present in Europe, America, Asia and different parts of the world, and we have carried out a lot of interventions globally, during the last earthquake in Turkey, our chapter in the country sent some relief materials to the government of Turkey and they sent us letter and certificate of appreciation, so it it not all about education, we are giving back to the society.”
The Keynote speaker, Dr Jekwu Ozoemene, who is also the Chairman of Tony Uranta Corporate Social Responsibility Board urged individuals and organisations to support government in advancing education in Nigeria.
“If you look at what we have today, the United Nations has said that at the very minimum, we should expect that 15 to 20 per cent of your budget should be allocated to education.
“What we are saying today as a responsible organisation is that we are going to support government and encourage other organisations to ensure that we inch up the support or the funding of education from that 5 per cent of the budget where we are today to about 20 per cent.”
While highlighting the areas of focus for BAN in terms of educational interventions, Ozoemene said “there are three implementation programmes of what we are doing, one of them is scholarships, we are going to see an increased number of scholarships coming out from BAN to students across Nigeria, we are going to see an increased volume of support in terms of financial incentives coming out from BAN to support teachers to upscale and to be able to face the education of the future, we are going to see increased support from BAN going into infrastructure in support of education, those are the three programmes that we are focused on.
“When you enhance infrastructure, when you enhance capacity of teachers, when you increase scholarships, you are going to bring a lot of these children who are out in the street back to the school system.”
He added that: “You cannot grow an economy without education, you can’t grow an economy where the children are barely literate, you can’t grow an economy where you have over 20 million children out of school, so we encourage government to adopt the United Nations proclamation that 15 to 20 per cent of the country’s annual budget be allocated to education, but we understand the constrains, and this is why we are doing what we are doing and we are calling on all well meaning individuals and private sector organisations to support government to fund education.
“All our chapters across the world will be giving scholarships, provide interventions in terms of infrastructure and training of
teachers for the next two years and by the time we finish, you will see a sustainability report and a breakdown of how much we have spent.”