Education plays a vital role in the development of a society and is a catalyst for other forms of enduring development. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Unfortunately, in Nigeria, the education sector, since the colonial era has grappled with recurring challenges mitigating the actualization of the country’s Universal Basic Education goals. These challenges include inadequate budget allocations by the federal, state and local governments, which has led to a shortage of quality staff, dearth of infrastructure, inadequate and deplorable facilities in public schools, low remuneration and untrained teachers.
Private sector intervention has taken the form of partnerships and sponsorships, to salvage the situation. Whilst charities like Oando Foundation have developed a multi-pronged education programme for pupils in dilapidated primary schools with a special focus on the girl child.
The Foundation through its multi-faceted approach; Adopt-A-School Programme, Infrastructure Development, Teacher Capacity Development, School Based Management Committee, Scholarships, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centres, Early Childhood Care and Development, is set to change the face of primary education in its host communities.
The Adopt-a-School initiative (AASI) is currently addressing key issues of universality, equity, quality education and supporting infrastructural development in adopted schools. AASI seeks to create a sustainable and replicable model for learning in all adopted primary schools across the country and improve the overall quality of basic education in Nigeria.
Presently, the Foundation has successfully adopted 80 primary schools across 23 states in the four geo-political zones in Nigeria including Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, FCT, Kaduna, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, and Taraba and further plans to adopt 100 more schools by 2018.
According to the British Council and World Bank report, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children. Presently, the number of children that should be enrolled in Nigerian primary schools is 35 million but actual enrollment is 24.5million, a shortfall of 10.5million (British Council Nigeria, 2012; World Bank, 2008). To date, Oando Foundation has successfully ensured that over 200,000 of these previously enrolled children have access to quality primary education.
To improve the learning experience in its adopted schools and ensure today’s children are comfortable with and able to confidently use technology, Oando Foundation launched its Information Communications and Technology Centre initiative.
The initiative entails the Foundation having ICT centres in its adopted schools with teachers to aid learning. The centres boast desktop computers, laptops, projectors, printers, TVs all powered by solar energy. The ICT scheme will facilitate pupils’ exposure to computer education and other technology. To date the Foundation has established 19 ICT centres in its adopted school and plans to establish a total of 95 centres by 2026.
The Foundation recently partnered with the U.S. State Department’s Global Partnership Initiative LIONS@FRICA, CoderDojo, and Hello World Foundation to launch a new initiative called AfriCoderDojo to teach 21st Century computer coding skills to students between 7-17 years old. To date, over 120 pupils have benefitted from this initiative.
In 2017 alone, Oando Foundation and Educate-a-Child Qatar partnered to enroll 60,000 out-of-school children in primary school in Northern Nigeria by 2018. To date, the Foundation has recorded a 26% success rate with the enrolment of 16,000 pupils. Sumitomo Chemical Japan has also partnered with the Foundation to provide ICT infrastructure for over 2,500 pupils in Lagos, Taraba and Kaduna state and most recently, a partnership with Fashion Vie where over N40 million was raised to support the Foundation’s work on the girl child education.
Oando Foundation recognizes that children are future leaders and a child’s cognitive capacity is greatly influenced by his/her environment. As the first means of classroom learning, the Foundation believes the importance of primary education cannot be overemphasized.