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Corporate Citizenship

Enhancing Literacy, Improving Livelihoods: Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition

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Temitope Oguntokun, Head Corporate Brand and Sustainability, Lafarge Africa Plc at a book reading volunteering exercise organised by Lafarge Africa Plc in Lagos recently.

 

Nigeria has the highest number of children without access to education with about 10.5 million (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) children affected.The statistics are staggering and hard to deny given the number of children hawking or begging on the streets everyday. In February this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that 50.8 percent of Nigerian children, ages between 5 and 17, are involved in child labour.

 

The implication would be dire for a country like Nigeria if a solution is not urgently found. Many of the children, on whose shoulders the leadership of the country will rest in a few years, risk being illiterates, unable to compete with their peers in matters of economy, innovation and technological advancement. Illiteracy has also been identified as the leading cause of social vices ranging from vandalism to terrorism. The Boko Haram insurgency currently ravaging the northeastern part of the country is a vivid example of this.

 

The challenges in the country’s education system, leading to millions of out-of-school-children, did not begin suddenly. As such, the solution too can only come through deliberate, focused, wide-reaching and sustainable interventions.

 

Lafarge Africa, the construction and building solutions company,has identified the need for an urgent intervention in the sector and through the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC) is complementing government efforts to raise the standard of literacy in public primary schools.

 

Now in its fifth year, the competition is one of the company’s leading corporate social responsibility investments. Students between the ages of 9 and 13 years in public schools are the primary target with participants undergoing essay writing, spelling bee, comprehension and literacy assessments. Since inception the competition has impacted more than 500,000 primary school pupils in 886 schools across 544 local government areas (LGAs).

 

LANLC is organized and delivered across all 109 senatorial districts in all 36 states of the federation and the FCT working with implementation partners – State Universal Basic Education Commission (SUBEBs) across Nigeria and the Ovie Brume Foundation. Educational grants are given to winning pupils to support their primary and secondary education while indigent students, get to have exposure and travels out of their communities for the competition.

LANLC 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 nationwide education intervention and outstanding contribution to the development of literacy in the country’s primary schools.

 

According to Temitope Oguntokun, Head, Sustainability and Brand, Lafarge Africa, over N300 million of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility investment in 2017 was invested on various education initiatives to enhance the country’s literacy level. At the launch of this year’s competition, she reiterated that the competition is aimed at encouraging literacy in a sustainable way among Nigerian primary school children.

 

“When it comes to CSR, we are quite strategic in our approach because we want to grow our social impact year on year.This is one of the reasons we are reaching out to deepen collaboration and partnerships with other organizations in our vision to bridge the literacy gap together. We are starting on that journey this year with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Oando foundation and other like-minded organizations.

 

The National Literacy Competition initiative aligns with the LafargeHolcim 2030 Plan, which articulates our efforts to improve our impact in the communities we work in while driving the performance of our operations.” she said.

Winners from the 2017 regional finals of the fourth edition of the Lafarge Africa National Literacy 
competition.

Past winners and participants in the competition have affirmed the competition’s positive impact in their lives.

Nweke Chinyere from SUBEB Primary School, Elerinla, Ondo state was first runner-up in the maiden edition of the competition in 2014. She holds that being able to read and write is the door to achieving many great things.

 

“The literacy competition has helped me to understand the big science words better, it has also made me more interested in finding meaning to every word I come across,” Chinyere said.

 

For 12-year-old Usman Said from Model Primary School Kano State, the second runner-up in last year’s competition, the literacy competition is a gateway to greater things. “If everyone can get the type of training we got while preparing for the competition, I think nobody would be failing any exams,” he said.

 

In the case of Okikie Miracle Chimdindu, who represented Enugu State in the 2016 event, participation in the contest is like a rebirth. Even though he was second runner-up, he returned to a hero’s welcome at his Hilltop Primary School, Ngwo, Enugu North LGA.

 

“They carried me up and started to callme, “hero! hero!! hero!!!” During the assembly, she called me out and I stood in front of the whole school. She advised them to work hard like me,” he recalled.

 

Finalists at this year’s LANLC slated for 15th November are Lawal Kehinde and Idowu Ayomikun (South-West), Emmanuel Jacob and Janet Bitrus (North-Central), Amina Aminu and Ibrahim Dalhatu (North-West), Melody Joseph and Destiny Endwell (South-South), Ogbu Monday Chukwudi and Otu Precious Chiamaka (South-East) and Yusuf Isa and Rumaisau Waziri (North-East).

 

Corporate initiatives that support and complement the government efforts like the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition will go a long way in ensuring Nigeria’s economic growth and its sustained development.

NGOs - SDGs

Mercy Ships and Mission Aviation Fellowship renew partnership to bring life-changing surgery to African patients

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Mercy Ships and Mission Aviation Fellowship Team (Image: Supplied).

Humanitarian aid organizations Mercy Ships and Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) have renewed their partnership to help bring life-changing surgical care to isolated communities across Africa.

Mercy Ships operates state-of-the-art hospital ships, providing free surgeries and healthcare services to sub-Saharan nations with limited access to safe surgical care. MAF’s purpose is to bring help, hope and healing through aviation to people living in isolation and poverty.

The renewed memorandum of agreement between these two faith-based charities enables Mercy Ships to extend their reach further inland to a broader spectrum of the population across Africa, bolstered by MAF’s logistical support. This partnership, launched in Madagascar, will enable teams to access hard-to-reach areas and transport patients in need of critical surgical interventions. This collaboration provides opportunities for those in the most remote and inaccessible regions of the country. Further joint initiatives are being explored in other African nations.

“Traveling by road in Madagascar can be incredibly challenging due to the rough terrain and poor infrastructure,” Michael Jurgensen, MAF Madagascar Country Director, said. “In many cases, reaching remote villages can take days by car, draining valuable time and energy. However, with MAF Madagascar’s support, the [Mercy Ships] patient selection team can cover vast distances swiftly and safely, enabling them to visit multiple locations within a short period. Flying not only saves time for the selection team, but also ensures the team can travel to evaluate and select patients from the most isolated and underserved areas for surgery on-ship at a later date.

A 2016 study of Madagascar revealed that only 20% of the population can access surgical services within a two-hour timeframe, and up to 95% would face financial ruin if they required surgery (source: BMJ Global Health). With a scarcity of surgeons — approximately 1 for every 100,000 people — the prospect of receiving necessary surgical treatment seems unattainable for many (source: WHO).

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Bernard van den Bosch, who has worked for both MAF and Mercy Ships, and current Director of the Africa Services Center at Mercy Ships, expressed his enthusiasm: “We are confidently re-engaging with MAF because together we are stronger. The country of Madagascar has many hard-to-reach areas, and MAF is the key to accessing them. Non-profit organizations can ‘compete,’ but ultimately, we all serve the same goal. I see many opportunities for future collaboration and intensive joint efforts.”

Bastiaan de Waal, Africa Regional Director of MAF, added: “By transporting Mercy Ships teams with our aircraft to the interior of Madagascar, we provide help, hope and healing to residents with the surgical care they desperately need. The need is high in these areas, and these people in isolated communities are equally entitled to care. We are pleased to partner alongside Mercy Ships to support this often-forgotten group. Being each other’s hand and foot is what we are called to do and we have a shared synergy of vision and values.”

This renewed collaboration between MAF and Mercy Ships exemplifies how strategic partnerships can enhance humanitarian efforts, ensuring that more people receive the critical medical care they need. The two organizations previously partnered from 2014 to 2016 in Madagascar and have worked together in Liberia.

Mercy Ships’ hospital ship, the Africa Mercy®, has been docked in Toamasina since February and is delivering surgery and training. The ship is actively collaborating with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health to identify the most pressing needs and strengthen the country’s surgical systems through its education, training, and advocacy program.

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Corporate Citizenship

LG Electronics Donates Solar-Powered Borehole to Abule-Osun Community

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LG Electronics, a renowned global leader in technology and innovation, has made a generous contribution by providing a solar-powered borehole to the Abule Osun community in Lagos, Nigeria. This marks the second similar project in Nigeria, demonstrating the company’s commitment to addressing the pressing issue of access to clean drinking water in local areas. The solar water pumping system reaches a depth of 120m and has a pumping capacity of around 40m3 per day, equipped with advanced treatment technology to guarantee safe drinking water. Moreover, a 3000-liter tank ensures a continuous 24-hour water supply for the residents of Abule Osun, significantly improving their daily lives.

The solar-powered borehole is a vital initiative aimed at delivering clean and safe drinking water to the community, in line with LG Electronics’ unwavering dedication to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. By harnessing solar energy, this borehole not only ensures access to quality water but also plays a crucial role in mitigating the spread of waterborne diseases, thereby fostering better health and well-being within the community. LG Electronics’ commitment to this project signifies a significant step towards creating a healthier and more sustainable future for all those involved.

“We are proud to contribute to the development of the Abule Osun community,” said Mr. Hyoung Sub Ji, Managing Director of LG Electronics. “Access to clean water is a fundamental human right, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure that communities like Abule Osun have access to this basic necessity.” We have already given a community in Abuja a solar-powered borehole, and here today we are doing likewise. I am assuring Nigerians that before the end of this year, we will give as many as possible to several communities both in Lagos and other states of the federation.

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We express our gratitude for the chance, appreciating the backing from our distributor Fouani Nigeria Limited, along with the Youth and Community Leaders, in aiding this community’s welfare. It is our aspiration that this borehole will not only bring happiness but also enhance health and stimulate economic development for future generations, as conveyed by the spokesperson.

According to Mr. Mohammed Fouani (Jnr), Fouani Nigeria Limited Factory Manager, “the donation of the solar-powered borehole is a key component of LG Electronics’ ongoing endeavors to support sustainable development and enhance the well-being of individuals in Nigeria. The company’s admirable commitment to giving back to the communities it serves is evident in this gesture, showcasing LG Electronics’ long-standing dedication to corporate social responsibility. This donation underscores the company’s focus on making a positive impact on both the environment and society, by providing clean, dependable water access through solar-powered technology and thereby enhancing the quality of life for Nigerians.”

“The donation made by the company showcases its enduring commitment to enhancing the communities it serves. This gesture highlights its steadfast dedication to promoting positive change for the environment and society. Through this act of giving back, the company reaffirms its significant impact and influence on the world”. He added.

At the ceremony, Mr. Hyoung Ji Sub, Managing Director of LG Electronics Nigeria, officially commissioned the borehole alongside Mr. Mohammed S. Fouani, Manager of Fouani Factory, Mr. Hari Elluru, Head of Corporate Marketing at LG Electronics, and Prince Kasali Abiodun, Chairman of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria and Youth Leader of Abule Osun. The community leaders, landlords, and association members were delighted by this act, knowing it would greatly enhance residents’ access to clean water.

In his remark, Prince Kasali Abiodun, Chairman of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria RTEAN Abule Osun expressed his appreciation, saying, “I am delighted that we have come together today to commemorate health and vitality. Our community owes a debt of gratitude to LG Electronics for their invaluable support.” He added, “The provision of clean water is pivotal to enhancing our everyday existence and securing the well-being of our loved ones.” This acknowledgment underscores the essential role played by accessible clean water in promoting healthier lives and nurturing stronger communities.

More than 70 individuals gathered at the event, with a notable presence of distinguished guests such as officials from the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria, members of the Landlord Association of Abule Osun, and esteemed Community Leaders. The diversity of attendees represented different sectors and perspectives, contributing to the richness and depth of discussions held during the event. It was a gathering that showcased collaboration and cooperation among various stakeholders, emphasizing the importance of unity in addressing common challenges and advancing shared goals within the community.

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Corporate Citizenship

Children’s Day: Moniepoint celebrates children, promotes financial literacy

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Children’s Day Celebration Event (Image: Supplied).

In recognition of the transformative power of education and children as the lynchpin of a nation’s future, Africa’s fastest growing financial institution according to the Financial Times, Moniepoint Inc has provided opportunity for kids in low-income and underserved communities in Lagos to receive life-changing financial literacy in a fun, and relaxed environment to commemorate this year’s Children’s Day celebration. 

At an august celebration which was held at the Let It Shine Academy, LISA in Lagos, students were provided with school bags, books, educational tablets and learning accessories to power academic aspirations, as volunteers from Moniepoint took them through interactive and engaging sessions around budgeting, savings and spending,earning money, investing, personal financial management so as to instill a positive culture of financial literacy. 

Children’s Day prioritizes children’s rights and participation in the wider world and financial literacy is a very important life skill considering that financial decisions cut across every aspect of their lives, and a solid foundation in this regard can transform them and the nation at large. 

Speaking to Moniepoint’s observance of Children’s Day, Aderayo Adesokan, Manager, Brand and Communications, Moniepoint Inc said, “We are here at LISA to celebrate Children’s Day with the kids. For us at Moniepoint, we are firm believers in powering the dreams of not just businesses or individuals but those associated with them, especially a vulnerable segment like the children. We believe that we can serve as a catalyst to their dreams while helping them understand that as a brand we exist to ensure a society where everyone experiences financial happiness and we’ll be there for them. 

We are excited that this platform has afforded us the opportunity to introduce these kids to critical life changing skills around financial inclusion and literacy, and help them better under the concept of money. It is our expectation that armed with the information and skills that they have received, they in turn are well positioned and better able to educate their friends and family such that Nigeria’s socio-economic development is safe guarded even as all stakeholders continue to work towards entrenching UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”   

According to Damilola Feyide, Founder & Executive Director of LISA“At LISA, we’re not just teaching; we’re elevating communities through digital empowerment, creative learning, and skill development. We believe in equipping the youth for a rapidly evolving future where they can thrive and lead. I am grateful to Moniepoint for supporting our vision and bringing the dreams of a lot of the kids to pass. They have demonstrated in very clear tones by their actions that it is possible to end neglect and marginalization & provide equal opportunity for children to fully develop especially in underserved communities.” 

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Moniepoint provides over 3 million people and businesses across Nigeria with access to banking, payments processing, loans and business management tools that they need with a view to helping them thrive and contribute to economic growth while driving financial inclusion across the country. LISA is empowering Nigeria’s future by providing free & quality secondary education for children from low-income households and marginalized kids.

Watch a recap of the event  – https://bit.ly/LISAChildrensDay

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