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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.

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Corporate Citizenship

Coronavirus: Dangote donate N200m to curb the spread in Nigeria

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The Aliko Dangote Foundation has earmarked N124million that will support facilities to help prevent, assess and respond to health events at Point of Entry to ensure National Health Security

LAGOS, Nigeria, Marc– The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) yesterday pledged a whooping sum of N200million to support current effort of the Nigerian government towards curbing the spread of Corona Virus or Covid-19 in the country.

ADF’s intervention is considered the largest single donation by a corporate organization in the country to contain the spread of coronavirus since Nigeria recorded its first index case last month in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Aliko Dangote Foundation Ms. Zouera Youssoufou, represented by the Health and Nutrition Programme Officer Maryam Shehu-Buhari, at a donor coordinating meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 said the donation was part of the Foundation’s cardinal objective of partnering with governments at all levels against the dreaded disease in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

The Foundation is also the only Nigerian donor that attended the meeting and made monetary pledge.

Also Read: Interview: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Executive Director, Gugulethu Ndebele On Girls And Leadership

To this extent, she said the Aliko Dangote Foundation has earmarked N124million that will support facilities to help prevent, assess and respond to health events at Point of Entry to ensure National Health Security.

Ms Youssoufou also highlighted other areas of intervention to include surveillance and epidemiology, where facilities worth N36million will be provided by the Foundation to support government’s effort.

According to her the ADF will also donate N48million for case management training of health workers.

Speaking at the meeting facilitated by World Bank, the Country Director represented by the Operations Manager Ms. Kathleen Whimp identified four thematic areas to tackling the spread of COVID 19. These are: Regular communication with the public, contact tracing, training of volunteers and international co-operations.

Speaking also, the Director, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. John Oladejo said some of the challenges, going forwarded include lack of enough isolation centres, contact tracing, training of volunteers, international cooperation, fake news and panic, among others.

Mr. Noel Chisaka of the Regional Disease Surveillance System Enhancement Project commended the Aliko Dangote Foundation for the contribution and encouraged others to join in the fight against Covid-19.

Other donors invited to the meeting include: WHO, UNICEF, BMGF, RTSL, EU, USAID, US CDC, DFID, Public Health England, GIZ, JICA, Africa CDC, WAHO, PHI, MTN, Red Cross, IFRC and AFENET. 

According to reports there are a total of 90,936 confirmed cases worldwide – although more than half of those (47,995) have already recovered. The biggest numbers are still by far in mainland China (80,151), followed by South Korea (4,812), Italy (2,036) and Iran (1,501). Japan has 274 confirmed cases, France 191, Germany 165, Spain 120, Singapore 108, US 106, and Hong Kong 100. There are also cases in South America, Africa and Australia.

The total death toll stands at 3,117 with 2,936 of those coming from China. The countries with the next highest numbers are Iran (66), Italy (52) and South Korea (29).There have also been deaths in Japan, the US, France, Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

It would be recalled that the Aliko Dangote foundation also committed N1billion in the fight against the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Africa, helping to build resilience and strengthen Nigeria’s health system in a manner expected to endure beyond the Ebola crisis period.

The foundation’s support during the Ebola crisis ensured the establishment of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EEOC) in Yaba, Lagos; provision of 12 units of thermal cameras across Nigeria’s International Airports with training for 160 staff/personnel of the Federal Ministry of Health, Port Health Services Department, on the use of the thermal cameras; provision of W.H.O-certified Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs and comprehensive logistics support for the returnee volunteers on Ebola intervention across countries ravaged by Ebola. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had then commended Mr. Aliko Dangote for what he described as “remarkable sacrifices in eradicating Ebola virus disease and polio in Nigeria.”

Dangote Group

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Corporate Citizenship

Sahara Group’s Innovation Hackathon Winners Emerge

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Lagos, Nigeria– The curtains have been drawn on the maiden edition of the Sahara Innovation Week, an initiative birthed with a vision to foster knowledge sharing and inventions that boost Sahara’s value proposition globally, with Sahara’s first Innovation Hackathon producing winners across the Group.

The Hackathon which focused on service excellence around operational efficiency, customer experience and data optimisation & monetisation, attracted various submissions from different teams across the Group, and after rigorous assessment by various judges, Team GIS from Ikeja Electric Plc emerged as overall winners.

Also Read: Interview: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Executive Director, Gugulethu Ndebele On Girls And Leadership

Speaking at the award ceremony, Executive Director, Kola Adesina stated that “to reach greater heights, and to stay relevant, we must embrace innovation,” reiterating that Management would support innovative ideas and transform them for optimized implementation. Adesina disclosed that Management would transform the overall winning idea into a business enterprise in which the innovators will have shares.

Team GIS; Winners of the 2019 Sahara Innovation Hackathon

The winners include Ayodele Alonge and Opeyemi Adaramola of Team BRAVO from Centrum Properties Limited, Ernest Efenador of Team OXYGEN from Egbin Power Plc, Chiedozie Ilechie, Chukwuemeka Azodo and Terkuma Ivande of Team REMACS from First Independent Power Limited, and Mobolaji Fayomade, Emmanuel Oyerinde and Chijioke Emeruwa of Team GIS from Ikeja Electric Plc.

The top four winning teams went home with $5,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. Emphasizing the importance of technology and innovation to the future of Sahara Group, Executive Director, Temitope Shonubi said: “We see technology as that system that makes things better, easier, improves customer efficiency and operational effectiveness. This will drive what we do much more in the coming years at Sahara”.

Ayodele Alonge, one of the winners, from Centrum Properties Limited, the real estate arm of the Group, described the Hackathon as a challenging and rewarding exercise. “This award has changed my life. In fact, I’ll be adding this achievement to my LinkedIn profile ‘Sahara Innovation Week winner, 2019’,”she stated.

Other activities including Innovation Trivia, where winners went home with virtual reality gift items, Innovation showcase and knowledge sharing sessions, provided useful insight into the innovation path to Sahara’s future.

Sahara Group

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Corporate Citizenship

Dolphin Senior High School Wins Sahara Group’s Chess Competition

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Lagos, Nigeria– Dolphin Senior High School in Lagos has emerged winners of Sahara Group’s #CleanLoveFeb Chess Competition which was organized as part of the energy conglomerate’s ongoing campaign against substance abuse, especially among young people.

The competition featured two players each from four government owned schools including Dolphin Senior High School, Boys’ Senior Academy, Girls’ Senior Academy and Ebute Elefun Senior High School, all located within Lagos Island.

The chess tourney, according to Bethel Obioma, Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group, was designed to serve as a platform to inspire young people to look to sports, books and educative web portals for recreation and academic excellence. “Chess is a game that stimulates mental alertness and critical thinking. We chose public secondary schools to encourage the students to  aspire to challenging for laurels in a game that is considered elitist. The competition also served the purpose of creating awareness on the dangers of substance abuse and inspiring these young future leaders to channel their energies into activities that will help them realise their dreams,” he said.

At the preliminary stage which held on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the four schools competed intensely and played skillfully for over four hours before Dolphin Senior High School and Boys’ Senior Academy made it to the finals.

Also Read: Interview: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Executive Director, Gugulethu Ndebele On Girls And Leadership

The finals featured four students from the two schools. Odusanya Isaac of Dolphin Senior High School competed against Olabode Quadri of Boys Senior Academy, while Lediju Abul-Lateef of Dolphin Senior High School played against Amoo Mubarak of Boys’ Senior Academy.

At the end of the competition, both contestants from Dolphin Senior High School outplayed their opponents to emerge as the overall winners of Sahara Group’s #CleanLoveFeb chess competition. Lejidu Abdul-Lateef went on to checkmate his way to claim the coveted Best Player of the Tournament Award.

The elated Abdul-Lateef said: “This is a very happy moment for me, and I am proud of what I have achieved. I also learned a lot from the session we had about substance abuse when Sahara Group brought a Psychiatrist, Dr. Tunde Fadipe to tell us more about saying no to substance abuse in any form. I hope to keep learning and playing the game and possibly end up as a grand master someday.”

Finalists from both schools photographed with Bethel Obioma (middle) Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group

All finalists were rewarded with prizes including books, Sahara corporate souvenirs and chess sets to the schools to encourage the cultivation of the chess-playing culture.

The competition which was implemented through Sahara’s Personal and Corporate Social Responsibility vehicle, Sahara Foundation, enlisted the support of the INVENT Programme, a mentoring platform for in- school youth.

The Sahara #CleanLoveCampaign which also includes other activities across the energy giant’s locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East continues for the rest of the month of February.

Sahara Group

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