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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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NGOs - SDGs

Musonda Chikwanda: Driving the Girl Up-United Nations Foundation in Africa

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Musonda Chikwanda Regional Manager, Africa – Girl Up-United Nations Foundation

Girl Up is a girl-centered leadership development initiative, focusing on equity for girls and women in spaces where they are unheard or underrepresented. It believes when girls and women are in positions of influence, they work to create a more just and equitable world for everyone. Girl Up operates a global network of regional affiliates reaching 150,000 girls in 130 countries. The initiative delivers evidence-based leadership development training through its girl-led Clubs, programs, and events. 

As members of a global movement, girls are a force for social good connected to a Community of their peers who are advocating for policy change and advancing gender justice. Founded in 2010 and hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up welcomes girls and youth of all gender identities to start a Club and join its movement to advance gender justice worldwide. Together, they are expanding girls’ skills, rights, and opportunities to lead, and changing the face of leadership for generations to come. 

Musonda Chikwanda serves as Regional Manager for Africa with the United Nation Foundation under the Girl Up initiative. As Regional Manager for Africa, she coordinates and organizes adolescent girls’ programs in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM), advocacy and gender equality lead by adolescents’ girls to help bridge the gap in access to education and stimulate/engage girls to take up careers in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Musonda also mentors and provides training on leadership to youths from different African countries. 

Leadership Development 

Girl Up guides members along their journey from leader to changemaker with specialized programming in organizing, advocacy, fundraising, and communications. Its evidence-based Leadership Course includes interactive modules centered on a three-pronged leadership framework. That is, Leader of Self, Leader of Peers, and Leaders of Change. They’re motivating a generation of leaders to raise their voices in their schools and communities. Advocate to local and national decision-makers, and work together to advance gender equality for girls and women.

The Girl Up Team

An Authentic Platform 

Girl Up is committed to hearing and amplifying the voices of girls across our channels and platforms. Its online Community is both a place for members to share their perspectives and a place for them to connect to a wider global community of peers. Both in person and online, Girl Up fosters a positive community that bridges cultural divides to advance important dialogues on social issues happening around the world. 

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Issues in Focus

Girl Up is committed to advancing gender justice across issue areas that intersect with gender equality. All of which share a focus of giving girls and women equal rights, access, agency, and opportunities. 

  • Gender Equality.
  • Sports for a Purpose.
  • STEM for Social Good.
  • Girls’ Education.
  • Gender-Based Violence.
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice.

Girl Up works to build and maintain a constituency dedicated to improving the lives of all girls around the world. Girl Up envisions an empowered and powerful generation of young women leaders who promote and defend gender equality in their own communities and around the world.

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NGOs - SDGs

Crtve DEVELOPMENT launches WE!ARE to promote climate change awareness in Africa

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Crtve DEVELOPMENT CEO, Dr. Okito Wedi (Photo: Supplied).

In addition to making profits, it has become a necessity for businesses and organisations to embrace a consistent, policy-driven culture of giving back to the community where they do business. The reason is that a policy-driven socially responsible endeavour is a sustainable and socially responsible endeavour. Businesses that have this corporate mindset are the ones that eventually provide solutions that truly meet the needs of the community they serve, even when they are profit-driven.

As a platform that showcases African businesses, innovations, and entrepreneurs, Business Africa Online (BAO) is excited to witness yet another novel and beneficial platform where businesses, NGOs, funders, and organisations are standing side by side with talents and creatives in the arts and entertainment to ensure they find expression and use those expressions to deliver the needed solution to pressing issues that affect communities in Africa, and in this case, climate change. 

The Crtve Development (CD) WE!ARE climate justice campaign is an initiative that is long overdue because the solutions that have been proposed for climate change have mainly taken into account people living in places like Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and we need local solutions to local climate change problems.

Dr. Okito Wedi, Founder and CEO of Crtve DEVELOPMENT, stated: “Through the WE!ARE campaign, we want to harness the power of art and creativity to change the narrative on climate change and development in Africa and bridge the gap between communities who will most be affected and policymakers who will determine our climate future.”

CD, together with other trusted partners, has rolled out the WE!ARE campaign to socialise the disproportionate effects of climate change on vulnerable communities on the African continent. Using creativity, the campaign will discover and amplify young people’s unique experiences and demands to surmount the challenges of climate change through climate justice.

Climate justice emphasizes the fact that Africa contributes the least to global warming, yet Africans are the most affected by climate change. As a result, those with the least capacity to cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change face the biggest threat. Climate justice aims to redress this inequality by fairly sharing the problem of climate change as well as the responsibility of dealing with it equitably, with all countries around the world. As a result, the launch of the WE!ARE campaign allows for a conversation about structure, system, and policy to take centre stage between African creatives and the corporate world about how they approach the challenge of climate change.

Collaboration between African creatives and the business community is no longer born from just mere excitement or the need to latch on to trends, but a deliberate and long-term agenda of every business and organization in Africa. This is a major win that BAO is excited about and we celebrate CD for leading the ingenious path that will benefit all because climate change affects everyone in the ecosystem.

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In the coming days, weeks, and months, BAO looks forward to more businesses, organizations, and funders partnering with CD on this project to amplify the great work that is being done. It is a fact that one of the most effective ways of driving sustainable change through creativity is for the corporate world to provide the frameworks, systems, policies, assets, and seed funding needed to sustain the process.

Another big win for the WE!ARE movement is that it will help to improve the proper valuation in corporate policies for the growing social and economic value of creativity and innovation in Africa. Creatives will truly be regarded as using their talents to campaign for real solutions to challenges in Africa, and not just for leisurely endeavours. 

From our vantage point, we wholeheartedly celebrate the immense work and achievements of Crtve Development (CD) and its strategic partners, including the Climate Emergency Collaboration Group, Danish Government, Ford Foundation and the World Resources Institute (WRI) on this worthy cause they have embarked on. We hope that as a result of this work, the subject of climate change will no longer be treated as secondary or alien, but as an issue that all hands must be on deck to address with the collaboration of the corporate world, NGOs, funders, and the creative communities in Africa.

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NGOs - SDGs

Johns Hopkins Faith Adole is Giving Back to Africa

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Johns Hopkins University trained Faith Adole is a healthcare executive and entrepreneur paasionate about healthcare advocacy, public health and inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. In this exclusive with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online(BAO), Faith talks about her foundation, interventions in Africa and passion for improving healthcare access to underserved communities around the globe. Excerpts.

 

Background

Faith Adole is a trained nurse practitioner, healthcare executive, and entrepreneur. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer and founder of U-VOL Foundation, Inc. A servant leader, Faith is passionate about inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. She is committed to health care advocacy and bridging the gaps in existing health care and wellness needs for less privileged communities throughout the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Faith was inspired to start the U-VOL Foundation after volunteering in several international medical outreaches within Africa and seeing firsthand the poor health/hygiene practices, preventable health illnesses and even deaths in many disadvantaged and rural societies. Faith also noticed the existing inequities in Global Health delivery within Africa with a notable lack of Global Health leadership by African women as well as by those within the nursing profession.

As an African in diaspora, and as Nurse Executive with multiple years of field-based experience, Faith brings a fresh and dynamic approach to leading in the Community and Global Health sectors. Faith is currently completing her doctoral studies in Nursing as well as an MBA at Johns Hopkins University.

Inspiration behind U-Vol and what it’s set to achieve

U-VOL Foundation (United Vessels of Love Foundation) is a registered international non-profit healthcare foundation transforming lives one community at a time. Through its mission to help meet the unmet healthcare and wellness needs of vulnerable societies. This is done through medical outreach, health education, WASH and other healthcare sustainability initiatives.

The organization emphasizes love and care for all humanity through its global partnerships, its healthcare initiatives and through healthcare advocacy. U-VOL’s vision is to build dynamic relationships and partnerships with people, communities, and organizations to create global healthcare and wellness initiatives to lessen existing healthcare disparities worldwide.

Recent projects, challenges, funding and impact

Since 2015, Faith alongside U-VOL’s volunteer teams have embarked on successful international medical missions in Nigeria and in South Africa. As well as multiple domestic health and wellness domestic outreaches with the United States.

Under Faith’s leadership, her team has successfully launched a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program (WASH) in Nigeria in 2021. And recently concluded a solar powered clean water borehole project. The recent water project provided a sustainable source of clean water for 1700 people in Obi LGA of Benue State, Nigeria. Before the borehole, residents had zero access to clean water and frequented a local stream within the village called Orowu. Which dries up seasonally and gets contaminated easily during the rainy season as the same water source is used for multiple uses. This intervention will help to lessen the burden of preventable water-borne disease through harnessing a clean and long-lasting energy source. 

Water Project video HERE

U-VOL’s borehole intervention swiftly follows a medical mission in the same Obi community, where a team of medical volunteers treated over 600 people. The recent medical mission and clean water project was powered by volunteers, public and private support, and a local project management team. Through skillful planning, efficient operations, strategic partnerships, thought leadership, and perseverance, Faith has been able to overcome challenges that come from influencing positive change within the African health sector despite various obstacles.

Your view on the health sector in Nigeria and Africa

“The truth is, there is so much opportunity for Africans within the diaspora and for those within the continent to collaborate for long lasting impact and change. I love the saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go further, go together’. It’s high time Africans begin to write their own narrative and leverage on the knowledge, skills, resources and influence within the continent as well as in the diaspora. Collaboration and unity will help us move forward. This is because we need both dialogue and action.

We need various stakeholders at multiple levels as well as diversity and inclusion of thoughts and hands. Community development and relief organizations are still relevant and have their place but it will take all of us to truly impact healthcare in the long term, through advocacy, healthcare policy, legislation, research, technology, education development, infrastructure, job creation and through many other avenues.”

Finally, your plans for the year

U-VOL plans to continue expanding its newly launched Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. Which is targeted at empowering and advocating for vulnerable rural communities throughout various parts of Nigeria. The organisation hopes to help aid both governmental and other NGO efforts to eradicate open defecation, provide health promotion education activities on hygiene and sanitation, and promote the construction of public toilet facilities.

 

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