By Oghenefego Obaebor
Coca-Cola Nigeria, through its Foundation, in partnership with the Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has inaugurated a block of five (5) classrooms, ten (10) units of sanitation facilities, playground and a library complex at the First Baptist Primary School, Ijaye Oja-Ale, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The project is part of the Coca-Cola Foundation/UNDP New World Program in collaboration with Ogun State Government and Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF) aimed at upgrading critical infrastructural in the school, which was established in 1910 as a missionary school adopted by the First Baptist Church before becoming a publicly owned primary school in the 1970s.
Speaking at the handover ceremony of the project held at the school premises in Abeokuta on Friday, May 10, 2019, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Aikulola Olu Ola, expressed the deep appreciation of the state government and the people of the state, explaining that the project would go a long way in improving the quality of education offered to the pupils of the school while also impacting the community positively.
While delivering the keynote remarks, the Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Mr. Bhupendra Suri who was represented by the Public Affairs & Communications Manager, Amaka Onyemelukwe reiterated the company’s commitment saying, “Each decision our company makes is a chance for us to do the right thing. We are relentlessly self-aware of our role in the world and the impact we can have. That is why we are investing to help care for the people and communities we deepen on to succeed.
Onyemelukwe further stated that “The Coca-Cola Foundation since it’s inception in 1984, has given back nearly $1 billion to help strengthen local communities worldwide. Originally focused on learning inside and outside the classroom, today the Foundation supports our global water leadership programs, community recycling. and women’s economic empowerment programmes. It’s our belief that this project will impact positively in shaping the lives of these future leaders of our country.
Delivering the Project’s overview, the Project Manager who is also the Public Policy Analyst, Coca-Cola West Africa Business Unit, Mr. Emeka Mba explained that the Project is part of the 4th Generation Program by The Coca-Cola Foundation and Global Water challenge implemented by Youth empowerment Foundation to support the SDGs on Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Education. He stated that the project began with detailed Needs assessment conducted in consultation with Ogun SUBEB.
Mba stated that the scope of this project includes a new block of 5 classrooms equipped with furniture; a block of 20 units of functional gender segregated Sanitation facilities for pupils and teachers; newly constructed and manicured playground to support the psycho-social development of the pupils; a new block of Library equipped with audio-visual facilities to enhance learning and development; Rehabilitated old blocks of 3classrooms; reticulated water facility to provide access to portable water to the estimated 3000 residents in the neighbourhood.
“Today, teachers are motivated; school enrollment has since increased from 440 to 578 due to this scale of intervention. Electricity, which hitherto was a luxury to the school since it was founded in 1910 has now been installed through the converted advocacy of the Project team. The next phase of the support for curriculum development designed to enhance competitiveness of the pupils. A 6month literacy component of the programme would be deployed to the benefit of the schools in the LGEA to improve basic reading and writing skills, Hygiene, Responsible waste disposal and management” he added.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the former Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology and Ogun State House of Assembly Member-Elect, Mrs. Modupe Mujuota commended Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Ogun State SUBEB, the School Base Management Committee (SBMC), the entire Ijaiye Community, the Staff and Pupils of the School for their commitment and tenacity for the successful implementation of the laudable project.
Mujuota then charged the school staff and Pupils of the School, the Parents Teacher Association (PTA), and the community to ensure that the facilities are adequately maintained while calling on other well-meaning corporate organizations to emulate the company by supporting the government in providing adequate infrastructure in schools in the state
In his own remarks, the Chairman, Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Abdul Jeleel Olatunde Okewole described the hand-over ceremony as a testimony of the benefits of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in bridging infrastructure gap in communities.
He also applauded the School Base Management Committee (SBMC) of the school under the Chairmanship of Alhaji Juwon Labode, the teachers and staff of the school for their unrelenting and unflinching effort towards the actualization of the project.
Speaking on behalf of the Ijaiye Oja-Ale community, the Balogun of Ijaiye and Aare of Egbaland, High Chief Ganiyu Alemo Babayeju thanked Coca-Cola Nigeria for the kind gesture which he noted would go a long way to improve the quality of education of the children and general wellbeing of the Ijaiye Community. He promised that the community would do everything within its powers to ensure that the facilities within the school and the water facilities are properly maintained.