Following a keenly contested grand finale, winners have emerged in the sixth Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC) with the theme ‘Bridging the Literacy Gap Together’. Miss Emmanuella David and Master Barikpoa Prosper, from Community Primary School, Rivers State, won the first prize and Ogun and Enugu States won the second and third positions respectively. The winners were awarded scholarships, trophies and various gifts.
The grand finale event which had in attendance key stakeholders from the private and public sectors, also created opportunities for the children to engage and interact amongst themselves, explore various book exhibition stands, take reading sessions and also participate in a spelling bee competition.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun said, “Literacy is crucial to the development of any society and it is described by UNESCO as a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities”.
According to him, as an organization, Lafarge Africa continues to invest in educational interventions including scholarships and bursary awards for children within our host communities, training programmes, renovation and construction of classroom blocks and other facilities within schools, computer IT training, skills acquisition programmes among others.
‘For a country like Nigeria, there is an urgent need to work towards securing a sustainable future. We believe that a sustainable future will enable growth, global peace and security and technological advancement. We need to prepare our children for a future where they will compete globally with ease. That future begins with improving the literacy levels of every child in Nigeria today.’
Launched in 2014 as a flagship CSR intervention by Lafarge Africa Plc, the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition has since grown to become an annual national initiative positively impacting children and teachers across Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, the Country Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Africa, Mr. Michel Puchercos commended all the students that participated at every stage of the competition.
“It is rewarding to watch these brilliant children grow and improve every year. We dream of a bright future for every Nigerian child through basic education. Six years on, the visible outcomes we have seen encourage us to do more. We have touched the lives of more than 700,000 primary school pupils in 1,665 schools across 544 local government areas. The Competition is delivered across all 109 senatorial districts in all 36 states of the federation and the FCT and is organized with the support of the State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in all the states of the country, with our implementing partners – Ovie Brume Foundation and TEP centre”.
As a company, we are proud of this achievement and do believe that it will inspire more well-meaning Nigerians and citizens all over Africa and the world to contribute to improving the lives of the people around them, in any way they can, he concluded.
The Special Guest of Honour, His Royal Highness, Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, commended the company for taking up the initiative to bridge the country’s widening literacy gap. He expressed his passion for children and women and urged more companies to join hands against illiteracy. ‘We spend a lot on government and infrastructure but there isn’t enough being spent on education for children.” He remarked.
Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development Director, Lafarge Africa, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, in her closing remarks, said the objective of the competition was to create more literacy enhancement opportunities for indigent students across Nigeria.
“We have been doing this successfully for the past five years and we are quite happy with the positive impact we have made so far. This year, we are excited to have existing and new partners on board with us, like the British Council, Sterling Bank and Oando Foundation. We look forward to what we will achieve together. We believe that as we continue on this journey, there is room for more partnerships as there is a still a lot to be done‘.
“The Literacy Competition is part of our overall sustainable development strategy, our sustainability ambition which has four pillars- Climate and Energy, Circular Economy, Environment and Community.— each with specific actions and targets to ensure we achieve our ambitions,’’ she said.
The overall winners from Rivers State, who also got scholarships to complete their secondary school education, thanked Lafarge Africa and expressed delight at the opportunity to participate and the joy of being the winners.
Present at the event were special guests of honour and dignitaries from across Nigeria including His Highness, Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II. Representative of the Minister of Education; Mr. Agada A.A, Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele; First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun, First Lady of Cross River State, Mrs. Lynda Ayade, First Lady of Gombe State, Hajia Asma’u Yahaya, Representative of the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Babatunde. Others were Representatives of the Executive Director of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Mrs. Bolanle Ishola and Commissioner for Education in Lagos State, Mrs. Adefisayo amongst others.