The importance of education, being the bedrock of the society and the tool that breaks down all barriers cannot be overemphasised, education is part of the foundation of all progress and growth, both as an individual and as a society. For children who will contribute significantly to the future workforce, access to quality education at the basic education level is critical for their later learning and future success.

A strong early learning foundation is the ladder to ensure a future where they can adapt and thrive. Children, especially from poor backgrounds stand a chance at a bright future with quality education. This can be said of children who have graduated from Bridge Nigeria community nursery and primary schools located in underserved areas in Lagos and Osun state. Fatimat Ibrahim, a graduate of Bridge was recently recognised for being selected as a 2021/2022 African Leadership Academy (ALA) finalist, demonstrating outstanding potential in areas of leadership, entrepreneurship, passion for Africa and academic achievement. Fatima attended a Bridge school in Ibeju Lekki and emerged as the best performing female pupil in the national common entrance examination in 2019. It qualified her for selection on national merit to attend a federal secondary school of her choice. Due to her exceptional performance, Fatimat won a scholarship from the Purple Girl Foundation, covering her secondary school education.

Fatima’s success story started when her mother enrolled her at Bridge, a school with a track record of supporting and training teachers to help bring out the best in their pupils. Fatima joined Bridge after hearing from her friends who told her they learn a lot everyday and how much fun they found the school. According to Fatimat, her teachers make lessons fun and interesting, and are always happy to explain anything she found confusing. The once timid Fatimat had to come out of her shell due to the personable approach used by Bridge in teaching. Bridge uses a teaching and learning approach that involves age-appropriate learning, by adapting to a child’s level of understanding, identifying the readiness of a child to learn, and then following the best-suited method of teaching.

Another graduate, Shiji Sowemimo recounted how the learnings and experiences at Bridge have propelled him to continue to excel and break boundaries even in his secondary school. Shiji who was the best performing Bridge pupil in the 2021 national common entrance exams urged all Bridge pupils to continue to be worthy ambassadors of Bridge as they continue their academic pursuit and encouraged them to remain focused, dream big, be resourceful, plan to succeed and never get tired of making a difference. “I am privileged to share my experiences and successes with you because of the support I have received from my mother, teachers and level of hardwork and dedication I have put into my studies” He noted.

The recent disclosure by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) about the poor learning outcomes in Nigeria’s primary education has brought to the fore the dire nature of the situation in primary schools across the country.

The UNICEF report noted that while some 10 million pupils are out of school in Nigeria, 70 per cent of those in primary schools cannot read or perform basic numeracy tasks at the age of 10. They are not learning anything that would add value to themselves and our society. It warned that in a couple of decades, the current street children and those in school just attending classes and not learning anything won’t add value to the society and economy; putting at risk Nigeria’s plans to become an African powerhouse.

Consequently, the onus is for all education stakeholders in the government and private sector to invest in delivering education and enhancing the teaching and learning methods. Ensuring that schools are well equipped with trained teachers and great instructional design. The only thing that limits a child is the quality of the education they receive.

This has been the focus of Bridge Nigeria, a network of community nursery and primary schools in underserved communities. Bridge is helping to build a prosperous future by creating classrooms and schools with equity of opportunity.

According to the Managing Director at Bridge Nigeria, Foyinsola Akinjayeju said “We are proud of our efforts at Bridge to elevate every child’s prospects through quality education as a foundation for broader life opportunities and have designed our classrooms, teaching materials and school structure to empower and support our pupils. This takes deliberate thought and intentional design.”

Education and work in Sub-Saharan Africa will determine the livelihoods of nearly a billion people in the region and drive growth and development in generations to come. And Nigeria, being the most populous nation will contribute significantly to the number, hence, the need to build a nation with an educated and skilled workforce that is stable, prosperous and competitive.

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