Edo State Wins Lafarge National Literacy Competition
Edo state has emerged winners of this year’s Lafarge National Literacy Competition. 11 year old Yusuf Hassan and 10-year old Faith Toun-Agbai from Edo state emerged winners in the keenly contested finals. The other finalists were Plateau, Anambra, Ondo, Kano and Gombe. Ondo state took the second prize while Kano and Gombe emerged 3rd and 4th respectively.
Delivering a keynote address at the event, former Minister of Education Dr Oby Ezekwesili commended Lafarge for focusing the initiative on public primary schools across the country. She decried the neglect of public schools in Nigeria and called the private and public sector as well as even religious organisations to team up in addressing the crisis in Education in Nigeria. Dr Oby maintained that human is our greatest asset in Nigeria but could also become a liability is our population is poorly educated.
The Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc Mr Mobolaji Balogun lamented the fact that Nigeria's literacy level is 59.6% (for people aged 15 and above) which is significantly below the global average of 86.3% and the sub-Saharan Africa average of 64%. He said interventions like the Lafarge National Literacy Competition would help improve the situations if all stakeholders devoted more time and resources to improving the quality of education in Nigeria.
On his part the CEO of Lafarge Africa Plc Mr Michel Puchercos commended the finalist for putting up a spirited performance throughout the competition from local government, state and regional finals. “For an initiative that started as a Reading Project across the five locations where Lafarge Africa is present, the competition has grown into a national event. The impact achieved is beyond the children you see here today. Our overall target is to lay a solid foundation for improving the literacy level across the country” said Michel.
Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, Director of Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development at Lafarge said “the competition seeks to touch lives of our diverse people in a sustainable way and Lafarge Africa Plc is pleased with the positive impact we have made in the past four years. She disclosed that over 2,700 public primary school students took part in the competition while over 300,000 primary school pupils across 244 local government areas (LGAs) have been impacted since the competition began in 2014.
National Literacy Competition is one of the initiatives of Lafarge Africa Plc to support government efforts in raising the standard of English Language in public primary schools. It is in line with the company’s sustainability strategy – The 2030 Plan – with the ambition to enhance the quality of life for all. The 2030 Plan is grouped into 4 pillars: Climate, Circular Economy, Water and Nature and People & Communities. The literacy competition falls under the People & Communities pillar. According to Mrs. Ambrose-Medebem “Education is a priority under the People & Communities pillar; the National Literacy Competition is one way we intend to make a difference in the lives of Nigerians.”
Primary school students between the ages of 9 and 13 years are the primary target of the competition, which is organized with support from the respective State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB) and the Ovie Brume Foundation, Lafarge Africa’s implementation partner.