UNESCOâ€™s EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010 stated that Nigeria alone contributed over 10% to the total global population of primary school children who were out of school in 2007. It also stated that, unlike Ethiopia and the United Republic of Tanzania who had each reduced out-of-school numbers by over 3 million between 1999 and 2007, Nigeria had made only limited progress. Other findings in the report include the fact that Nigeria raises 34% of national income in government revenue, but has one of the lowest levels of commitment to primary education among the forty-six countries covered in the report. It noted that in the cases of Chad and Nigeria, the problem is less one of revenue mobilization than the low priority attached to education in general and basic education in particular (Reaching the Marginalized, UNESCO 2010).
According to Professor Jane Lincove in the Economics of Education Review Reports published in 2009, poor parents in Nigeria no longer face tuition charges, but books and uniforms cost more than fees once did (Lincove, 2009).
UKF is therefore committed to investing heavily in education, most especially early childhood and primary education to improve the conditions described in these reports. Our Back to School, Library and School Environment programs are the main programs we implement to achieve this goal.
Back to School
UKFâ€™s annual Back to School project provides school bags and essential school supplies to school pupils attending selected Â public primary schools and living in orphanages. The impact of the project on the level of enthusiasm among teachers and pupils at these facilities has greatly inspired us to continue assisting them in their quest to lift themselves out of poverty through education. UKF donated 6,000Â School Bags, 60,000 note books and over 20,000 pens, pencils and crayonsÂ donated to children from low income families between 2008 and 2010, and our goal is to continue to exceed these numbers annually.
On January 11, 2011, UKF obtained approval from the office of her Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, to operate two free libraries at Adebule and Ojodu Primary Schools in Lagos State. A total population of over 3000 students will benefit directly from the successful operation of these libraries. UKF will staff and continuously manage the libraries to ensure that they operate effectively. We will also implement interesting library programs to facilitate the development of Reading, Mathematical and Information Technology skills among the children, who are mostly from low income families. We hope our libraries will be places that afford these children opportunities to use books and computers to learn about Malaysia, China, Australia etc, so that they can then begin to dream of a World bigger than their immediate environment.” These libraries are set to commence operations on April 1, 2011. UKF plans to establish at least eight additional free libraries before the end of 2012.
UKF conducted an assessment of the conditions at Adebule primary school, Lagos (population of 450 students) in 2008. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the condition and availability of basic infrastructure and educational materials needed to ensure that these children who are mainly from low income families receive good quality education in a comfortable environment.. Our assessment revealed the following problems:
- Pupils were forced to begin their education on a weak note as they lacked comfortable furniture, toys, audio visual learning aids and work books.
- Teachers had no classroom furniture, they had to either use the same furniture used by the children or work without any chairs or tables.
- Several classrooms had broken floors (pot holes) and no ceiling fans.
- There were significant health hazards due to lack of clean and safe water.
- Lack of modern toilet facilities.
- Several classrooms have collapsing or already collapsed roofs.
- The school has no playground equipment, public address systems and musical equipment to help develop social skills.
We visited more schools in 2009 and 2010 and noted similar problems. We believe that these problems have severe negative impacts on the ability of the pupils to learn and the teachersâ€™ capability to teach in a safe, conducive and comfortable environment, thereby automatically placing the pupils at an unfair disadvantage when compared to their counterparts in private schools. The following are some of the projects UKF has executed to alleviate some of these concerns:
- We constructed a secure fence around the entire school compound of Wesley and Wright primary schools in Somolu to protect the children from the dangerous and unsanitary canal located next to the school (2008).
- We renovated the school toilets at Adebule primary School in 2009.
- We installed clean water systems in Adebule in 2009 and 2010.
- We expended more than $20,000 on construction of new and comfortable school furniture for both teachers and students in 5 public primary schools in Lagos State in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
- We donated television sets, DVD players and a variety of activity books and toys to the Nursery (ECCD) classes at Adebule School in 2010.
- We donated a portable generator set to Adebule primary School in 2009 in order to combat the incessant power outage at the school
- We provided a training program titled â€œDevelopmentally Appropriate Practices: Using different materials to help children learnâ€ to 20 teachers in August 2010.