Lafarge Africa held the grand finale of the 6th edition its flagship CSR intervention, Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC), on November 7 at the Lagos Oriental Hotel. The 2019 competition, themed, Bridging the Literacy Gap Together, was won by Master David Emmanuella and Miss Barikpoa Prosper, from Community Primary School, Rivers State. Ogun and Enugu States won the second and third positions respectively. The winners were awarded scholarships, trophies and various gifts.
The winners emerged after four months of coaching and testing the literacy skills of public primary school pupils (aged 9 -13 years) in all of Nigeria’s 109 senatorial districts across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition enhances pupils’ language and vocabulary skills with the overall goal of improving the literacy skills (Reading, Writing, Pronunciation and Spelling).
Reading is a critical skill which enables pupils to learn successfully and acquire other skills later in life. According to the Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc, Mr. Mobolaji Balogun, “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”. Since 2014, more than 700,000 primary school pupils in 1,665 schools across 544 local government areas have shared in the learning and fun of the Lafarge African National Literacy Competition. Lafarge has partnered State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in all the states of the country, as well as the Ovie Brume Foundation and TEP centre in organising the LANLC. For the 2019 edition, Lafarge welcomed three new partners – the British Council, Sterling Bank and Oando Foundation.
Besides the LANLC, Lafarge Africa has over the years invested in other interventions in the education sector. The leading construction materials firm awards 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. It also runs training schemes for artisans in the construction industry to improve quality and safety. Regarding the 2019 Grand Finale of the LANLC, the Country Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Africa, Mr. Michel Puchercos said, “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”. Pucheros said that Lafarge Africa is proud of its contributions to improving education in Nigeria and remains committed to its interventions in the sector.
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.
The Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development Director, Lafarge Africa, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, in her closing remarks, said the objective of the literacy competition is to improve the literacy of less privileged Nigerian children and by so doing give them a better foundation to learn successfully and acquire critical skills. She explained that “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’’.
The 2019 Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition like previous editions attracted high ranking stakeholders and dignitaries from Nigerian education sector. These included 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.