By Dipo Olowookere
The Irish Government has provided €7.2 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the Ministry of Education and Sports through the Gender Unit, to improve quality education for the most vulnerable children and adolescent girls across the Karamoja region of Uganda.
The Irish Aid-supported programme will target almost 150,000 children in schools in Karamoja (76,606 boys and 57,834 girls from 283 primary schools and 6,716 boys and 4,891 girls in 23 secondary schools) – with a special focus on children at risk of dropping out of school and children with disabilities and special learning needs.
“This contribution from Ireland is critical in improving the skills and future of young people in Karamoja,” the Irish Ambassador, Dónal Cronin, said. “Education is key to the region’s development and this support, to be implemented by our partner UNICEF, is part of our ongoing efforts to empower some of the most vulnerable communities in Uganda.”
Children in the Karamoja region experience multiple vulnerabilities. Approximately 82 per cent of all 6 to 17 year old children in Karamoja are living in poverty and are deprived of at least two or more basic services.
For example, the average rates for primary school completion and transition to secondary school are 14 per cent and 25 per cent in Karamoja compared to the national average of 67 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.
The persistent challenges of low enrolment, poor quality education, teacher absenteeism, and the absence of flexible alternative education opportunities to meet needs mean that dropout rates remain a problem in Karamoja.
In some communities, education is not given much value and children, especially girls, are subjected to child marriages, female genital mutilation, child trafficking and child labour.
The Irish support will therefore focus on enhancing teacher effectiveness; strengthening school management; assessing and monitoring learning outcomes; addressing issues of violence in schools; strengthening girls’ education; and promoting peacebuilding and conflict-sensitive education. The support will also address cultural and social practices that continue to undermine inclusive and quality learning.
The five year programme aims to reduce gender gaps in enrolment and completion; improve learning outcomes in basic education; increase the transition of students from primary school to secondary school; and increase awareness within families and communities on the importance of investing in education for both girls and boys.
“This support from the people of Ireland will help thousands of children to stay in school and have a higher quality education, especially adolescent girls who have a critical role in transforming the living conditions of their families and communities in the future,” said Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Uganda.
“Given every additional year in school can increase that child’s future income by up to 10 per cent, this programme will greatly improve the futures of thousands of children as well as the Karamoja region as a whole.”
Ireland has supported improved education access and quality in the Karamoja sub-region for many years now, including most recently the rehabilitation of 21 primary schools across all seven districts. In addition to this support to UNICEF, Irish Aid also provided €150,000 to UNICEF to enhance gender equality in access to services and opportunities in the education sector in ten districts of Busoga region and seven districts of Karamoja.
Educating Every Nigerian Child Our Priority—Stanbic IBTC Trustees
Stanbic IBTC Trustees Limited, through the Stanbic IBTC Education Trust (SET), has made assisting Nigerian parents and guardians to secure their children and ward’s academic future one of her top priorities.
SET is a flexible and easy investment plan with long-term benefits that support parents and guardians striving to provide quality education for their children and wards.
With SET, parents and guardians can ensure the payment of their children and wards’ school fees as education-related expenses are directly effected by the institutions of learning, be it elementary to tertiary levels. This action ensures that unforeseeable events do not cause a disruption in their education which may negatively impact their future.
Education trust funds are invested in conservative-type instruments and professionally managed and administered by a reputable Corporate Trustee and Fund Manager.
Parents and guardians can also nominate their children and wards’ SET accounts as a beneficiary for their life insurance policies; a clear example is the Group Life Insurance Policy. Situations like this would ensure that the portion allocated to each child’s SET account is received and utilized for the child’s education. This has proven to be extremely beneficial if the child is a minor (under 18 years of age) or still in school.
Speaking about the positive impact of SET on the Nigerian child, Mr Charles Omoera, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Trustees Limited, said that the organisation understands the significant impact of quality education on every child and the positive effect it will have in shaping their future.
Mr Omoera urged parents and guardians to put in place SET for their children and wards to help them address any adverse circumstances likely to halt their education. He stated that parents and guardians must always strive to give their children and wards quality education to position them for rare opportunities attached to the benefits of having quality education.
Stanbic IBTC Trustees remains committed to ensuring that Nigerian children have access to quality education from elementary to tertiary education to help develop their minds and contribute meaningfully to society.
Orevaoghene Whiskey Emerges InterswitchSPAK 4.0 Winner
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A student of Top Faith International School, Akwa Ibom State, Miss Orevaoghene Whiskey, has won the fourth edition of the prestigious InterswitchSPAK National Science Competition.
She is now the first female winner of the 13-week Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) show, which had over 20,000 applications across the country.
With the win, the 16-year-old best STEM student in Nigeria will receive the grand prize of N7.5 million in scholarships, among other exciting prizes.
InterswitchSPAK Nigeria is the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of Africa’s leading integrated payments and digital commerce company, Interswitch.
The programme aired on domestic and terrestrial television stations, providing a platform for brilliant young Nigerians to showcase their knowledge in STEM subjects.
In the fourth edition, Adesayo Elumaro of The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State, clinched the second spot and went home with N4 million, while Precious Akinyemi of Rhema Chapel International School, Oyo State, grabbed the third position and N1 million in scholarship.
Speaking on the essence of the initiative, the Chief Customer Experience Officer at Interswitch, Ms Oremeyi Akah, emphasised the need for more young Africans to tow the STEM path, thereby underscoring the goal of the InterswitchSPAK National Science competition.
”Research by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) reveals that less than 25% of African higher education students pursue STEM-related career fields,” Ms Akah said.
Based on this premise, she expressed concern about the retrogressive impact this could pose on Africa’s talent pool which may not be opportune to acquire the necessary tech skills to drive innovation on the continent in the near future.
However, she submitted that through initiatives such as the InterswitchSPAK National Science competition, hope holds sway because “Interswitch is inspired by its vision of a prosperous Africa, driven by the exchange of value and commerce; an Africa where Africans are equipped with the requisite knowledge to solve the unique challenges faced on the continent.”
She added that the reward and prizes totalled N12.5 million was a way to fund the “dreams and aspirations” of the winners as they work towards creating an impactful future for Nigeria and Africa in general.
Last season, 16-year-old Jubril Dokun of Brainfield College, Salolo, Lagos State, who snagged the first prize, also emerged among the top 10 highest scorers in the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME).
With a vision of a prosperous Africa, Interswitch has pledged to provide enabling platforms that encourage the future generation of STEM professionals who will contribute to the growth of Nigeria and Africa at large. This has been evidently demonstrated with InterswitchSPAK rewarding 12 outstanding STEM students with a total of N50 million over the last four years.
InterswitchSPAK 4.0 Finalists Nudge for N7.5m University Scholarships
As the semifinals of the InterswitchSPAK National Science Competition draws to an end, nine contestants are left in the race for the crown as the best Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) student in Nigeria.
The student who emerges tops will bag the grand prize of N7.5 million in scholarship for a five-year period, a brand-new laptop, and a monthly stipend. The second-place winner will go home with N4 million scholarship spread over a period of three years, a brand-new laptop, and a monthly stipend.
The third-place winner gets N1 million scholarship spread over a period of one year, a brand-new laptop, and a monthly stipend.
It is interesting to note that these students emerged from over 20,000 students that sat for the Crux Computer-Based Test (CBT) held nationally last year to compete for the bragging rights as the country’s best STEM student.
Preparations for the grand finale are in place and the excitement is high as followers of the show anticipate a stiff and rousing competition between the unusual mix of contestants left in the race.
While girls have made it through to the finale of previous seasons of the competition’s 4-year run, this season has the highest number of female finalists, they include Precious Akinyemi of Rhema Chapel International School, Oyo State, Joyce Onubogu of British Spring, Awka, Anambra; Towoju Atinuke of Seolad International College, Ogun State; and Orevaoghene Whiskey of Top Faith International School, Akwa Ibom State.
Other finalists equally competing for the grand prize include Zulqarnain Abubakar of Apt Scholars Universal College, Ogun State; Chimdubem Duruji of The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State; Oraibi Okari of Jephthah Comprehensive Secondary School, Rivers State; Adesayo Elumaro of The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State; and Stephen Nwaneri of Adedokun International Schools, Ogun State.
Over the years, InterswitchSPAK has remained committed to driving the interest of young African students in STEM subjects by encouraging and rewarding them in their pursuit for excellence. InterswitchSPAK is a flagship CSR initiative of Interswitch, Africa’s leading integrated payments, and digital commerce company.
To catch the grand finale, tune in to DSTV Africa Magic Family 154 on Sunday, 29th January 2023 at 5:30 pm, with a repeat broadcast on Wednesday, 1st February 2023 at 3 pm; and on the AIT Network at 7.30 pm on Sunday, 5th February 2023. You don’t have to miss the action while on the go, you can watch the show on platforms such as LinkedIn and YouTube.
Stay tuned for the finals. It promises to be nothing short of entertaining, educating, and thrilling. Bond with family while at it. What better way to inspire the budding generation than to give them something to aspire to, knowing that if they can dream it, they can achieve it.
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