Stakeholders Seek Innovative, Sustainable Education for Underprivileged Children

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Operators within the private sector have been charged to promote innovative and sustainable approaches to uplift the educational standards for underprivileged children living in low-income communities.

It was submitted that private sector collaborations would offer the advantage of diffusing emotional burdens, leading to more informed and intelligent decision-making, as together, they can achieve much more to support the provision of sustainable education for the Nigeria youth.

This was the view of some participants at the Special Foundation annual summit, the Transforming Education Summit 2023, themed Enhancing Access and Quality Education in Africa.

The event, held at the Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC) in Lagos, had in attendance visionaries, partners, corporate leaders, and esteemed diplomatic representatives.

Some of the participants were Mrs Oluwayemisi Ogunmola, Managing Director of EDC Fund Management Limited, a member of the Ecobank Group; Mr Abubakar Suleiman, CEO of Sterling Bank; Mrs Oluwatomi Somefun, CEO of Unity Bank; Gbenga Oyebode, Board Chairman at African Philanthropy Forum; Asue Ighodalo, Founding Partner at Banwo & Ighodalo; Adeyemi Ademola, MD of First E&P; and Chukwuma Nwanze, MD Credit Direct.

In his opening message, Mr Seyi Akinwale, Founder of The Special Foundation, said the landmark occasion sought to redefine the trajectory of education and leadership, as “we build a formidable platform that can confront societal challenges, proper solitaires and uphold the aspirations enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals. The summit aimed to chart innovative and sustainable approaches to uplift the educational standards for underprivileged children living in low-income communities”.

“Founded several years ago, The Special Foundation’s mission is to raise Africa’s future leaders by tackling the educational crisis in our society through increased access to education.

“What’s truly rewarding is our journey from a single child nine years ago to now impacting over fifteen thousand children and continuing to educate more than four hundred children. This success is a testament to the collaborative spirit of the institutions and individuals here today,” he stated.

Mr Abubakar Suleiman, in his speech, articulated the role of the private sector, emphasising its responsibility to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

“In societies where children reside in impoverished conditions, we, the privileged elite, are responsible for eradicating their suffering. It is not an act of benevolence but a solemn obligation,” he said.

“A significant issue within the corporate sector is the pursuit of success at the expense of society. Some corporate actions inadvertently contribute to the creation of impoverished communities.

“Then, after achieving success, they attempt to ameliorate the problems they have indirectly caused. This approach raises concerns, and I believe that corporations must build their enterprises responsibly, avoiding the creation of slums and societal impoverishment,” he submitted.

On her part, Mrs Oluwatomi Somefun emphasized the power of collaboration for the greater good, stating, “Individual efforts can be limiting, as we often find ourselves overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges. Collaborations offer the advantage of diffusing emotional burdens, leading to more informed and intelligent decision-making. Together, we can achieve much more.”

Also, Mrs Ogunmola said the organisation supports the promotion of quality education for youths as an avenue to create future leaders for both Nigeria and Africa. This, she said is at the centre of the corporate social responsibility activities of the EDC.

She maintained that the initiative is ensuring that children who come from underserved communities are given the opportunity and a shot at making it in life.

“The value connection between us and TSF was instant. As one of the thriving asset management firms in Nigeria, we don’t just proffer top-notch financial solutions to our clients but also promote financial inclusion in our society.

“We recognize there is an urgent need to support the indigent in our communities to enable them to integrate with the larger society, where opportunity is available for everyone to thrive, especially the young people amongst us,” she stated.

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