By Dipo Olowookere
A Nigerian educator named Mr Zannah Mustapha has been honoured with the 2017 Nansen Refugee Award by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Mr Mustapha was recognised in Geneva for founding a school in Maiduguri, Nigeria, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The school has stayed open throughout the conflict with Boko Haram, which has seen some 20,000 killed across the Lake Chad region, and millions more displaced.
The school provides a free education, as well as free meals, uniforms and health care, to children affected and displaced by violence. Those orphaned by the conflict on both sides are welcomed into Mustapha’s classrooms as a sign of the reconciliation he hopes to achieve in the region.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, presented the Nansen medal to the Nigerian.
“Tonight we recognize and celebrate the achievements of Zannah Mustapha, a man of courage and peace,” said the UN refugee chief.
“He had the courage to build a school. He had the courage to offer education to children affected by violence. I cannot think of any better choice for this year’s Nansen Award.”
In the decade since its inception, Mustapha’s school has swelled from 36 students to 540. Desperate for an education, thousands more children have added their names to its waiting list. In 2016, Mustapha opened a second school just a few kilometres away from the first.
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie also provided a video message of congratulation for Mr. Mustapha. In her address she praised his work and its legacy.
“The courage it takes to defend children’s’ rights to education in the face of Boko Haram is extraordinary”, she said. “Zannah Mustapha has brought light to a region that has been terrorised for years.”
“Mr Mustapha, you are an inspiration. I hope this award encourages you and others to continue this vital work.”
In his speech, Mr Zannah Mustapha thanked all of the teachers and widows he has worked with and praised the students at his schools, “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would see these children progressing in such a traumatic period in their lives”, he said. “When I look at the children’s faces I see resilience and stability.”
“We are not in a journey to be the same but we are in a journey to understand our differences and overcome our adversity. That we can achieve with education”, he continued.
“There are so many children in conflict zones not able to go to school. We have shown what is possible.”
Mr Mustapha’s work in the region also includes negotiating the release of Boko Haram hostages. When the 21 young women who had been held captive for more than two years were released, Mustapha was there. He had been instrumental in securing their freedom – as well as the release of 82 additional Chibok girls in May 2017.
For more than 60 years, UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award has recognised those who have shown outstanding dedication to the refugee cause. The 2017 winner was honoured with a ceremony that featured renowned Afrobeat musician Tony Allen, an acoustic set by Japanese artist Miyavi and a classical violin piece from renowned soloist Mariela Shaker. The host for the evening was Anita Rani and the keynote address was given by Syrian refugee Nujeen Mustafa.
The Nansen Refugee Award alumnae include the famous as well as unsung heroes; Eleanor Roosevelt, Graça Machel and Luciano Pavarotti among its laureates, but a number of remarkable unsung heroes, such as Mr.Mustapha, who have dedicated themselves to fighting the injustices suffered by the forcibly displaced.
LuTA Digital School to Revolutionise Education System in Africa
By Adedapo Adesanya
LuTA, an education technology platform, has launched its operations to spur digital education in Africa with plans to make the continent competitive when it comes to skills relevant to the 21st century.
To achieve this, the startup has built a digital school to be at the forefront of digital education in Africa to unlock global opportunities, marketability and talent with code and no-code tech skills.
The company currently has more than 11,000 applicants, and projections show that it is on its way to training five million students annually across Africa within the next five years.
The African online education market will be worth $77 billion by 2026, but this is affected as more than 900 million Africans do not have access to quality education due to broken, expensive, outdated and archaic knowledge, curriculum and teaching method that have stalled growth in Africa.
However, with a growing internet penetration on the continent set to reach 1.24 billion in 2025, the opportunities are boundless and LuTA with its digital school hopes to capitalise on this to bridge the gap and unleash the potential and ingenuity of youths across the continent.
According to the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LuTA, Mr Kolawole Akinsumbo, the school will help revolutionise the education system in Africa as well as promote inclusivity for people based on their various skill levels.
“We are building a digital school to change the African narrative and to make digital education accessible in Africa to unlock global opportunities, marketability and talent with code and no-code tech skills.
“Poverty, exclusion, and skill chasm is already pilling pressure on the ability for people to be educated. Africa is bedevilled by many issues. In some places, conflict is not allowing children and youths to go to school, some were heavily impacted by the coronavirus, and even in places with relative peace, there is one strike or the other making it difficult to get the proper education.
“So, we can see that this only points to the fact that the current education system is not working and we want to eliminate these barriers with our digital school offering which will train about five million people in the next few years,” he said.
Entries for Ecobank National Essay Competition Close Saturday
By Dipo Olowookere
The national essay competition organised by Ecobank Nigeria Limited to commemorate Children’s Banking Month is gradually gaining momentum, especially as the window for the submission of entries draws closer.
According to the financial institution, all entries are expected to be filed to AllENG-ConsumerProductsTeams@ecobank.com, with the contact details of the parent/guardian on or before Saturday, May 21, 2022, at 12 noon.
Results would be sent on all entries by Wednesday, May 25 at 12 noon and winners will be celebrated and given their gifts on May 28, 2022, as part of activities to mark the International Children’s Day.
The contest is for children between the ages of 13 and 16 and the topic is What will you consider as the future of banking. Participants are required to write the essay in 400 words, in font size 12 with one and a half line spacing. Winners would be given laptops, educational tabs, and several consolation prizes.
The Head of Consumer Banking at Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Korede Demola-Adeniyi, in a statement made available to Business Post, explained that the bank initiated the competition to expose children to financial education early in life, adding that it is also part of the lender’s commitment towards the Nigerian child.
According to her, “the month of May is set aside by the bank to celebrate childhood and how our children enrich our lives. We acknowledge the importance of our customers, young and old, to Ecobank’s ongoing success story. The bank, whose vision is to build a world-class pan-African bank and contribute to the economic development and financial integration of Africa, sees educational development as a fulcrum for positive integration.”
Mrs Demola-Adeniyi called on school proprietors, administrators, parents, and guardians to encourage their students, children, and wards to participate actively in the essay competition, stressing that beyond the prizes, the competition is also part of the process to push the frontiers of academic excellence among the young ones in society.
She stated that Ecobank has a MyFirst Account which caters for children and young ones, noting that, “This is our savings account specifically designed for children and teenagers aged between 0-16 years old.”
“If you are a parent, the account allows you to save money in your child’s name, which they can redeem when they are older. It is the perfect way to save for their education or kickstart a fund for future projects. It gives your child the best start in life,” she added.
Stanbic IBTC Funds University Education of 100 Students
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A total of 100 students will receive funding support for their university education in Nigeria from Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, a member of Standard Bank Group.
Each of the undergraduates in 33 universities across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, will receive scholarships valued at N400,000, which would be disbursed in tranches of N100,000 across four academic years.
The beneficiaries were chosen through the scholarship scheme of the financial institution designed to provide financial aid needed to fulfil their educational needs and pursue their dreams.
The 100 Nigerian youths selected this year excelled in the University Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) organised by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
Asides from the first tranche of disbursement, subsequent disbursements would be subject to beneficiaries maintaining their enrolment in their respective universities and degree programs they were admitted into, adhering to the academic and administrative policies of the university, and the provision of a letter of good conduct issued by their respective departments.
Also, beneficiaries would be required to maintain a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of at least a second class upper range, amongst other requirements.
Commenting on the initiative, the chief executive officer of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Mr Demola Sogunle, stated that it was borne out of the need to empower hardworking and diligent young Nigerian undergraduates, who aspired to pursue their tertiary education in any state or federal university in Nigeria.
“We believe that everyone deserves a chance to access quality education and we believe in rewarding students who have shown remarkable academic excellence.
“This initiative will go a long way in easing the financial burdens of these undergraduates who participated in the UTME and gained admission into various Nigerian state and federal universities for the 2021-2022 academic session.
“We are pleased to announce the 100 winners of this year’s scholarship scheme for undergraduates in 33 universities across the 36 states and the FCT. We wish them great success in their academic journey.”
Mr Sogunle further added that education remains one of the keys to facilitating a nation’s prosperity, hence the introduction of the scholarship initiative.
Stanbic IBTC remains committed to driving value-added initiatives like the university scholarship programme to contribute to the educational development of the Nigerian youth.
The scheme, which commenced in 2019, now has had almost 200 recipients. The beneficiaries were chosen across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria through fair screening processes.
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