Although Nigeria has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world yet those who are currently enrolled may not be so much better off due to the failing standards of education as seen in dilapidated infrastructure, quality of teachers and dearth of skilled manpower across many industries. No doubt, this is not a recent challenge as Education in Nigeria has struggled to find its balance almost a few decades after independence. Granted that there has been a reasonable growth in the number of schools, but then, there are still issues with the quality of education – the key elements that usually seem lacking across levels and regions of the country; especially where it concerns Early Childhood Institutions. The quality of education in any country is one of the major keys to its national development but unfortunately, the decline in the quality and standard of education in Nigeria is overtly alarming. Since 2000, there has also been enormous progress in achieving the target of universal primary education with a dramatic increase in literacy levels. Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent. This also seeks to ensure that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. Quality education is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
There is a consensus that one of the major challenges to attaining these global targets and goals is funding but educational experts argue that our national policies have also not posed a challenge to the development of the sector as much as funding has even though sustainable funding is an element of a sound policy thrust. Despite this huge shortfall, the best education models across the globe show diversified funding and investment options from other stakeholders apart from government. No impactful education system is solely funded by government without the active participation of other stakeholder groups. This is the philosophy that inspired the establishment of the Bunmi Adedayo Foundation (BAF) as it has since its inception, invested significantly in schools through various interventions. The eponymous foundation, in honour of Oluwabunmi Adedayo, the former Executive Director of Tastee Fried Chicken Limited; was conceived to bridge the gap between private schools and public schools and more importantly, to extend Adedayo’s dreams of improving the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This year, BAF commemorates the 5th memorial of Oluwabunmi Omotayo Adedayo (OOA) who can be credited with this all-important legacy. Since its set up in 2016, BAF has provided infrastructure and basic amenities to improve the learning environment for pupils as well as invested in the training of teachers for better lesson delivery. In addition, the foundation has spearheaded extracurricular activities and extra classes for better performance at examinations in 18 Schools across 9 LGAs across Lagos State.
The personality of OOA, a disciplined businessman, distinguished gentleman, cousin, uncle, husband and father was born on January 5, 1977 at Cook County Hospital in the city of Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A, to Adekunle Adedayo and Olayinka Pamela Adedayo (nee Ogunnusi); suggests why the foundation is focused on Education. Although an only child, yet OOA was nurtured in a Godly home where he grew under strict discipline and taught the importance of good family values, honesty, integrity and hard work. Whilst he returned to Nigeria to significantly grow the family business, he quietly and continuously supported many indigent young people by paying their fees to guarantee them chances to get educated.
Such philanthropic gestures may be described as prevalent in a society like ours, and it may even be said to be common practice for villages and families to contribute, or rather, invest in the educational pursuit of a bright young person. However, with such crowdfunding activities greatly limits opportunities for many qualified and interested in becoming educated members of the society. This points to a simple fact that funding is not the only challenge. Where funding exists, the system does not guarantee qualitative education upon enrollment. And contributions by organisations such as BAF must be supported with the enabling policies to ensure maximum return on investment.
Consequently, BAF is unrelenting in its mission and commitment to not only support the efforts of government at Federal and State levels but to provide a sustainable avenue for a holistic and transformational approach which seeks to improve the learning outcomes by meeting all the requirements for quality education for pupils. Accordingly, the collective efforts of well-meaning organisations like BAF will provide a platform for training education practitioners (teachers), while creating necessary public awareness in matters relating to education.
Nigeria’s APC–led government has enlisted education as one of its top priorities, with plans already underway to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates as teachers, and provide school feeding programs for primary schools across the country. During the 2017 Nigeria Annual Education Conference (NAEC), the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo noted the need to invest in capacity building for teachers. Furthermore, the 2016-2019 Ministerial Strategic Plan lists ‘teacher education involving capacity building and professional development’ as one of its core pillars. Through its Teachers Training Project, BAF aims to conclude ongoing 2018 trainings already completed for 300 beneficiaries and scale to reach 1,050 Teachers in 11 LGEAs in 2019. As a result of these interventions, the foundation continues to fulfill a vision to nurture and equip Nigerian Children with the required skills and competencies to become successful in a changing world while contributing to the global communities.
No doubt, the world is a global village and little interventions in even the most remote communities have the potential to transform lives and serve as a catalyst to scale impact as already recorded by BAF such as significant increases in pupil enrollment by over 65% across the beneficiary schools and also in the morale of teachers with corresponding knowledge uptake of pupils. No less than 4,000 pupils have increased ICT knowledge and access to quality education materials to aid improved literacy skills for collaborative learning.
In significantly contributing to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the foundation’s vision is to significantly improve the education sector by working through public primary schools. This year, BAF is launching a campaign aimed at restoring the Dignity of Public Primary Education in Nigeria whilst celebrating the 5th memorial of the founder. It also acknowledges the kind support of corporate organisations such as: Tastee Fried Chicken, Dangote Foundation, Neader International School and Zenith Bank Plc. Others include: Caracal, Toyota Nigeria, First Bank, Diamond Bank, Phillips Consulting, Olusola Lanre Coaching Academy as well as City of Knowledge and Queensland Academies, Kaiser Construction, Sign Writers and St. Saviours’ School.
The leadership demonstrated by these organisations in support of BAF is synonymous with a critical element fundamental to the growth of the sector. This is why the foundation is also conscious about grooming school managers, a human resource not often emphasized in the requirements for an effective education system. So far, 200 school managers have been groomed in leadership, management and innovation skills in over 150 public schools with over 1,500 teachers as beneficiaries.
As the foundation counts down to its 3rd year anniversary which holds every January, it in addition to a 40-seater computer laboratory to serve Yaba Model Nursery and Primary School, Nathan Nursery and Primary School together with other cluster schools within Surulere LGEA; there are plans to build two state-of-the-art ICT Laboratories that will benefit 10 public primary schools. A digital literacy training for classroom teachers and 3 libraries to improve the reading culture and learning amongst pupils, will be built.
The outcomes of similar investments, if continued would go a long way in supporting government efforts to deliver an education system that serves the needs and future prospects of a nation like ours. With more support from partners, organisations like BAF will secure more resources to reach more beneficiaries, especially indigent children as it seeks to do, in many more years to come.