Education is my friend!

A slum neighborhood in Makoko community located in Lagos, Nigeria, received a boost as the second phase of the Slum 2 School project began, bringing hope to the paths of several children.

The first phase of the project had seen 118 children from less privileged families get complete educational support and scholarship in three different schools. This number was surpassed by the second phase which saw 202 kids enrolled.

According to the project coordinator, 25 year old Otto Orondaam, the programme is designed with an innovative approach geared towards mobilizing the efforts of government, private sector and other development agencies towards securing educational opportunities for children in disadvantaged families and communities.

Orondaam, says he felt burdened when he saw supposed future leaders roaming about the slum and took a major leap into materializing his dream when he was posted in Lagos for his Youth Service Corp.

Oleesa, Frankie and Eva. Slum2School Volunteers.

He started the Slum 2 school project in Makoko community when he realized that the children there were more into fish mongering than getting educated.

Mudiaga ogboru, Slum 2 School volunteer says the aim of the project was to get vulnerable kids, within the age bracket of 3-15, who do not have parents, aunts or guardians into school. He explained that the selection process was very rigorous and that there were over 6 different stages of the project. ” In a summary we began by paying advocacy visits to the community heads, government and several stakeholders, organizing massive education based awareness campaigns, we trained community volunteers and had several registration points around the community, stating the day and time the children would gather to be profiled and the most vulnerable children verified, selected and sponsored into school. We also have a well planned enrollment ceremony which is followed by a well structured evaluation and monitoring process to ensure that the children are sustained in school.

Bethia and other Volunteers, Dressing up some children in their new school uniforms.

Parents and children of the community couldn’t withhold their joy as they trooped into the Anglican primary school, Makoko, where recepients were given school uniforms, bags, books and other educational materials.

Important dignitaries present at the event included representatives from UNICEF, The Lagos State Government, Incubator Africa, Education Reform Team and a host of others.

Speaking at the event, Chief Francis Agoyun, head of all Egun Balee, Yaba Local Council, says, gone were the days when a child had no option than to engage in his parents profession.

“Everybody must go to school and a committee has been set up for this purpose. He also expressed his sincere gratitude to Otto and all who were working with him on the project, stating that this was the first time such an initiative was taking place in the community.”

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Chief Clement Akeweje, chairman Alafia- Loju Co-operative Society of Makoko Yaba fire wood sellers, says, “This is the first time my children are going to school. I am overwhelmed because I can boast that my children are part of academic process. I would have loved to send my children to school but I don’t have money. I am a firewood seller and the money I make is not enough to cater for the family not to talk of sending the children to school.”

I see Hope. Thank you for bringing us Hope.

Keeping in mind that Nigeria has the highest number of ‘out of school children’ in the world, the recipients were urged to fully grasp the educational opportunity handed them knowing that such an opportunity isn’t easy to come by. Speaking with Otto Orondaam, he said that the project is not just an activity but a deliberate attempt towards the reformation of the education sector in Nigeria and he also sent out his appreciation to the large network of committed volunteers, stakeholders and everyone who had been part of the journey and who had taken the bold step to sponsor these children and send them out of the slum to school. Indeed what seemed like a bleak future for 202 orphans and vulnerable children now glows with hope.

Culled from http://www.youthng.com