The Ovie Brume Foundation in partnership with Lafarge Africa Plc organises an annual literacy competition (Lafarge Africa Literacy Competition) that aims to enhance language and vocabulary skills (Reading, Writing, Pronunciation and Spelling) of public primary school students as well as increase their educational opportunities. With a mission to create an enabling environment where young people can reach their goals, the education and youth-focused Foundation has worked with Lafarge to organise and implement this annual competition since 2014. This year, the programme directly involved over 25,000 students compared to just 7000 in 2016.
The partnership with Lafarge was originally conceived as a mobile literacy corporate social responsibility initiative called “Books on Wheels,” where over 500 reading sessions were organised for public schools and more than 10,000 books were distributed across Nigeria. The annual literacy competition was later introduced to provide a platform where students could demonstrate the improvement of their reading, writing, pronunciation, and spelling skills. Considering that 40% of Nigeria’s school aged children between 6 and 11 years old do not attend primary school, programmes like these help to inspire a culture of learning and also help raise a generation of literate youth who will potentially add value to their communities.
Bridging the Literacy Gap was the tagline for this year’s competition which took place in three phases starting in June earlier this year: state, regional, and national (grand finale). State competitions took place at the local government and senatorial district levels and regional competitions were held across six geo-political zones in Abuja, Kano, Abeokuta, Calabar, Gombe and Enugu. From thousands of competitors at the local government and state levels, it was narrowed down to just twelve competing at the nationals which took place on November 16, 2017. The planning, screening, and selection process was supported by the Foundation and Lafarge but also by the State Universal Basic Education Board https://ubeconline.com/ (SUBEB) and their representatives from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The final competition which featured a rigorous literacy assessment, summary writing and a spelling bee was conducted by an expert team from the Ovie Brume Foundation. Two students from primary schools based in Edo State emerged as the winners of the competition: Yusuf Hassan from Eson Ne Rie Model Primary School in Benin City and Faith Toun-Agbai from Eguare Primary School in Irrua, who were both awarded with N250, 000 each. Financial prizes were also given to participants who placed 2nd, 3rd, and even up to 6th place.
According to the Executive Director of the Ovie Brume Foundation, Adeola Awogbemi, “Nigeria’s literacy rate is just slightly over 5o% and reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible, from complex word problems and the meaning of our history, to scientific discoveries and technological proficiency. These hard working students represent a new generation of readers and leaders.” Since 2014, the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition has engaged over 300,000 students in literacy development initiatives across Nigeria and both partner organisations remain committed to improving literacy rates in Africa’s most populous nation.
Please visit the Ovie Brume Foundation website for more details and follow their work on their social media platforms.
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