Bassey Inyang writes that in accordance with its corporate social responsibility, Lafarge Africa is making serious contributions to the education sector in Cross River
The importance of education to the overall development of the human person and society cannot be overemphasised. For example, the late Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In a similar breath, former US President Barack Obama said, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a prerequisite.”
Mandela’s and Obama’s statements underscored the holistic essence of education.
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo knew that education was invaluable in total development. He introduced free education in the then-Old Western Region between 1954 and 1962 during his time as the premier, with enduring benefits. Successive local, state and federal governments have striven to copy that template. However, amidst competing budgetary demands, these efforts by governments are grossly inadequate.
Over the years, the federal and state governments have demonstrated their incapability, whether deliberately or otherwise, to adequately finance their respective education sectors by not setting aside at least 20 per cent of their annual budget for the sector as recommended by United Nations Education Cultural and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO).
Therefore, governments at all levels have solicited the support of the private sector in funding education. Long before the appeal, Lafarge Africa had ventured to contribute, even more than its quota, to the development of education in various parts of the country where it has stakes.
The company’s massive contribution to the education sector abounds in its host communities in Cross River State, where the cement manufacturer has its factory in Mfamosing, Akamkpa council area.
Recently, the company’s production manager at the Mfamosing Plant, Mrs Idara Uyok, disclosed that as part of its CSR, it had provided educational support to 130 scholars in secondary and tertiary institutions in the state.
GEDE Foundation is the education consultant to Lafarge Africa on implementing the company’s educational support programmes in its host communities in Cross River.
A representative of the foundation, Mr John Bassey, told THISDAY about some aspects of the educational support programme.
“I work with GEDE Foundation as a volunteer. We facilitate the educational sector of Lafarge in terms of CSR in the communities. We handle the payment of fees for students in the schools in our host communities, and we also provide them with study materials like textbooks and exercise books,” said Bassey. “I think Lafarge is doing very, very well. They have been able to train a lot of students. Like in the last WAEC, we have our scholarship student as one of the best with 5 As.”
Bassey said GEDE ensures that the students maintain a high standard of performance in their academics by doing regular checks and follow-ups on the general performances in their various schools.
Lafarge Africa scholarship scheme, otherwise tagged ‘Educational Support’, provides N100,000 with every session to each benefiting student across its 17 host communities, mostly in the Southern senatorial district of the state.