From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Pupils at Nnebuzo Primary School, Umubele village, Awka, Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, jumped out of their classes in excitement when they were told that the ‘strangers’ whom they had seen at through the windows had visited them with some goody bags.
They emptied into the thoroughfare in front of their school building, where their teachers instructed them to form straight lines. The structure, a two-storey building housing the entire pupils, had no compound.
So, the unpaved road in front served general purposes – assembly ground, playground, passageway for automobiles and pedestrians. The pupils often had to clear from the dusty road to enable vehicles pass through.
And that was what happened the very day members of the Chibueze Ezenagu Foundation (CEF) and Awka N’Aso Enwe Foundation visited the school to distribute schoolbags, books and some writing materials to the schoolchildren.
Regardless of the risks, the pupils stood excitedly in the scorching sun, enduring the heat and patiently following every protocol leading to the distribution of the items.
The outing, Daily Sun gathered, was a back-to-school project for the year 2021 organised through collaborative efforts of the two foundations.
Founder of Chibueze Ezenagu Foundation, Chibueze Ezenagu, a United States-based businessman, said that the idea behind the project was to encourage the pupils, not only to go to school, but to also take their studies more seriously.
Ezenagu, who had earlier this year distributed about 700 bags of rice to women in Umuogbu village, Awka, to cushion the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, said he was pleased giving back to the society where he hailed from.
“Me, being a son of the soil, I am also a member of Awka N’Aso Enwe Foundation. I think it’s a very good thing that we are trying to do within our community to make sure that we encourage these kids to go to school,” Ezenagu said.
Coordinator of Awka N’Aso Enwe Foundation, Christian Ofodile, told Daily Sun that the exercise would last three days as the team would tour the 12 public primary schools in the town, distributing the about 3,000 schoolbags, books and others to the beneficiaries.
The schools are Agulu Awka Primary School, Practicing School, Nnebuzo Primary School, Ikwodiaku Primary School, Ayom N’Okpala Primary School, and Nkwelle Primary School.
Others are: Udeozo Primary School, Udoka Primary School, Ezioka Primary School, Igwebueze Primary School, Unity Primary School, Umuokpu and Community Primary School, Umuokpu.
Ofodile said the move was to support and encourage parents to send their children to public schools and also to support the SDGs on education.
“This is our way of supporting the SDG goal on education which maintains that a child should be bequeathed with basic education and every other thing will follow. That’s the universal basic education.
“We are here today to continue what we started in 2019 and also to talk to them; a kind of orientation exercise.
“We are giving out schoolbags donated by Chibueze Ezenagu Foundation, exercise books raised by Awka N’Aso Enwe Foundation. The criteria are that the pupils must be Awka indigenes and they must be in public schools.
“We are also using this medium to promote going to public school because we have seen a trend where virtually every family would want to have their children in private schools.
“As we are taking off from this school, Nnebuzo Primary School, Umubele Awka, we are reaching out to five other schools today. Tomorrow we’ll go to another set of schools, about three or four and the next day we will go to the last four,” he said.
But not all the pupils would benefit from the project. The organisers said that it was for pupils who hailed from Awka town. And while they shared the bags and books at Nnebuzo Primary School, a greater number of the pupils stood by the side and watched.
Some others looked down from upstairs and their countenances showed that they wished they were also given the items as others. It was a similar occurrence in the other 11 schools visited by the team.
Asked if the foundations did not consider it discriminatory to give only to pupils of Awka origin and also the psychological effect it could have on the other pupils, Ofodile said: “We don’t have intentions to discriminate against anyone. Awka N’Aso Enwe Foundation, as the name goes, is an incorporated community based organization with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Part of what we are doing is to promote education amongst our people.
“And for lack of resources, we’ll not be able to provide what will go round to all the pupils in each school. And that is why we have chosen to focus on our pupils.”