Ifeanyi Okechi, Enugu
One hundred and 20 indigent students drawn from six secondary schools in Enugu State will benefit from the “Beat the Distance” programme of the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Plc, which flagged off in the state recently.
The bank said it does not want distances from schools to form reasons why students drop out of school, hence the donation.
It also stated that trekking long distances to schools make students tired, not attentive to studies and lose interest in leaning.
Managing Director of the bank, Segun Agbaje who presented 20 bicycles at one of the benefitting schools; Government College, Agbani in Nkanu West Council, said the decision to alleviate students’ suffering was reached after a study revealed that trekking long distances to school make students pay less attention in their classes.
Represented by the Group Head, Commercial Banking South East, Enugu, Mr. Chukwudi Deribe, he said: “Every day in rural Nigeria, millions of children walk for hours just to get to school and back. This challenge coupled with the responsibility of doing chores in the morning, especially for the girls, makes it difficult for them to get to school in good time. The long journey travelled on steep terrain for most, also leaves children tired, slacking in performance and eventually, and dropping out of school.
“For a child, the gift of mobility is more than what meets the surface. It’s a chance to not only beat distance but poverty”.
Explaining that poverty was the greatest barrier against education, he said that the bank thought it wise to build a world where education was accessible and distance no longer stands as a barrier to attaining it.
He continued; “We started the GTBank cares to bridge the gap between children and their education. Currently in its pilot stage, the initiative will cover the distance from Enugu to Taraba, whilst directly transforming thousands of lives. Through this gift of mobility, more children will not only cover the distance in their education but stand a better chance at beating the cycle of poverty”.
Ezeribe advised parents not to use the bicycles for domestic jobs, insisting that they were specifically for school purposes, and warned that the bank would not hesitate to retrieve any of it found to be used for other purposes.
“So, this is an encouragement and we are giving them strictly to students with interest in education,” he emphasised.
Also speaking, the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, stated that the gesture would delete the state from the roll of out of school rate. He stated that the challenge education faced in the state at the moment was the increasing rate of out of school persons.
Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Nwanneka Onah, expressed deep appreciation to the bank for the gesture and urged the benefitting students to use it to improve their education.
She said that the state government realised the importance of the mobility and ensured the bicycles were evenly distributed in the state.
“It’s quite thoughtful of GTbank; it’s a very serious innovation and creative of the bank. This will help eliminate out of school enrolment because distances are usually a barrier for some students and we are very appreciative of the gesture,” Onah said.
Both the management of the school and parents who gathered at the occasion had urged the bank to open its branch at Agbani like several others in the country, promising their continued patronage for the gesture.
They stated that the bank remained the one of the most education friendly banks in Nigeria, stressing that the mobility for the indigent students would reduce the cost of education on the affected families.
The highly elated principal of the school, Uzoamaka Ani disclosed that one of the beneficiaries, Sopuruchukwu Arum, whom according to her, “has done really good to himself and the school through his creativity” has nobody to sponsor his career and education. She, therefore, appealed to anybody who could assist to come to the boy’s aid.