Lagos State, represented by Kehinde Lawal and Idowu Ayomikun has won the 2018 edition of the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC). This is the second time Lagos is winning the competition.
The first was in 2016. Lawal, nine-year-old from St Augustine Primary School and Ayomikun, 11-year-old from Dairy Farmer Primary School, Agege won the competition with 73 points at a well-attended grand finale event which held at the Civic Centre in Lagos, beating 10 other pupils from Nasarawa, Kano, Rivers, Ebonyi and Gombe states.
Presenting prizes to the winners, the Chief Executive Officer, Lafarge Africa, Michel Puchercos applauded the participants, acknowledging all the students who participated at every stage of the competition.
He said: “Apart from the cash prizes received, those who take part in this competition go away with skills indispensable for building a sustainable future.We recognize the importance of better literacy skills in helping individuals succeed in life.
The Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition builds capacity and contributes to developing this much needed skill in public primary school students across Nigeria.
”The competition was launched in 2014 as a flagship Corporate Social Responsibility intervention by Lafarge Africa and has since grown to become a national initiative impacting children and teachers across the country.
One of the special guests at the event, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka commended Lafarge Africa for taking up the initiative to urgently bridge the widening literacy gap.
Prof Soyinka, who presented the keynote address titled “Bridging the literacy gap together”, expressed delight that some states known for very high illiteracy levels were represented at the grand finale. “It shows that the battle against illiteracy is not lost, it can be won,” Soyinka said.
In his goodwill message at the final of the competition, the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah, said the federal government is making several efforts to improve literacy across board in the country. His words: “I implore all stakeholders in both public and private sector not to rest on our oars but to work hand in hand to preserve our society and future by improving literacy in our country, even as we bridge the gap together.’’
According to him, half of adult in Nigeria, 57 per cent are literate while youth rate is less than 70 per cent, noting that urban literacy surpass rural rate at a ratio of 69.4 per cent to 38.5 per cent.
Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc, Mr. Bolaji Balogun said less than 9 per cent of Nigeria’s budget is spent on education as the bulk is used for recurrent expenditure and payment of debt.
Balogun explained that until every corporate bodies join to salvage the education sector, Lafarge Africa Plc will not stop the national literacy competition.The UNESCO National Programme Officer-Education, Ngozi Amanze, said Nigeria ranked first with 10.5 to 13.2 million children are not in school against 260 million World wide.
Amanze disclosed that 750 million children and adults can-not read and write, two-third of which are women while six out of ten children and adolescents of 617 million do not acquire minimum skills in literacy and numeracy.
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She said in Nigeria, UNESCO is implementing several programmes and projects to advance literacy and sustainable development.
Her words: “I would like to reiterate that it is not gainsaying to state that to bridge literacy gap, we all have roles to play, and we sincerely want to commend Lafarge Africa Plc for their contributions’’.
The winners expressed gratitude to Lafarge Africa, Ovie Brume Foundation, Oando Foundation and others involved in making the literacy competition a success.
So far more than 500,000 primary school pupils in 886 schools across 544 local government areas have benefited from the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition. The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Education in charge of Basic Education across the country, has recognised Lafarge for its outstanding contribution to the development of literacy in the country’s public primary schools.