Save the Children, through a donation by the BIC West and Central Africa Regional Office, distributed 100,000 lucky pens and learning materials to pupils and schools in Maiduguri, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria and Ogoja, Cross River State, South-south in support of safe school resumption for some of the most vulnerable children in Nigeria.
Primary education is supposedly free and compulsory in Nigeria but about 10.5 million school-age children are still out of school, the highest number in the world – due to lack of access, displacement, cultural norms, safety concerns, and unaffordability of scholastic materials, such as pens, pencils, school bags, among others.
Save the Children said the distribution of the school supply is expected to support school resumption, retention, and transition of students to their next classes.
Maryam Ahmad, Youth Ambassador, Save the Children International Nigeria, said, increased vulnerability to exploitation, violence, abuse, and neglect are some of the significant impacts that accompany children being out of school.
“This gift will motivate pupils towards pursuing their education and achieving their dreams,” Ahmad said. “Due to the visible needs on the ground, BIC’s donation and its cooperation with Save the Children are timely and exemplary for other private sectors to follow suit.”
Commending the BIC demonstration, Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria gave her thanks.
“Save the Children International is highly elated by this development partnership with BIC, especially that the Covid 19 learning measures outside class had marginalised the poorest children from coming back to class,” Gichuh said.
“I commend BIC, the world’s leading stationery brand, for the donation that demonstrates their commitment and support towards children’s rights to access safe, free and quality education in Nigeria.”
She noted that due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the poorest and marginalised children are most at risk of losing out on learning and not returning to the classroom.
According to her, such children face being forced into child marriage or child labour, “and they are at increased risk of having their education and development truncated.”
“We know from the previous crisis that the longer children are out of school, the greater the risk that they will never return and that they will lose out on vital learning,” Gichuh said.
She said Save the Children calls upon the national, subnational and local governments to increase education funding, creating targeted interventions to help the most marginalised groups of children, at the risks of dropping out of school. Some of which include,girls, children with disabilities, internally displaced children, and refugees.
Guillaume Groues, BIC Senior Sales Manager West & Central Africa and Deputy General Manager Lucky Stationery Nigeria Ltd said, “the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the education sector globally, and more so in Nigeria.”
“At BIC we believe that education has the power to transform the world and as a brand, we are committed to playing our part in helping improve the learning conditions of 250 million children around the world. We are proud to team-up with Save the Children to help reach students in need in hopes of sparking joy and imagination during these difficult times.”
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