Nigeria alongside other United Nations (UN) member states marked the first-ever International Day of Education on January 24 in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. On 3 December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted with consensus a resolution proclaiming 24 January as International Day of Education. The adoption of the resolution co-authored by Nigeria and 58 other Member States, demonstrated the unwavering political will to support transformative actions for inclusive, equitable and quality education for all. This commendable feat is not only for the Government but also private sector players with a passion for education.
A top of mind example is Wale Tinubu, Group Chief Executive, Oando PLC, who in commemoration of the day recently donated 800 Nigerian Oil and Gas books to fifteen universities and two national libraries across Nigeria with the aim of educating students and the public on the country’s oil and gas sector which to date forms the mainstay of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
Speaking on the donation he said, “ I am personally vested in all things that pertain to education. Formal education is the first step to creating a brighter future. I believe, like Benjamin Franklin, that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest. The more knowledgeable an individual is the better; knowledge that goes beyond one’s comfort zone enlightens them and creates so much more opportunities. Thus I believe regardless of interest or calling it’s important that our youth understand the intricacies and rich history of the Nigerian oil and gas industry which accounts for a large part of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.”
The Nigerian oil and gas sector suffers from a skills shortage that is compounded by a small pool of homegrown talent, as a result of poor educational infrastructure and facilities. This challenge is not peculiar to Nigeria and can be felt across the region. In order to bridge this gap educational institution, corporates, and individuals are facilitating programmes such as knowledge transfer sessions and donation of key learning materials to support the development of actors in the sector.
Wale Tinubu’s passion for imparting knowledge through education is unparalleled and is most evident in Oando PLC’s CSR activities. In 2011, Oando launched its independent charity, Oando Foundation, to support the Nigerian Government to achieve its Universal Basic Education (UBE) goal. The Foundation’s vision is to create a sustainable and successful educational system in Nigeria that educates and empowers every child and its mission to improve learning environments in primary schools by holistically creating world-class basic education systems in communities.
To drive home his passion for education, Wale Tinubu said, “I strongly believe that the key to alleviating poverty in Nigeria is through education.” Since its inception Oando Foundation has adopted 88 schools across 23 states, awarded 1,123 scholarships to students, trained over 2,000 teachers and educated over 200,000 students across the country whilst facilitating in mentorship sessions in its adopted schools.
Like Tinubu, Oando employees are also passionate about education, going so far as demonstrating this passion through their words and actions. In 2018, Oando employees donated learning materials to three schools in Gbagada, Lagos, proving that when companies and employees are aligned great things can be achieved. More recently, Oando championed a two-day academia knowledge transfer session led by various members of the organisation, with Masters of Oil and Gas Law (LL.M) students from the Strathmore University Law School, Nairobi, Kenya.
In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Oando PLC led by a delegation of its female engineers mentored female pupils in one of the Oando Foundation adopted primary schools, Archbishop Taylor Primary School, Victoria Island, on the role and importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the world, why they are passionate about STEM and proud to have built successful careers in it. The aim of the mentorship session was to provide a platform for the female engineers to engage female pupils towards considering and embracing STEM subjects for a future career in STEM by sharing real life and relatable stories that would inspire the young girls.
To add a personal touch to his donation, Tinubu, inscribed a personal quote in each book. The quote reads; “To educate a mind is to guarantee a more prosperous future. To educate a generation is to lift a nation out of poverty. To educate oneself is the beginning of the journey.”
Initiatives of this nature call for more participation by institutions, corporates and individuals to enable the country actualise its education goals. The Nigerian Mission’s resolution to champion the cause for the International Day of Education alongside noteworthy deeds such as donations of vital learning materials to universities and schools is further proof that the country is on the right trajectory to end poverty, generate inclusive growth, and build sustainable and resilient societies through education.