By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
Succor came to the pupils and staff of First Baptist Primary School in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital as Coca-Cola Nigeria, through its Foundation donated a block of five classrooms, ten units of sanitation facilities, playground and a library complex to the school.
Before the intervention of the company, infrastructure in the 109-year-old had totally collapsed and learning was almost impossible for the pupils.
But Coca-Cola Nigeria, in partnership with the Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) at the weekend came to the rescue of the school.
Speaking at the inauguration of the project, the Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria, Mr. Bhupendra Suri said the project is part of the Coca-Cola Foundation/UNDP New World Program which is aimed at upgrading critical infrastructural in the school.
Suri who spoke through the Company’s Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Amaka Onyemelukwe reiterated the company’s commitment towards improving the standard of living of the people, saying, “Each decision our company makes is a chance for us to do the right thing. We are relentlessly self-aware of our role in the world and the impact we can have. That is why we are investing to help care for the people and communities we deepen on to succeed.
According to him, “The Coca-Cola Foundation since its inception in 1984, has given back nearly $1 billion to help strengthen local communities worldwide. Originally focused on learning inside and outside the classroom, today the Foundation supports our global water leadership programs, community recycling, and women’s economic empowerment programmes. It’s our belief that this project will impact positively in shaping the lives of these future leaders of our country.”
The State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Aikulola Olu Ola, expressed the deep appreciation of the State government and the people of the State, explaining that the project would go a long way in improving the quality of education offered to the pupils of the school while also impacting the community positively.
Delivering the Project’s overview, the Project Manager who is also the Public Policy Analyst, Coca-Cola West Africa Business Unit, Mr. Emeka Mba explained that the Project was part of the 4th Generation Program by The Coca-Cola Foundation and Global Water challenge implemented by Youth empowerment Foundation to support the SDGs on Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Education.
He disclosed that the project began with detailed Needs assessment conducted in consultation with Ogun SUBEB.
Mba added that the scope of this project includes a new block of 5 classrooms equipped with furniture; a block of 20 units of functional gender segregated Sanitation facilities for pupils and teachers; newly constructed and manicured playground to support the psycho-social development of the pupils; a new block of Library equipped with audio-visual facilities to enhance learning and development; Rehabilitated old blocks of 3classrooms; reticulated water facility to provide access to portable water to the estimated 3000 residents in the neighbourhood.
His words, “Our initial objectives were to address the issue of poor water supply in the school but we later found out that a lot of things have to be done. When I entered the school, I burst into tears as I saw pupils sitting on the floors of their classrooms because there were no benches to sit on and some were learning on the school corridors. That was how we decided to donate new block of classrooms.”
“Today, teachers are motivated; school enrollment has since increased from 440 to 578 due to this scale of intervention. Electricity, which hitherto was a luxury to the school since it was founded in 1910 has now been installed through the converted advocacy of the Project team. The next phase of the support for curriculum development designed to enhance competitiveness of the pupils. A 6month literacy component of the programme would be deployed to the benefit of the schools in the LGEA to improve basic reading and writing skills, Hygiene, Responsible waste disposal and management’’ he added.
In his own remarks, the Chairman of SUBEB, Abdul Jeleel Olatunde Okewole described the hand-over ceremony as a testimony of the benefits of Public Private Partnership (PPP) in bridging infrastructure gap in communities.
He also applauded the School Base Management Committee (SBMC) of the school under the Chairmanship of Alhaji Juwon Labode, the teachers and staff of the school for their unrelenting and unflinching effort towards the actualization of the project.