The 2013/2014 Annual School Census (ASC) conducted by the Kaduna Ministry of Education, shows that student enrolment slightly increased in private Pre-Primary, Primary, JSS and SSS schools by 12.7%, 8.5%. 7.9%and 8.4% respectively and the public JSS, and SSS by 36.2% and 47.3% respectively, while slightly decreased in Pre-Primary and Primary by 2.8% and 2.4% respectively.
With desert encroachment forcing many families, including artisans to relocate to cities like Kaduna, schools in the city are now overpopulated, which makes learning difficult.
Obviously aware that the situation shouldn’t be left in the hands of government alone, a couple of corporate organisations are taking interventionist approach to bridge the gap by partnering with international agencies to get children back to school and improve the living conditions of families in the North. One of such organisation making impact in Kaduna is Access Bank Plc.
A decade ago, the bank, in partnership with Fifth Chukker and UNICEF, began a partnership, which has raised funds towards protecting children in communities in Kaduna. These are vulnerable children, who have become destitute as a result of disease and violence.
Through its yearly Charity Polo Tournament, the bank and it’s partners strengthens the capacity of community-based organisations, families and communities, who protect and provide care to these children, through a dedicated day of fundraising.
This year’s edition of the Access Bank UNICEF Charity Shield Polo tournament, which held recently at the Fifth Chukker Polo & Country Club, Kangimi Resort, Kaduna, will serve as a prelude to the main event tagged Access Day, which will take place at The Guards Polo Ground, Windsor, UK. The Tournament brings together national and international polo players, who come to play for a cause worth fighting for.
With each year, this event gains momentum, highlighting the struggle of these three organisations, as they try to build futures for the vulnerable children of Nigeria. This high profile event also increasingly acts as a platform for influential individuals to convene, discuss solutions and drive fundraising for this worthy cause.
Speaking on the initiative, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Plc., Herbert Wigwe informed that the bank is committed to enhancing communities through empowering individuals to forge their own paths.
“Our partnership reflects a commitment to enriching the lives of Nigerians and an acknowledgement of the impact the UNICEF Charity Shield initiative has had on the lives of the targeted children in Kaduna State and its environs. The drive to succeed and contribute to communities starts with safe, healthy and well-educated children. These are the children, who will grow up to take tomorrow and give back significantly to the older generations, who raised them, leading to better societies in the future,” he said.
Through the initiative, in 2006, care and support services were provided to 240 orphans and vulnerable children in six focus Local Councils and 12 focus communities of Kaduna State. Particularly, the benefit and impact of the interventions on the focus communities, has been impactful, as many children have been put in school and their quality of lives improved.
So far, the reach has been increased, as the partnership has helped UNICEF to support over 12,500 children with scholarships, construction of bore holes in communities, toilet facilities in schools and renovation of dilapidated class rooms, all resulting in increased enrolment of children at schools and significantly improved hygiene standards. It has also promoted public awareness on issues affecting orphans, and created space for community members to discuss issues that negatively affect children especially the Orphans and Vulnerable.
Having seen the positive impact the partnership has on the focus communities, Wigwe has pledged his bank’s continuous support to sustain the initiative with the aim of reaching out to more communities, who are yet to benefit from the project.
“UNICEF is committed to working with Access Bank and Fifth Chukker to promote children’s rights. Together, we will continue to make a difference for the under privileged children and families in Kaduna State, other parts of northern Nigeria and throughout Nigeria.”
He informed that the bank has maintained its yearly donation of N10m in support of UNICEF towards its projects for orphans and vulnerable children. For him, the Bank is continually seeking avenues through which more resources can be pooled towards supporting the children
“We have been working in Kaduna, in collaboration with Fifth Chukker Polo & Country Resort and UNICEF to elevate quality of lives. We need to do a lot more in support of these orphans and vulnerable children to enable them look forward to a better tomorrow,” he said.
UNICEF Country Representative, Manuel Rossini, who was part of the high profile crowd that witnessed the opening ceremony for the event this year, thanked Access Bank and other partners for being there for Nigerian children over the years.
“We are hoping to get more children needing support especially the girl child into schools,” says Rossini, who made a passionate appeal to other corporate and individual bodies to lend a hand by donating to the charity effort.
“We have no doubt created the space for a lot of them to enjoy their rights to education through this partnership, but we aim to seek more community participation to achieve greater results,” he said.