Move coming after several years of driving campaign in Nigeria, West Africa
By Ada Anioji
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm, the UBA Foundation, has pushed further its reading culture campaign and quest to educate and empower African youths through a visit to the Our Lady of Mercy Girls Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya.
In the course of the visit, officials of the bank donated over 500 copies of the book, The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma to the school.
Significantly, the donation was carried out under the auspices of the UBA Foundation’s Read Africa Initiative, a trail-blazing initiative which was launched in 2011 with the aim of encouraging students to improve their vocabulary and communication skills through reading, and which has been changing the lives of African students across the continent for six years.
Reading sector watchers say that through the initiative, the UBA Foundation is helping rekindle the dwindling reading culture amongst African youths as they pursue their education. Cumulatively, over a hundred thousand books and educational materials have been donated to various schools across Africa as UBA Foundation continues to traverse the continent, contributing positively to the development of African youths.
Underscoring the fact that the focus was indeed sub-regional, officials of the foundation had visited Emma High School in Kampala, Uganda with the same Read Africa initiative before going to Kenya to read to the students at Our Lady of Mercy School.
An High school for girls which was founded in 2008 by Mrs Angwenyi with just 32 girls, Our Lady of Mercy School has since grown to encompass a student body of over 500 with donations from both private individuals and the Kenyan Ministry of Education. The school started off with girls who were very under priviledged and living in conditions that were not conducive to education. Less than a decade later, some of these students have gone on to Universities to pursue their dreams.
Present at the drive were the CEO of the UBA Foundation, Bola Atta, UBA Kenya MD/CEO Isaac Mwige, the school principle Mrs Angwenyi and the students who got an opportunity to interact and read with the UBA Executives, sharing their future aspirations and ambitions as they engaged the executives of the pan-African bank.
Atta, told the students that the UBA Foundation was committed to uplifting the lives of the societies within which they operated by creating dynamic educational platforms for future generations on the continent. She also encouraged the students to read voraciously. “The pursuit of knowledge should be a lifelong activity that starts at a very young age. You should read all types of books so that you can explore and shape your own narrative,” she said.
Making his remarks at the event, UBA-Kenya Managing Director/CEO, Isaac Mwige further encouraged the students to cultivate an interest in reading not just the academic text books but also material outside of their course work in order to acquire knowledge. “Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face,” he added.
Responding, the Principal of Our Lady of Mercy Girls Secondary School, Mrs. Angwenyi thanked the UBA Foundation for their contribution and said that it was very timely as the school is currently placing emphasis on the value of reading not just to prepare for exams but reading to prepare for life. ‘What UBA Foundation has brought to you today is worth more than money. The drive today will ensure that you all understand that reading is an essential part of living’ she said.
The Kenyan Ministry of Education’s Chief Education Officer who was also present applauded the initiative saying: ’books allow us to expand our minds and enables us to keep abreast in all fields of human endeavor. The Students of Our Lady of our Mercy will benefit greatly from reading the books donated by UBA Foundation today’
The UBA Foundation donated books to the school library of Our Lady of Mercy and also made a monetary contribution to pay for the accommodation of ten girls in the school’s dormitories.
It will be recalled that the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Africa’s global bank, had in 2006, became the first Nigeria-originating bank to institute a foundation, the UBA Foundation. As the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the UBA Group, UBA Foundation is committed to the socio-economic betterment of communities across the African continent focusing on development in the areas of Environment, Education, Economic Empowerment and Special Projects.
UBA MD/CEO, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka