In continuation of its commitment towards empowering, equipping and elevating communities in its areas of operation, GE, the world’s premier digital industrial company has collaborated with non-profit organization – United for Kids Foundation (UKF) to set up a Mobile Library that will be used to run a literacy development programme called ‘Read To Me’ for primary school pupils in Lagos State.
The Read-To-Me mobile library programme has commenced in four primary schools in the Akowonjo area of Alimosho Local Government, Lagos.
Presented in partnership with the United for Kids Foundation (UKF), the Mobile Library, according to GE, is the first of many to come and will teach pupils to read correctly and improve their literacy levels.
During the Mobile Library launch on Wednesday, June 19 at Akowonjo Primary School, Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer, GE Africa, Patricia Obozuwa explained that the idea for GE to sponsor the Mobile Library was borne out of the interactions and experiences GE has had from years of partnering with the United for Kids Foundation to run the Read-To-Me program in conventional libraries set up in other government primary schools across Lagos State. This initiative is ingenious because the library is mobile library, which means it can serve several schools simultaneously” she added.
Obozuwa explained that this project is one of many that GE has supported as part of its continent-wide Corporate Social Responsibility platform, GE Kujenga.
“GE Kujenga focuses on empowering people by building valuable skills, equipping communities with new tools and technology and elevating innovative ideas that are helping solve Africa’s challenges. Not many skills are as valuable for the child than the ability to read. This program fits naturally into the ‘empower’ bucket of GE Kujenga” she said.
Obozuwa further explained that the company, through its GE Volunteer Programme, gets employees together not only to pool funds to support worthy causes but also to spend time and effort volunteering on various projects that help bring about greater good in the society.
Speaking on the journey so far, Aameenah Yunus-Ali, Programs Manager for UKF said the foundation has been running the Read-To-Me literacy programme for kids in various schools for eight years. It decided to use primary schools in Alimosho Local Government Area as pioneers for the Mobile Library because of its large population of primary school children and because it is easily accessible.
“The program runs basically by us first assessing the kids to identify their literacy levels, and this is what the volunteers would be doing today. We identify kids who are easily passed over in their classrooms in primary four and primary five. What we do is, first we have a reading assessment that we do to know how well the kids can read. We then measure this assessment based on the standardized word count per minute, ” she explained.
“The program is run to ensure no child is left behind in the classroom. Our process is run such that we assess each child’s reading ability and thereafter work with each child based on their level. What we have seen is that, with the assessment and follow-up reading/mentoring sessions, the kids in the lower reading levels are motivated to work harder to meet up with their peers and become competent in their reading skills. And of course, once a child can read, excelling in every other subject becomes easy too.”
Also speaking, Remi Erinle, a member of the GE Volunteers Council said that the staff of the company are excited about volunteering on projects like this where they can help the kids develop their reading abilities.
“We’ve been working and supporting the United for Kids Foundation (UKF) for some years now, and UKF does amazing work going into schools to work with the kids and with the several children in need they support across Lagos. It is that partnership that exposed us to these schools and others like these where we can lend our support” she said. “We volunteer to come in periodically to help take the kids through the Read-To-Me programme curriculum. We have observed that this time spent with the kids is of great value to them because the fact that people other than their parents and teachers have an interest in them really excites and motivates the kids to put in their all. Over the course of the years, we have noticed great improvements in the literacy levels of several kids, which has transcended to improved confidence and better assimilation and performance in all their other subjects.
About 350 children are currently being covered with this initial launch of the Mobile Library in four schools, and this can expand to up to 1,800 children per annum.
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L-r: Programs Manager, United for Kids Foundation, Aameenah Yunus-Ali; Member, GE Volunteers Council, Remi Erinle; representative, Local Government Education Authority (LGEA), Alimosho School Support Service, Adenugba Abosede; Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer, GE Africa, Patricia Obozuwa, and Assistant Director of Education, African Church Primary School, Akowonjo, Grace Idahor at the launch of a Mobile Library donated by GE held at Akowonjo Primary School premises…recently.