A non-governmental organisation, Women Information Network (WINET), has given scholarship and instructional materials to one hundred and forty-seven female students of Community Secondary School, Obeagu, Awkunanaw in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State.
WINET works primarily to promote women’s and girls’ rights, gender equality and to ensure that Nigerian women and girls have access to information that will enable them to make informed decisions.
The Executive Director of WINET, Mrs. Miriam Menkiti, explained that gesture, which was funded by Mundo Cooperante Spain, was part of efforts to boost girl-child education and forestall early girl-child marriage,” especially in a COVID-19 pandemic era.
The project is entitled “Education Support for 147 Female Students of Community Secondary School, (CSS) Obeagu, Awkunanaw, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria,” under the Right to be a Girl – Projects to end Girl Child marriage, funded by Mundo Cooperante of Spain.
Mrs. Menkiti observed that “COVID-19 pandemic came with economic disruptions in several families in Enugu State. Some parents lost their jobs while others had their incomes slashed leaving them incapable of meeting family and educational needs of their children.”
She expressed worry that “some girls dropped out of school thereby leaving them vulnerable to forced marriage.
“Against this backdrop, Women Information Network (WINET) saw the need to support girls retention in schools by paying their school fees, providing books and other materials to enable them to remain and excell in school,” the WINET boss stated.
Mrs. Menkiti gave a break down of the categories of female students who benefited from the scholarship and other academic financial assistance, which would last for one academic session, beginning from the third term.
“For this third term, the total amount we paid for 147 beneficiaries is five hundred and seventy -nine thousand, three hundred naira (=N=579,300), comprising school fees, BECE fees and PTA levy.
“For each of the 50 JS 3 students we paid seven thousand, nine hundred-naira(=N=7,900) comprising school fees of one thousand, nine hundred naira (=N=I,900) five hundred naira (=N=500) PTA levy and BECE fee of six thousand naira (6,000).
“For each of the 44 JS 2 and 53 of JS 1 students, we paid school fees of one thousand, four hundred naira (=N=1,400) and PTA levy of five hundred naira (=N=500) a total of one thousand, nine- hundred naira (=N=1,900).
“We will also pay for the first and second term fees,” Mrs. Menkiti specified.
In addition to the scholarship, each of the students got a school bag, a dozen 60 leaves exercise book, a dozen of 80 leaves exercise book, a mathematical set and five pens.
The Principal, Community Secondary School, Obeagu Awkunawnaw, Mrs. Kate Okonkwo and a representative of the Permanent Secretary, Enugu State Post Primary School Education Board (PPSBM), Mrs. Salome Aneke, commended WINET for the gesture, describing it as a soothing relief for the struggling parents.
“My dear students, God has favoured us, this is first of its kind and I am very glad it is happening in our school. They have paid to the school account all your school fees,” the Principal announced with joy.
For Mrs. Aneke, it was a moment of gratitude as she said “thank you for relieving the parents from the hypertension of training their children.”
Also, the representative of the State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Franca Nwokolo, applauded WINET and Mundo Cooperante Spain for the intervention and advised the beneficiaries to just the scholarship by taking their studies seriously.
“What you receive today, don’t toil with it, you don’t play with it. Make sure that you complete your education programme,” she admonished.
One of the students, miss Mercy Chukwuzimuzo, who spoke on behalf of other beneficiaries in an emotion laden voice, assured WINET and her partners as well as the education authorities that they would not let them down.
“There are many female students who don’t have this great opportunity that you rendered to us, I’m so grateful. I assure you that we are going to do better than what we do before and you will be proud of us,” the student vowed.
Meanwhile, parents of the beneficiaries signed an undertaking with WINET not to withdraw their children from school during the period of the scholarship while WINET would monitor the academic progress of the students.