The Feed and Read Program for Girls, a literacy scheme of the American University of Nigeria for disadvantaged young girls in the Yola-Jimeta community, recently received a boost from Vicki Marsha Uniforms, a California-based school uniforms company.
The University said in a statement today that it took delivery of the school uniforms, worth $48,000 in wholesale value, at the Yola campus. The clothing had been freighted free of charge by FedEx international couriers. FedEx’s in-kind donation is valued at $11,000.
“We appreciate being included in this incredible effort to help fellow humans and to make our world a better place for those so in need,” said Mrs. Diane Cologne, whose husband, Tim, co-owns the Huntington Beach-based clothier.
The donated items include new high-quality trousers, short pants, skirts, sweaters, shirts and dresses. The uniforms will be available for use in other AUN programs.
AUN President Margee Ensign said of the donation: “This generous gift from the other side of the world will make such a huge difference to the children we are seeking to educate here in Nigeria. All of us, and particularly the girls and their families, are enormously grateful to the Colognes.”
The new literacy program was launched on February 11 with a financial donation by the Irish government. It targets at-risk, out-of-school girls and orphans ages of 6 to 17. Some of the beneficiaries were orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
AUN’s Feed and Read program, which kicked off with 70 girls, has seen the number already double. The program’s Coordinator, Executive Director of AUN Schools Mrs. Nkem Uzowulu, reported that the number increases daily as parents are encouraged by their children’s improved performance and tell their neighbours about it.
The literacy program provides basic literacy and numeracy skills to the girls, with a feeding component that provides one meal per day cooked by local vendors. Besides education, the program has a local economic impact as it is a source of livelihood for community women serving as volunteers or facilitators in the program, as well as for the food vendors.
At the launch of this new program, AUN President Dr. Ensign stressed the need for Nigeria to educate girls, noting that when girls are educated, everything in the country changes, from infant mortality to decline in infectious diseases and family size.
AUN also has a literacy program that targets Almajiri boys. Both programs follow the same fundamental pedagogy and include a free meal for participants. The new uniforms are also available for the boys. AUN also runs a USAID-sponsored literacy and numeracy program Technology Enhanced Learning for All (TELA) which is exposes 22,000 vulnerable boys and girls in the local community using radio and tablets.