The Nigerian education sector is in dire need of both structural and systemic reforms. The protracted, overtly, and excessive dependence of the sector on the government for funding has been a major drawback. As such, ensuring the qualitative education of our children has increasingly become the collective responsibility of everyone, parents/ guardians, government at different levels, non-government, religious, and private organisations alike. A reality that underscores the maxim, it takes a village to raise a child.
Undeniably, education is the best legacy to leave for our children. This is why the late Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
This quote by the late Nelson Mandela is one of the most famous sayings on the value of education. Other sayings that underline the importance of education are “Education is the bedrock of society and social development.” “It is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights.”
The transformed post-pandemic environment has necessitated the need for active private sector participation in raising the standards of living of communities within their operating market. In Nigeria, Corporate organisations are leading the charge by the private sector in uplifting the education sector, through their respective corporate social investment interventions.
In line with the Olam Group’s ideals, Crown Flour Mill Limited, one of the leading millers has demonstrated an unrivalled penchant for making investments in growth-driven projects that have the potential to enrich the lives of the people in its host communities.
Through its signature and flagship wheat value chain development vehicle christened “Seeds for the Future”, the business undertakes interventions under four major focus areas, namely, research and development, innovation, education, and economic empowerment, on a sustainable basis. Under the programme, in the research and development field, CFM launched a wheat seeds trial project in the last quarter of 2021, as part of its wheat value chain socio-economic intervention. While its overarching agenda is to assist Nigeria in its pursuit of achieving national food security, job creation, and empowerment of the teeming youthful population, it is equally committed to enriching the lives of farming communities and the vulnerable in society.
The business is contributing its quota to ongoing efforts aimed at tackling issues bedeviling the education sector to ensure the nation achieves faster, even development. As part of that role, CFM’s strategic implementation of the Seeds for the Future programme is being extended beyond the frontiers of agricultural research to provide succour in the form of infrastructure and much more to a local school in the wheat farming belt.
Speaking about the drive behind the Seeds for the Future programme, Ashish Pande, the Managing Director of CFM, said, “We are a top development actor and an economic growth enabler. Our bold intervention investments in key areas of the economy are targeted at driving impactful socio-economic growth to stimulate improved living conditions, wider productivity in our host communities and the nation at large.”
He added, “The Seeds for the Future programme is targeted at driving robust value chain activities that will improve the national food security position, generate employments and empower the citizens in key areas with great implications for their livelihoods. The programme, therefore, goes beyond our wheat seeds research work and testing for 'best bet' wheat seed varieties – It is a strategic value chain investment vehicle that is dedicated to enriching lives.”
Biyamusu Primary school in Ajingi Local Government Area of Kano was founded in 1976. Though it is the oldest in the community, it lacked the basic amenities befitting a 21st-century learning environment.
Previously, the classrooms' roofs and ceilings were completely dilapidated. The walls had succumbed to years of inattention and cracked at critical points and had become a clear and imminent hazard to the safety of the children in the school. There was no electricity infrastructure to help the administrations utilize valuable equipment that would aid their efficiency or help ventilate the classrooms to refresh the pupils who were partially exposed to the inclement Northern weather conditions. The toilet facilities were without roofs or doors; there was no provision for toiletries to make the environment safe for Nigeria’s future leaders.
Realising the implications of such a poor learning environment on the children, CFM invested in the renovation of the school. It renovated the classrooms, installed an electricity facility on the school premises, and upgraded the sanitary facilities. Learning aids such as boards, chairs and tables were donated to the school. Water facilities were also installed in the school to ensure the pupils gain access to safe, clean water all through their stay in class.
The intervention efforts in the local school have begun to yield useful results. Presently, the number of pupils in the school has jumped from 480 to over 600, following the reconstruction.
Also speaking about the remarkable change brought about by the CFM Seeds for the Future initiative, the Head Teacher of Biyamusu Primary school, Sagiru Musa Toranke said, “We are grateful to CFM for the impressive overhaul and turnaround in our school and the lives of our pupils. Our pupils’ parents are now assured that their children are no longer exposed to inclement weather conditions while in school. They would not also have to bother about unsafe sanitary and water facilities which the kids were previously exposed to.”
The learning facility upgrade in the local community provides a lever for the children in those communities to advance mentally in tandem with pupils in major cities around the country. These children will, of course, someday be grateful for the sound academic foundation being provided by the Seeds for the Future programme.
One of the community leaders in Ajingi LGA, Haruna Abdullahi remarked, “We desire that our children too rise to prominence in critical sectors of the economy. If we can provide them with sound education right from the elementary level, our dreams as a community can be achieved. CFM has come in at the right time to help provide what we desire for our children in terms of qualitative education.”
The Seeds for the Future initiative focus on innovative research to achieve food security, education support to enrich the mind of the population, and empowerment in the areas of farming, with a view to rightly position the country to eradicate poverty.
The initiative’s brilliant wheat seeds trial program introduced an innovative research methodology that has the potential to strategically raise the quantity and quality of wheat produced locally. It is engaging both local and global researchers and committing extensive capital investments to generate valuable results from the programme.
Also, as part of the flagship initiative, the business provided support for female smallholder wheat farmers. It distributed irrigation equipment to the women to help remove the barriers impeding large-scale wheat cultivation and harvest. The irrigation equipment, which comprised mainly a high-pressure water pumping machine, was presented to the female farmers in Giyamusu, Ajingi Local Government Area of Kano State, in 2021.
Through the seeds trial project, CFM is looking at reforming the local wheat production value chain. It is estimated that at least 10,000 smallholder wheat farmers, largely farmers in the various farming cooperative clusters, would benefit from the programme. Coming at a time when the unemployment rate in the country is high, CFM offers hope to the extensive households whose livelihoods are attached to the continuity of its robust intervention efforts in the wheat value chain.
The business is showing no signs of scaling back its growth-driven activities. The Seeds for the Future programme is about improving livelihoods and economic empowerment. As the business as rightly demonstrated in the strategic pivot to upgrading the education infrastructure in the local community in Kano State. It is very much interested and invested in alleviating the hardship and enabling improvement in the quality of life of indigent children in such a way that they can aspire for a brighter future despite their lowly beginnings.
CFM is spearheading a new order through a scaled investment that is targeted at repositioning Nigeria for economic prosperity in this new era. There is hardly a better way to future-proof the existence of a nation.