The Federal Government and some stakeholders have made a commitment to promote literacy among Nigerian children through encouraging the culture of reading. The commitment was stated in Abuja at the launch of Book Swap Foundation, which is an initiative aimed at inspiring creativity in reading and making available literatures on which to build the future of Nigeria.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who was represented by an assistant director of education in the Federal Ministry of Education, said the Ministry will continue to support the Book Swap initiative from the beginning and also as it progresses as it’s key for national development.
He also said that the initiative was very important to the attainment of educational goals of the country and international development partners, hence the Ministry was tasked to see that the programme see the light of the day.
“Book Swap, we have been talking about the SDGs Goal 4. We distribute books at the basic and secondary levels. I want to tell you that not only on our tables in Nigeria that we can swap books, we can swap books with foreign countries who are ready to learn our various languages,” the Minister said.
For his part, the executive secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Hamid Bobboyi, said the commission will partner with the Foundation to enure that other stakeholders in the States have access to books.
Also speaking, the representative of Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, (OSSAP-SDGs), Echekwu Israel, said the agency was in support of the initiative because it is line with the realisation of Goal 4 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which have since metamorphosed to SDGs.
According to him, “If you have achieved goal 4 in Nigeria, you’ve achieved all. It is the beginning and the end of all the goals. Goal 4 means inclusive and quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, represented by the director of Academics in State Ministry of Education, Salome Kennedy, said the state government was going to form a collaboration with the Foundation to see that its children make good use of the books and further the education level of the State.
She said: “It is only people with a large heart can think about the future of a nation. These books that you have produced today, you may not see the importance of it now but in a generations to come, this will help to reduce some of the social vices that we have in the society.”
In his remarks, founder of Book Swap, Olatunde Lawal-Solarin, said the Foundation was birthed from the demise of his father who passed on last year and was chairman of Lantern Books for over 50 years, during which he collected so much creative works from Nigerian authors and the creative industry.
“We now need to take more responsibility of our world into our own hands and make sure that we train our children with the same ideology.
We are appealing to all institutions for partnership in this ambitious project. We’re hoping that people understand our drive. We’re all in this together and we need to start thinking from the heart and doing what is right,” Lawal-Solarin said.
Earlier, the executive director, Book Swap Foundation, Sarah Wahab, said the initiative would broaden children’s minds to what is going on in the world around them, adding that books that the organisation provide will be able to boost their exposure in a safe way.
Lead consultant of the initiative and President of the International Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (IN-CSR), Mr Eustace Onuegbu, in his presentation focused on the fact that education is in the centre of all SDGs, hence all other 16 SDGs can only be effectively achieved through effective implementation of SDG 4.
He noted that child literacy, being a foundational pillar to enhance lifelong quality learning, should, therefore, be a priority CSR initiative for corporates and all other organisations including international developmental and funding agencies.
He also accessed the initiative based on the three pillars of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which are Environment, Social and Economy.
He emphasised that the reduction of the number of printed books through the initiative was in line with the emerging circular economy principles, and will reduce the adverse impact on the environment, saying it will further impact positively on the economy in different ways especially as parents and guardians will spend less to buy the much needed books for their children.