By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

Save the Children, through the generous donation of BIC West and Central Africa Regional Office, distributed 100,000 Lucky pens and learning materials to pupils and schools in Maiduguri, Borno State and Ogoja, Cross River State, in support of safe school resumption for some of the most vulnerable children in Nigeria.

Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory in Nigeria, about 10.5 million school-age children are still out of school, the highest number in the world – due to lack of access, displacement, cultural norms, safety concerns and unaffordability of scholastic materials, such as pens, pencils, and school bags, among others.

Therefore, the distribution of the school supply is expected to support school resumption, retention, and transition of students to their next grades.

Maryam Ahmad, Youth Ambassador, Save the Children International Nigeria, said “Being out of school has a significant impact on the protection and wellbeing of children, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation, violence, abuse and neglect. This includes the risk of early child marriage, harmful work, recruitment and use by armed groups, violence in the home and psychological distress “

Meanwhile, owing to the visible needs on the ground, BIC’s donation and its cooperation with Save the Children, is timely and exemplary for other private sectors to follow suit. “I would like to say a big thank you to BIC – this gift will motivate pupils towards pursuing their education and achieving their dreams.”

Ms. Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria said, “I commend BIC, the world’s leading stationary brand, for the donation that demonstrates their commitment and support towards children’s rights to access safe, free and quality education in Nigeria.

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the poorest and marginalized children are most at risk of losing out on learning and not returning to the classroom.

“ Instead, they face being forced into child marriage or child labor, and they are at increased risk of having their education and development truncated. We know from previous crisis that the longer children are out of school, the greater the risk that they will never return and that they will lose out on vital learning.

“Therefore, Save the Children is proud to partner with BIC, and we jointly urge other conglomerates and private sector actors to channel their corporate-social responsibilities towards improving the safety, quality, and access to education for every last child in Nigeria.”

Guillaume Groues, BIC Senior Sales Manager West & Central Africa and Deputy General Manager Lucky Stationary Nigeria Ltd said, “the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the education sector globally, and more so in Nigeria. At BIC we believe that education has the power to transform the world and as a brand we are committed to play our part in helping improve the learning conditions of 250 million children around the world. We are proud to team-up with Save the Children to help reach students in need in hopes of sparking joy and imagination during these difficult times.”

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