Promoting reading culture through e-library
A non-governmental organisation, City Profs Educational Foundation, led by its chairman, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, recently,visited the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja to deliberate on how e-learning partnership initiative could promote reading culture, thereby advancing the nation’s educational system.
Armed with the belief that education is the bedrock of a nation, people of like minds in both academic and private sectors came together in what they tagged “Vote for a reading culture” through establishment of community libraries, with the aim of catching the pupils young. Legacy and vote for the reading culture through community library initiatives has been at the front burner of City Profs Educational Foundation since it was launched nine years ago. Initiated by Oluwole Oshiyoye, Bright Echendu, Collins Akpore and Babalola Olujimi, the goal at the inception was to build an e-library across the six geo-political zones of the country.
Today, the CPA-CLI prototype-model e-library which started in Somolu, Bariga Lagos has spread to other areas such as Ijebu-Imushin, Kosofe, Surulere, and the latest in Ikorodu. It has also spread its tentacles beyond Lagos to Ago-Iwoye in Ogun State and Ilara-Mokin in Ondo State.
The whole project had come under the supervision and guidance of CPA-CLI ably led by stalwarts such as Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, Dr. Ernest Shonekan, Mrs. Remi Agbowu, Mrs. Essie Kukoyi and other committed staff members of the foundation.
Recently, the foundation paid a courtesy visit to the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the Aso Rock presidential Villa in Abuja. Among the delegates were Prof. Alele-Williams, Mrs. Oluwagbemiga Benson, Mrs. Agbowu, Mrs. Susan Omojokun, and Otunba Olayinka Lawal Somorin.
Though invited by the number two man who has been its member since 2006, the foundation believes that the advancement of the nation’s education system through e-learning partnership initiative will bring solution and e-learning will be enhanced in the country.
In her paper titled “Towards the advancement of our nation’s education system through e-learning partnership initiative,” Prof. Alele-Williams said the idea of what is beginning to turn library to paperless across Nigerian communities was initiated by young men like Oluwole Oshiyoye, Bright Echendu, Collins Akpore and Babalola Olujimi who desire to help children from under-privileged homes in a few schools to learn how to read and write good English.
Such a project, she said if steadily pursued, would influence several other children over a period especially Primary 3 to 6 would learn to enjoy reading and improve their ability to communicate in English. The idea conceived then, according to her, is gradually paying off as many children especially the under-privileged have embraced the initiative.
Speaking further, Alele-Williams said in fulfilling the set goals, the logistics for about 100 children from about five schools in the Akoka area was worked out. “The idea seemed to be straightforward to carry out as the young men involved had been authorised by Mrs. Oluwagbemiga Benson, the then Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to use a school. This discussion and change took place after the death of its founding patron and former Commissioner for Works, Lagos State (Engr. Funsho Williams). Williams had encouraged us to carry out some educational programmes in the school in Akoka, Lagos, before his demise.”
The plan therefore was simple: to select a few children to learn, speak, read and write good English for two to three hours after every school day, and these were selected between Primary three and Primary six. This plan also provided some supervision for the children after school. The remuneration of the teachers was a small stipend for their selfless service.
Since its inception, the foundation has enjoyed massive support from prominent Nigerians such as Otunba and Olori Olayinka Lawal (Publishers and Architect), His Excellency, Chief Dr. E.O. Shonekan CBE; His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie; Dame Obafunmilayo Johnson; Her Excellency, Abimbola Fashola, and His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, assisted the project which by now was registered when the Akoka Library was known as Lantern while the Lagos State Government helped with each request through SUBEB.
Enumerating the foundation’s achievements and how it has kept to its promise of the Library initiative over the years, Alele-Williams gave kudos to Mrs. Remi Agbowu and Mr. Kole Funsho of Remick Promotion and Naston for their donation of a large Library to CPEF.
“The Nofisat Yeside Funsho Library built in Bariga, Lagos was named after late Mr. Kole Funsho’s daughter, Yeside. This new magnificent library is the property of the community. The Library is well used by six large schools surrounding it.”
Following the success recorded, Dr. Michael Omolayole offered to have such a library in his hometown, Maj. Gen. Odunsi worked with the Ijebu-Mushin Community, the Chiefs and the people to establish a library in Ijebu-Mushin, Ogun State.
The initiative also has other ongoing projects in Ago-Iwoye (Ogun State); Ilara-Imokin (Ondo State) with the help of Chief (Dr.) Micheal Ade Ojo, and Mrs. Susan Omojokun as facilitator; in Surulere, Kosofe and Ikorodu (Lagos State).
Each of these libraries will be owned and managed by their communities.
In his response, Prof. Osinbajo commended the governing board of the City Profs Educational Foundation for their great work of humanity. “I had the privilege of attending one of the commissioning events of the CPEF project in Lagos even before I became the Vice President and I am proud to be associated with the organisation as a Member of the Board of Patrons.
“We are happy to announce that the present Lagos State Government has been able to set up few viable virtual libraries across the State, but very insufficient to cater for the growing number of its students’ population. With Tab devices, we would be surprised how many softwares can be downloaded to educate pupils/students on virtually all the subject of life, including English Language, Mathematics, etc.
Prof. Osinbajo therefore encouraged collaborative effort of well-meaning organisations, agencies of government and other NGOs to synergise CPEF in its quest to upgrade to e-learning to accentuate the Federal Government’s drive to upgrade learning to the jet age realities.