Lafarge Africa launched a National Essay Competition themed “Building the Nigeria of my dreams” on the 4th of December, 2020 for pupils in public primary and secondary schools aged 9-13 in both Junior and intermediate categories. 1,600 participants from all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory enrolled for the contest which closed on 15th January, 2021. Lafarge Africa Plc. organised this seventh edition of their competition for young public school students in celebration of Nigeria and the building materials company’s 60th anniversary.
Lafarge Africa launched their literacy intervention in 2014 as a flagship Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative and it has since become an annual activity positively impacting children and teachers across the country. Speaking at the prize presentation which held in a hybrid ceremony on the 19th of March, 2021, the Country Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge Africa, Mr. Khaled El-Dokani, noted that the essay competition is a testament to the company’s commitment to contributing to the development of the Nigerian child through literacy. Keynote speaker at the event, renowned Teen Filmmaker, Presidential Envoy & Education Advocate, Zuriel Oduwole encouraged the pupils to always dream. She stated that ‘If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.’
Miss Ewaade Adebowale of Alapere Primary School, Alapere-Lagos, went home with the first prize in the Junior category and was awarded a cash prize of N1.5 million while Zainab Saliu of Ummul Khair Model School, Lagos and Emmanuel Somefun of Community Nursery & Primary School, Magodo Lagos won N1 million and N750,000 respectively. In the Intermediate category, Miss Bilkisu Aliyu of U.B.E Junior Secondary School, Abaji, F.C.T, won a cash prize of N1.5 million as the overall winner, while Ekpono Obot of Uyo High School, Uyo, Akwa Ibom and Alexandra Pearl Egonu of Federal Government Girls College, Nkwelle, Anambra State won N1 million and N750,000 respectively. This was in addition to many other exciting educational consolation prizes.
All submissions for the competition were received through a competition portal and thereafter reviewed and shortlisted by an independent jury made up of Ruth Osime, ThisDay Style Editor, Otto Orondaam, Founder of Slum to School and Dr. Mo Adefeso Olateju, Founder of TEP centre. The submissions were reviewed in three levels of assessments. The National Essay Competition was supported by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEBs), the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and the Federal Ministry of Education. Lafarge Africa worked in partnership with the Ovie Brume Foundation and PriceWaterHouseCoopers to deliver the intervention.
Present at the Grand Finale event was the First Lady of Lagos State, Her Excellency Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, the First Lady of Gombe State, Her Excellency Hajiya Asma’u Inuwa, the Honourable Commissioner of Education in Ogun State, Gombe State Professor Arigbabu, the Honourable Commissioner of Education Gombe State, Mallam Ibrahim Batari and the Honourable Commissioner of Education, Cross River State, Dr. Amanke Ogar.