#Impact365: These professionals are rebuilding rundown schools in Lagos

Established in 2013, HR -in -Action is a human capability development and career leadership social enterprise located in Lagos, Nigeria.

In this interview with YNaija’s #Impact365 series, Oladunni Afolabi tells us about the group’s latest project.

Could you tell us more about your initiative?

First, my name is Oladunni Afolabi and I am the project lead for HRinAction BOMS Project. BOMS stands for Bishop Oluwole Memorial Primary School rebuilding project. A project to rebuild a rundown 76 year old pubic primary school complex into a world class multipurpose modern school structure with music, sports, ICT and special needs facility. It is a social responsibility project championed by our organisation. We are passionate about developing talent through basic education intervention and we saw the BOMS project as an opportunity to make an impact in the basic education sector

What motivated this initiative? How long have you been doing this?

This initiative was birthed out of a passion to improve the quality of talent we have in Nigeria. We discovered that the best talent/ human resource are groomed from cradle and that is the primary school. So being a human resource development social enterprise, we decided to channel our CSR activities in this area to enable us build a vibrant workforce in the best school facility from a very tender age. Hence the reason for our name hrinactionandcsr.

We have been at this community education CSR projects since 2013 which was the year our organisation was established. We started out with the World Teachers’ Day celebration with all 800 public primary school teachers in Ifako Ijaiye Local government area. Awards and recognition were given to outstanding teachers in the local government who had taught their subjects exceptionally well with evidence and testimonies. We also recognised exceptional head teachers and longest serving teachers.

Much later, we had a Christmas breakfast session with all Head boys and Head girls of all the 28 public primary schools in Ifako Ijaiye Local government area .This was basically a motivational session where we shared with the pupils the need to study hard and keep being the best in all they did.

Both events earned us 2 awards from the Lagos state government and the Local government respectively. But being a passionate organisation that we are, we decided to take our impact further. We did a simple observation of most of the schools in this local government and discovered that just a handful had a beautiful and conducive infrastructure. We sought the opinion of the education authorities of our willingness to rebuild the schools giving them our criteria then the choice of Bishop Oluwole Memorial School came up and fitted exactly into our request. Most people would rather rehabilitate a school but our analysis of the school in line with the realities of the global work place made us know we needed to rebuild and revamp this old school into a world class school environment . Hence the reason for BOMS School Rebuilding Project

A possible question would be: Why Ifako Ijaiye local Government

The simple answer is this: First most of us in the team including my humble self-leading the team grew up in this community. Secondly, the Ifako Ijaiye community is quite significant to Nigeria in the ff ways.

  • It is the approaching destination for flying into Lagos wherever you are coming from
  • It was in this community the Dana Air Crash of June 2012 occurred
  • The famous Iju water works which provided water to Lagos and its environs is located here
  • If you uses the railway and board it from Agege terminus, you needed to ride through the grounds of Ifako Ijaiye
  • An FIRS Iju Road office is located here which means the locality contributes to national development
  • Several gas pipelines, telecom masts and electric poles are within this community.

Having identified these significance to Lagos and Nigeria as a whole, we felt it was high time this local community improved better than it currently is and our best impact was through basic education.

How do you intend to achieve your goals for this project?

Being an outright school reconstruction project and not a rehabilitation, we have a N650m modern/ multi-purpose school complex before us. Our plan is to reach out to CSR departments of Pro-Nigerian organisations, the school alumni and well-meaning Nigerians to support and donate material and financial resources. For us we believe that what we needed most was the vision and the plan and we are certain the funds are guaranteed.

What challenges do you currently face?

The greatest challenge was getting the CSR and public affairs teams of the 83 organisations we had written to respond. Secondly, though we have a database of the alumni of the school since 1940, reaching them hasn’t been so easy but social media and word of mouth referrals is helping in this area. We had a plan to deliver the school before its 77th anniversary in 2017 and we are praying hard that availability of funds will not delay us. At the moment we are still on a social media campaign so we can get all the funds we need.

So far, how has the response been? 

Wow!! I must say that when we went the social media campaign route, the response has been amazing. We have had more person’s viewing the school documentary on you tube and the whatsapp platform has helped a great deal. The best responses have come from the Nigerians in Diaspora who truly want Nigeria to work. We have also gotten amazing responses from elderly alumni and the 70s set of the school who have committed their support and readiness to be a part of it. A few companies’ and individuals are also beginning to show some interest from the Facebook campaign in response to our hard copy project brochure earlier sent to them. Ours is to stay positively focused on the goal till it is achieved

Do you intend to focus on public schools only?

Yes please. However not just any public school but public primary schools. Such a school must be very old preferably close to a 100 years old , must be heavily dilapidated, preferably located in the least developing areas of the cities, such community should have a significance to Nigeria  and should possibly be an inclusive school like this one which caters for both regular and special needs children. With this criteria, we can be deliberate in our reach and also be able to impact more children with diverse needs.

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