#Impact365: Tunde Ekpekurede Foundation provides academic and financial support to indigent children

Tunde Ekpekurede Foundation is a non-profit organization that is committed to implementing economic empowerment programs for disadvantaged and unemployed persons.

In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, we learn about the mission, projects and challenges of the NGO.

Please tell us more about Tunde Ekpekurede Foundation

The Tunde Ekpekurede Foundation was incorporated in 2014 to alleviate economic poverty and empower, inspire and motivate the citizenry. Since incorporation, TEF has undertaken various economic empowerment programs and nearly 2000 persons, mainly adults have been impacted by the activities of the foundation. Between August and December 2016, TEF carried out a number of pilot studies on empowerment of Children under the age of 15. These pilot activities were intended to determine which economic activities will have the highest returns on a naira invested in poverty alleviation activities. In early 2017, TEF resolved to focus 95% of its resources and energies in the lives of economically disadvantaged children under the age of 15.

In 2013 before its formal incorporation, the founder Tunde & his wife Faith established a model skill acquisition centres in their village, Adeje to train adults in relevant skills that can help graduates of the program establish their own business. The residential free boarding school, trained over a thousand adults from all over Nigeria in various skills including ICT, GSM repairs, cake baking, fashion design, make-over, fashion accessories and organized free adult literacy classes.

How does TEF function?

The core need the organization is striving to meet is that of raising aspirations of economically disadvantaged kids. Studies have shown that a great number of kids who drop out of school do so because of a lack of motivation which is undergirded by very low aspiration.

Education remains one of the most potent force for the eradication of poverty; but amongst children of poor families where children are sent to ramshackle schools due to poor Government funding, the quality is barely able to cause a shift in the lives of these children. Even where the quality of education is such that should ordinarily result in a change of mental circuitry, children from poor families have additional non-cognitive behaviours to contend with which could make them drop out of school, or where they continue, they do so with very poor self-image that impedes their ability to compete with children from rich homes.

Generally speaking, a majority of children from very poor families are likely to suffer from one or more of the non-cognitive behavioural traits below:

• Self-efficacy – Belief in one’s own ability

• Need for achievement – Desire to do well

• Risk taking – Predisposition towards risky alternatives

• Social Orientation – Ability to make useful connections

• Persistence – Ability to continue despite setbacks

• Motivating – Ability to inspire or stimulate subordinates

• Pro – activity – Willingness to take action

• Creativity – Ability to generate many alternatives

The activities of Tunde Ekpekurede Foundation are subdivided into two broad themes:

* The Next Generation Kids University (NGKU) Project

* TEF Scholarship and Support Fund

While the NGKU takes on the academic support we provide indigent children, the TEF scholarship and support fund looks after the financial support we provide them.

What is the Next Generation Kids University project about and how many children have passed through so far?

NGKU as an interventionist educational project that seeks to break the cycle of poverty amongst generations of poor, disadvantaged families and communities will focus on supporting Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in Nigeria with non-cognitive and academic skills that enhance learning and raise aspirations. The focus of the project is primary pupils in Primaries 5 &6 and JSS pupils. We’ve graduated 200 kids so far.

At what point do you let the children off your watch or do you see them through to higher education?

Currently we let them off after one year, but match those with severe financial needs with sponsors and plan to see them through university.

What system do you have in place for monitoring the progress of the kids who pass through NGKU?

We are currently designing a lifelong mentorship program for all kids that go through our program.

You usually seek for donations from Nigerians, has the reception been encouraging?

The reception has been better than we envisaged at the beginning.

What are the major challenges TEF has faced so far?

Developing a workable curriculum, finding sponsors for the kids and funding of our various programs.

Please share some of your plans for 2017 with us.

Our 2017 plan is to begin to partner with the government. Already we have begun working with the Delta State Government by exploring, testing and refining delivery methodology with 6 partner schools in the State. We also plan to expand our geographical reach to include one State in the Southwest, one in the North and one in the South East and we are looking forward to approaching the Kano State government soon.

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