Nigeria has one the highest number of children that are out of school and uneducated -mostly for reasons ranging from poverty to lack of opportunity. In a bid to stamp this out, Valuable Generation Foundation (VGF), a non-governmental organization, is working to sponsor less privileged children educationally.
The NGO has initiated a scholarship award programme that empowers deserving students who participate in their annual essay competition. VGF also helps these young students find their direction in life through counselling and mentorship programmes.
In this interview with YNaija, Feyisayo Abere, President of VGF, speaks on the mission of the organisation and their efforts to ensure more children are educated.
What is the mission of your initiative?
Our Mission is to;
To help rekindle the passion/interest for education/acquisition of knowledge among the young ones. This in turn will help build capability and competency development in Nigeria.
To stir up the youths to live out their dreams of a great future early in life.
To ensure that the young ones explore the treasures deposited in them and hence fulfill purpose/destiny.
In What year was the Valuable Generation Foundation Founded?
Valuable Generation Foundation was founded precisely on 21st April, 2012.
What birthed the initiative?
I grew up in a community in Oshodi, Lagos.
There are a lot of families in this community who struggle to make ends meet therefore leaving the students most of the times to sort out themselves through school. There were prevalent cases of school dropouts and loss of interest in education due to lack of financial capacity/support from the parents who are majorly low income earners. You get to see students engaging in street hawking, ‘okada’ riding, roadside trading e.t.c. to support their families financially.
Also, the young ones are plagued with inferiority complex/low self-esteem and lack of exposure due to their background. To solve these social issues, we decided to take on the challenge by reaching out to the young ones within the community through our NGO by organizing an annual essay competition/spelling bee to help refocus the young ones and re-build their interest towards education and we give out scholarship award to deserving students who are shortlisted through participation in our competitions. We also hold life transforming seminars to re-orientate them for a positive shift in their mentality towards a great future.
So far, since 2012, we have been able to sponsor nine beneficiaries and organized seven seminars.
Your organization is doing great works to better the society. What are the challenges your organization face?
The major challenge is funding the initiative as it is majorly personally funded for now but there is a limit to what personal funding can do because we also started to take up projects in schools within the community. Although, as friends, family and acquaintances see what we are doing, they send in their widow’s mite to support the initiative.
How does the scholarship scheme work?
At the beginning of every school session, we roll an essay competition for students between J.S.S.3 – S.S.S. 2. We partner with the schools’ principals to encourage the students to send in their entries. Finalists for the spelling bee competition are shortlisted from the entries. The first three winners that emerge from the spelling bee competition are awarded cash prizes of N50,000.00, N30,000.00 & N20,000.00 towards the completion of their secondary education.
We also select students from our entries that are sent for Leadership Academy for exposure and to horn their leadership abilities and skills.
Also, the organization takes up a project in the school represented by the first prize winner.
What are the criteria for getting the scholarship?
The criteria are that;
Applicants must be in the secondary school; J.S.S3 – S.S.S2. Applicants are also required to send in either handwritten or typed essay entries of not more than 1000 words, stamped and signed by their school principal or Vice principal on the competition topic to our post office box; P.O.Box 4478, Oshodi, Lagos or E-mail address;[email protected]
Applicants are also required to provide their details (Name, Class, School & Telephone contact) on the entries.
Tell us about the seminar your initiative holds.
Our seminars feature seasoned achievers and speakers who come to engage and motivate the students on how to find their path and live out their dreams early in life. So far we have held seven seminars that catered to topics on career, finance & economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and purpose. The seminar is usually held alongside the scholarship award event.
Do you consider your organization a success story? If so,why?
Our success stories come from the testimonials of the students we have impacted.
Some of the students that were sponsored for the completion of their secondary education already have admission into higher institutions to study courses of their choice. We also have feedbacks from some of the students on how our seminars have impacted them.
Below are feedback sent in by a couple of our beneficiaries;
Feedback from Beneficiaries:
The impact VGF had on my academic and personal life was very tremendous. I never had the boldness to speak in the public/crowd anytime I had the opportunity to but after the VGF Competition I gained boldness to speak in public which has earned me various awards. The competition built my self-esteem and made me think big. Thank God For Valuable Generation Foundation. – Titilayo
I came about Valuable Generation Foundation about four years ago when I came across the handbill publicizing their annual essay competition; “What would you do if you were the president of your country”. I participated and by God’s help, I emerged as one of the winners /beneficiaries for that year. I used part of the money won to purchase my G.C.E form. Ever since then, I have been with the organization. I have attended their seminars which have impacted me so much such that it brought out a new me. Through their platform, I learned to spell well and also developed the boldness to speak before an audience. I am also well able to pick up any challenge and believe I’ll do it right. I have also learned to meet people’s needs and experienced what it feels like to be celebrated. -Dapo
What are the future plans of your NGO?
Our main vision is to ensure that every Nigerian child is educated to at least the secondary school level one step at a time. From the saying that; “charity begins at home” we decided to start from our immediate community in Oshodi, Lagos. As we get corporate organizations and individuals to partner with us for sponsorship, we plan to spread our tentacles and reach to communities in other regions.