All over the world, education has proven to be the driving force in achieving national development. From time immemorial, great empires and kingdoms have been hinged on a colony of educated people who serve as a driving force for their economy. Education in the 16th century may be quite different from what we believe it is now, but the foundations are quite similar. However, all over Africa, we find that the problems of education seem to be multi-faceted. It is quite disheartening that all over the continent, particularly Nigeria there seems to be a lot of challenges in the education sector. These challenges are issues that burned in the heart of some Nigerian students — the Riverwood Switch Foundation — and they decided to take action.
The Riverwood Switch Foundation is a youth driven non-governmental organization designed and set up to provide indigent children access to basic education. It started in June 2017 with a group of undergraduates contributing part of their feeding allowances to help kids living in slums and rural communities get education. While in their final year, these students started their outreach by rehabilitating a classroom in a local primary school in the deep bushes of Ado Ekiti.
They have evolved from being a group into an organisation of over 40 members, more than 80% of them students across various universities in the country. These young students have embarked on various educational projects, including providing uniforms for 50 pupils who come from underprivileged background. This was done in collaboration with The Destiny Trust Foundation, which enrolled these children at the Lagos Model Primary School, Lekki, Lagos.
Currently, The Riverwood Switch Foundation has enrolled 27 children living in the Makoko Slums into school. These are children living in shanties on Makoko waters, which prior to the scholarship couldn’t read or write and had no form of formal education.
The project, titled 'Educate Our Children', is designed to provide fully-funded scholarships to indigent children whose parents cannot afford the cost of education. This scholarship includes payment of school fees, and provision of uniforms, bags, sandals, writing materials, textbooks and exercise books at a total cost of N50,000 per child for a year and a total of N1.3million to provide education for the 27 children yearly.
Majority of the funding comes from an Internally Generated Revenue-based plan where every member commits at least N1000 every month towards the project. The motto of the group states: "We must first be charitable before we tell others to be charitable. Little drops of water forms the ocean and together we can transform the lives of these children.”
Various individuals who are friends of the foundation have regularly contributed financially to the advancement of the project.
"We believe that every Nigerian child is an uncut, unrefined diamond and until we all come together and decide to bequeath to our children sound education that inculcates knowledge and relevant skills, our country will remain a defeated giant," said Mobolaji Oriola, Chief Executive Officer, The Riverwood Switch Foundation.
"There is a firm belief that global powers are made by empowered citizens and for Nigeria to rise out of its challenges, it must of utmost priority empower its children. Our children are our future."