Etisalat calls for more funding of education sector

COMMITTED to promoting academic excellence among tertiary institution students in Nigeria, leading telecommunications giant, Etisalat recently rewarded some outstanding students of Nigerian higher institutions for their brave academic performances, through its education empowerment scheme, Etisalat Merit Awards that held at the Oriental Hotel Lagos. 

    Speaking at the event, the CEO Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Mathew Willsher said the award is a scholarship scheme designed to fulfill the company’s goal of empowering the society through knowledge acquisition and promoting education within Nigeria. 

     In his opening remarks, Willsher reiterated the importance of education and innovation to human development and improvement of the quality of human lives. He lamented the global illiteracy rate, which currently stands at one billion. 

     He also congratulated the 70 students drawn from seven universities in the country, describing them as the future of the Nigeria and adding that the country’s greatness in the area of innovation and scientific discoveries lay on their shoulders.

    Speaking further, he canvassed private sector partnership for funding education in the country and argued that education is critical to development and should not be left exclusively to government to fund. He added that this was why Etisalat Nigeria is involved with promoting education as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility.

     He said: “We are gathered here in recognition of the importance of education. It is sad that about one billion people can’t read globally. We know that government is doing a lot in the area of funding and promoting education, but corporate organizations also have roles to play and this is why we focus on education as one of our corporate social responsibility initiatives.”

    “The importance of education is further underscored by the fact that studies have shown that countries where less than 20 per cent go to school are less developed compared to others. Countries with less literacy rate miss out on a lot of things because they have a community of people who can’t read,” he added.

      Highpoints of the ceremony was the innovation contest among the participating universities and the award ceremony proper. Selected scholars of the five institutions made five-minute presentations of innovations of their choice. 

     Tagged The Etisalat Innovation Moment, the presentations were judged based on adaptability, value, social impact, environmental impact and rate of feasibility. They were scored by a panel of judges. 

     The entry by Onohaebi Samuel, a 400-level undergraduate of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of the University of Benin was adjudged the best, and he emerged winner. James Fagboun of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, and Eigbe Eghonghon of University of Lagos came second and third respectively. 

     While Samuel got N100, 000 and a HP laptop for his efforts, Eghonghon and Fagboun won a Techno Phantom device each for their efforts. Besides, the participating students, 10 each from the seven schools that took part in the contest, went home with N100, 000 each, while their schools were awarded N1.1 Million each courtesy of the telecommunication company.

    Speaking after the ceremony, Samuel exuded happiness and said: “This is a dream come true for me. I have always wanted to be commended for my academic prowess and now that I have been so recognized, it would serve as a motivation to do more, especially in the area of improving access to power for creative uses across all economic sectors.”

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