In order to rejuvenate reading culture in Nigeria, a notable energy company in the country, Sahara Group, has launched an initiative called “Look to the Book”. The unveiling of this idea was on March 7, 2019, in commemoration of the World Book Day.
In a world dominated by various smart devices and a fast declining appetite for reading, Sahara Group seeks to make books appealing through sundry collaborations with Sahara Foundation and its partners.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics (UIS), about 617 million children and adolescents globally are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.
This signals “a learning crisis” according to the UIS, which could threaten progress towards achieving the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development by 2030.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the single largest number of 202 million children and adolescents who are not learning these fundamental subjects. According to the data – two thirds of the kids who are not learning are in school. The data suggests the new numbers are rooted in three common problems. First, lack of access, with children who are out of school having little or no chance to reach a minimum level of proficiency. Second, a failure to retain every child in school and keep them on track, and third, the issue of the quality of education being delivered in the classroom.
Over the years, Sahara Group has invested in the building and renovation of libraries across Africa while organising school reading programmes anchored by volunteer staff as well as regional and global organisations.
Speaking on the initiative, Manager of Sahara Foundation, Mr Oluseyi Ojurongbe said, “The World Book Day is marked in more than 100 countries and it is a UNESCO initiative that aims to celebrate the value of books and reading, especially among young people today.
“We will be driving the “Look to the Book” initiative by encouraging Sahara staff to volunteer towards book reading activities across our host communities and donate towards ensuring more access to books for less privileged children.
“The initiative will also seek to connect such communities with established publishers and charities with focus of enhancing access to books. This will help reduce the book penetration gap across Africa.”
Sahara Group’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Bethel Obioma, stated that, “At Sahara Group we believe that books have the potential to shape and transform lives and ultimately, empower the minds that will be making crucial decisions across the globe. We are confident the initiative will inspire a new wave of innovation and inspiration among African youths.”
Some of the library projects recently implemented by Sahara Foundation include: Pugu Secondary school Library Tanzania and UMC Primary school Library Ibadan- Nigeria.
This year Sahara Foundation will be renovating libraries in some of our host communities and providing reading materials to children in communities where books are scarce.
The goal of this intervention is to encourage children and adults to look to the book as a source of inspiration and the wings they need to soar into the future they desire.