For Africa to leverage its human capital dividend, investments in education must be encouraged to transcend short-term gains and embrace the enduring commitment required to achieve sustainable transformation.
The World Bank reports that every dollar invested in an additional year of schooling yields an economic return of at least 10 percent. This indicates that the ripple effects of this impact investment extend far beyond increased income, encompassing improved financial outcomes, reduced inequality, and heightened social cohesion.
The private sector and non governmental organisations has a role to play in this equation and could be a main contributor to help resolve key challenges in education that would ultimately help develop communities further.
It is in this light that the Special Foundation, a social impact organisation focusing on raising young African leaders through education by providing platforms and opportunities to fulfil their dreams continues to invest in education.
A community of young professionals with a vision to improve the quality of leadership in all spheres of governance in Africa by creating access for more children to receive quality education, the foundation has empowered over 15,000 less privileged, gifted African Children through education, mentorship, and leadership opportunities.
With a goal to reach 100,000 children by 2030, the Special Foundation recently hosted its highly anticipated annual Transforming Education Summit 2023, on September 29, 2023, at the Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC) in Victoria Island, Lagos.
This year’s Transforming Education Summit bore the theme ‘Enhancing Access and Quality Education in Africa.’ The summit gathered visionaries, partners, corporate leaders, and esteemed diplomatic representatives, converging to effect meaningful change in the realm of education.
The event transcended the realm of the ordinary, evolving into a dynamic and empowering congregation characterized by thought-provoking dialogues, impactful collaborations, and impassioned advocacy.
The summit aimed to chart innovative and sustainable approaches to uplift the educational standards for underprivileged children living in low-income communities.
Notable highlights of the summit encompassed insightful discussions led by distinguished dignitaries in attendance, including Abubakar Suleiman, CEO of Sterling Bank; Oluwatomi Somefun, CEO of Unity Bank; Gbenga Oyebode, Board Chairman at African Philanthropy Forum; Asue Ighodalo, Founding Partner at Banwo & Ighodalo; Adeyemi Ademola, MD of First E&P; Chukwuma Nwanze, MD Credit Direct, amongst other special guests who engaged in an engaging panel session.
Abubakar Suleiman articulated the role of the private sector, emphasising its responsibility to improve the lives of underprivileged children. He stated, “In societies where children reside in impoverished conditions, we, the privileged elite, are responsible for eradicating their suffering. It is not an act of benevolence but a solemn obligation.”
He continued, “A significant issue within the corporate sector is the pursuit of success at the expense of society. Some corporate actions inadvertently contribute to the creation of impoverished communities. Then, after achieving success, they attempt to ameliorate the problems they have indirectly caused. This approach raises concerns, and I believe that corporations must build their enterprises responsibly, avoiding the creation of slums and societal impoverishment.”
Oluwatomi Somefun emphasized the power of collaboration for the greater good, stating, “Individual efforts can be limiting, as we often find ourselves overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges. Collaborations offer the advantage of diffusing emotional burdens, leading to more informed and intelligent decision-making. Together, we can achieve much more.”
The summit also featured inspirational stories from beneficiaries of The Special Foundation’s Inspire Scholarship program, a captivating live performance by Seun Adesina and Sinmidele Ayodeji, and a thought-provoking call to action by Mr. Olakunle Soriyan, Chief Knowledge Officer of Kenneth Soriyan Research and Ideas LLC.
Addressing the audience, Seyi Akinwale, Founder of The Special Foundation, conveyed the foundation’s core mission, “Founded several years ago, The Special Foundation’s mission is to transform Africa’s future leaders by tackling the educational crisis in our society through increased access to education. What’s truly rewarding is our journey from a single child nine years ago to now impacting over fifteen thousand children and providing continuous scholarships to over four hundred children. This success is a testament to the collaborative spirit of the institutions and individuals here today’’.