By Bassey Udo
The United Kingdom has unveiled a new global partnership with 11 global businesses to improve girl child access to education and employment in Nigeria and other developing countries.
The new global partnership, with UBA Foundation and 10 other organisations, was unveiled by the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on Tuesday to mark the 2022 International Women’s Day.
The UK government would contribute an initial £9million, with UBA and the other partners providing an additional £11million.
The programme would also help in improving girl child access to education as a key part of the UK’s foreign policy, to ensure the build back from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent a lost generation.
“Investing in education helps lift communities out of poverty and protects girls from early marriage, forced labour and gender-based violence,” the statement said.
The UBA Foundation said it would be working with 10 other global businesses and the UK government as well as the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited (GenU) to fund the programme aimed at providing high quality skills training to about one million girls around the world.
The UBA Foundation and other private sector players and global businesses include Accenture, Standard Chartered, Unilever, Microsoft, Pearson, PwC, Coursera, Vodafone, BP and Cognizant.
The UK Government said its drive to undertake the project, which is expected to have far-reaching positive effects for the girl-child across the world, was to ensure that millions of children who did not have any access to school – and girls from disadvantaged families, and were particularly vulnerable to missing out on education, whether through poverty or prejudice, were taken care of.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said, created more barriers to education, with a peak of 1.6 billion children around the world having faced school closures.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said this was UK’s first education partnership of its kind where the UK Government is joining forces with the private sector to boost girls’ access to education in developing countries.
He said the United Kingdom has long been a proud and mighty champion of this fundamental cause, adding that today the partners have taken a giant leap further through their first Global Partnership of its kind, to open opportunities for one million girls across the developing world to have access to high quality skills training.
“Ensuring every girl and young woman across the globe receives 12 years of quality education is the greatest tool in our armoury to end the world’s great injustices,” Johnson said.
“Delivering on this mission will be one of the best defences against ignorance, ensure the greatest protection from prejudice and put a rocket booster behind our hopes and dreams for global development in the years to come,” he added.
Some of the businesses involved, Johnson said, would be contributing a range of resources, including books, computers and other technology, mentoring, advice and access to their networks, skills and training programmes, just as the private sector involvement would help ensure education and learning opportunities provide girls with the skills for the future that employers need.
The Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa(UBA), Tony Elumelu, reiterated the importance of educating the girl child and giving back always as we strive towards sustainable development.
“We understand first hand, the need to empower young women in African communities to catalyse sustainable socio economic development. At the UBA Group, we are committed to women empowerment and we continue to champion women causes in our business and through our work in philanthropy. Working together, we must ensure that our girls are properly educated and attain the necessary skills that allow them to effectively compete as the world becomes increasingly global,” He added.
Elumelu thanked the Prime Minister and the UK Special Envoy, Helen Grant, for the laudable initiative that would see more girls globally, being educated.
The UBA Foundation is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the United Bank for Africa group. The Foundation is focused on initiatives that support Education, Empowerment and the Environment on the African continent.