Children celebrated the completion of four new classrooms at their school in Abeokuta, Nigeria, this month with dancing and speeches at an official handover event.
Latter-day Saint Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helped build the block of classrooms in partnership with the Build-a-School Initiative in Africa and Coafrica, the Africa Classroom Coalition.
The classrooms were finished in three months and handed over to the school at an official event on Feb. 1. Local Church leaders as well as government and education officials were in attendance.
Africa Newsroom reported that the school’s head girl and head boy both spoke at the event, expressing their gratitude for the new facilities. Build-a-School Initiative built the first block of classrooms in 2018, but it was soon evident that more were needed.
Build-a-School Initiative in Africa is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to facilitate, accelerate, amplify and provide world-class educational infrastructures for children in Africa’s poorest communities.” Victor Ukorebi, president of the initiative, said at the ceremony that research shows school facilities can have a profound impact on both teachers’ and students’ outcomes.
A blog post from Coafrica about the November 2021 groundbreaking explained that 156 students were on the waitlist at the school in Abeokuta, but the lack of classrooms, chairs and desks meant they could not attend. The organization wrote about partnering with Latter-day Saint Charities and Build-a-School Initiative to expand the school to allow space for 200 more students:
“This project is unique because it is a pilot program supported by [Latter-day Saint] Charities. [Latter-day Saint] Charities will be matching the building costs that Coafrica expends on this project, and potentially on many more projects to come. We are thrilled for this partnership and can’t wait to double the impact we can make in underserved African communities,” said the blog post.
At the handover ceremony at the school this month, the deputy governor of Ogun State, in which Abeokuta is located, expressed her appreciation to Build-a-School Initiative, Coafrica and the Church for helping provide a conducive learning environment for the children of the school.
The humanitarian specialist for the Church’s Africa West Area, Mahmud Labinjo, spoke about other humanitarian aid the Church has provided in Nigeria — such as toilet facilities and water boreholes, of which the school is a beneficiary. He stated that “we are brothers and sisters and must care for the welfare of one another,” according to Africa Newsroom.
Latter-day Saint Charities has been actively working in Africa under the direction of the local Church area presidencies. It recently delivered water boreholes to four villages in Ghana, and partnered with Water for People on a project in Uganda. Latter-day Saint Charities also partnered with ShelterBox to help people displaced in Africa, and is providing the proper fit of wheelchairs for recipients in South Africa. In March, the organization’s annual report is expected to provide details on the projects from 2021. Here is the report from 2020.