Isdora Enwere: School Library Renovation Project Will Promote Quality Education

Isdora Enwere: School Library Renovation Project Will Promote Quality Education

Passionate about social development and keen on quality education for children, serial entrepreneur Isdora Enwere is on a mission to build 28 libraries across Africa by 2028. This she hopes to achieve through her foundation, Dora Aid, which she founded in 2012. She tells Vanessa Obioha in a chat why this project is dear to her heart and emphasises the crucial role these libraries play in fortifying children’s learning experiences in our ever-evolving, digital-driven world.

I understand you just moved back to Nigeria. What influenced your decision to relocate now?

I’ll say moving back home has always been a part of the plan. There would be no better place to share my knowledge and expertise than in my home country. We all have a role to play in nation-building, and I’ll always do my part and play my role.

Can you share some of these projects you are working on?
Our organisation focuses on improving child education and child well-being. It was founded in 2012 same year I turned 18 and all our projects and outreaches since inception have been children-focused.
Our goal for the next five years is to continue to promote and support quality education while also championing causes related to the well-being of children. We kicked off a project earlier this year called “ The Library Project”-a school library renovation project aimed at promoting and encouraging reading, literacy and quality education. Through this project, we intend to greatly achieve part of our goal 5-year goal. We plan to renovate 28 school libraries by 2028. 20 libraries in Nigeria, and 8 in South Africa. We recently completed the first renovation for a school in Vaal, Gauteng, South Africa and the joy we saw on the faces of the students, parents, stakeholders and teachers is really part of the reason we do all this.

You started your NGO quite early. Is there a backstory to this?

I’ve always been passionate about social development and problem-solving. My parents easily spotted that and always encouraged my kindness. My passion is also the reason why my educational qualifications are all social and human-centred. However, one of the reasons I started my organisation was because there was a big gap leading to child neglect and low quality life experiences for children. Children form part of the most vulnerable population in the world and they depend on their guardians, communities, institutions and government for a quality standard of life. In many cases, none of these custodians are able to fill in the gaps. Our organisation is bridging the gap by promoting quality well-being and education for Nigerian children and beyond. Our projects reinforce learning, promote quality learning, and promote convenient environments for children to learn in.

How innovative are these libraries, given that children are more drawn to screens?
Children are definitely more drawn to screens due to how digitalised the world has become. E-libraries (online libraries) have also become powerful resources centres since the pandemic. Part of our goals for the library project is to equip the libraries with desktops & laptops for easy research and learning however restricting the systems for the purpose of research only.

Are these libraries for secondary or primary schools?

Secondary schools.

Are these schools spread across the geopolitical zones of Nigeria?

Yes, we are going to cut across all the geopolitical zones. We hope that the project will motivate the government, business bodies, and organisations to undertake similar projects.

Last month, Future Kids Competition hosted a quiz competition that drew the attention of the Lagos State administration, and I served as one of the judges. The three schools that came out at the top are going to be beneficiaries of the Library project.

How would you assess children’s rights to education and well-being in Nigeria?

Children are neglected in Nigeria. There are so many things that are shocking about how children’s rights are treated. Take, for instance, the student who was bullied in Dowen College, Sylvester Oromoni. The family is yet to get justice after two years. I also read in the news that the children who bullied him come from influential homes, so that is also delaying justice. Incidents like this reveal that we are in a society where children bully other children and get away with it, highlighting a lack of humanity.

Through my experiences with children, I’ve had troubling instances. I’ve had troubling instances through my experiences with children, such as the abduction of a three-year-old daughter from a certain family. There was a rumor implicating their neighbor. Despite taking it upon ourselves to report the case to the police, nothing was done, and that child is still missing. Unfortunately, this scenario plays out, arguably, at least every two days in Nigeria. We have children of low socioeconomic class going missing, while some end up as victims of organ harvesting. The security agencies and judiciary appear complicit in allowing these injustices to persist within our society. That is to show you the extent to which children’s rights are neglected. Respecting and upholding children’s rights would mitigate the deplorable conditions plaguing many schools and hospitals.

Although I would like to think that we are a work in progress, it is a sad tale when we talk about how children’s rights are respected.

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