I am pleased to be invited to this unique occasion as Special Guest of Honour. We gather at this auspicious moment to celebrate our children. We gather to celebrate an assured future leadership. We celebrate brains and academic excellence.
Let me begin by congratulating Lafarge Africa for successfully completing the 6th edition of this Literacy competition. Reading, writing, pronunciation and spelling, which we celebrate here today, form the bedrock of learning in any language. Lafarge must be celebrated for continually sponsoring these values and literacy which remains a key driver of sustainable development while deviating from the disturbing trend where organizations place huge sums on prize money for winners of games and pageantries that are based purely on luck and natural beauty rather than mental prowess as displayed by the kids we have here today.
The 700, 000 Nigerian children that have been positively motivated by Lafarge Africa’s intervention these past six years will never forget the change that has been brought into their lives and I believe they will replicate it in due time! You have contributed to the knowledge economy of our dear country.
While appreciating the support of Lafarge, I will like to throw a challenge to parents who are here today: separate love from discipline!
You can love your children to the moon and back and still enforce discipline in your home. Social media is the norm in this digital age where we find ourselves; if parents fail to enforce strict adherence to age-restrictions for joining various social media platforms, children who unfortunately, are still within the impressionable ages, will be exposed to wrong values and negative tendencies and turn out unproductive people or even a threat to society.
I know I am not the only one that has noticed – spelling and literary excellence have become a growing nightmare to many children in our society today! Gone are those days when education was strictly the concern of parents and school teachers; today’s children are greatly and negatively influenced by the friends they make on various social media platforms who continually devise many terrible short forms of spelling in their text messaging.
Being an advocate for literacy, the first event I organized when my husband became Governor in 2015 was an essay and quiz competition for Junior secondary school students across the entire 18 LGAs of Cross River State. My motivation was simply the perception that educational standards were on the decrease. I have continued to sponsor similar events in the State focusing on essay writing, visual arts and general knowledge, and I am ready to join forces with anyone or organization that places premium on the education of our children like Lafarge Africa has done in the last six years.
Realizing the need to catch them young and inculcate the right academic values on them, the Cross River State Government is leaving no stone unturned in her quest to give education its rightful pride of place. Across the State, there is massive infrastructural development in both primary and secondary schools, backed up with state of the art facilities and adequate manpower for proper teaching and learning.
The State Government, also, recently took over schools established by Communities to ensure quality and proper standards while also constructing model schools across the three Senatorial districts of the State. In all of these, excellence remains our watchword.
On an interesting note, may I, with all pleasure, inform Lafarge Africa that apart from hosting the Lafarge plant in Nigeria, Cross River State as a committed partner is ready, willing and able to play host to the 2020 Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition grand finale come November next year!
We are Calabar. We are the definition of hospitality. We invite you to come away from the hustle and bustle of Lagos and enjoy the serene, clean and green life that we offer!
And as December inches closer, Carnival Calabar, Africa’s Biggest Street party beckons! We invite you to be a part of this historic event. Welcome to Calabar.
Thank you and God bless.
Dr. Linda Ayade is the wife of the Cross River State Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade.
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