The New Foundation School (NFS), a Chibok Girls Education Initiative at AUN, had its second award ceremony on Friday, August 25, when it rewarded deserving students for excellence in academics, athletics, and attributes.
NFS was created for the kidnapped Chibok girls who braved an escape in 2014. It began in 2014 with 24 students, eight of whom have now graduated from the school and enrolled in the University.
The school grouped the awards into academics, attribute, and athletics. In the attribute category, there were awards for the most punctual, best behaved, the most outgoing, and the best public speaking student. For athletics, there were awards for students who did the most sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks, as well as the overall best athletic participant. In the academics category, there was an award for the best student in every subject in both the intermediate and the advanced classes.
“I took special care looking at everything you have done and I couldn’t be more proud,” said President Dekle in her opening remarks. “You really do live out our virtues of excellence, integrity, and service.” The President said she would continue to work with the girls and to make the word “Chibok” become synonymous with positive virtues. “This year, I want you to work with me and everyone in this room to make Chibok the latest word in the Oxford English Dictionary. Do you remember when I said we are going to make it something else besides a village? C-Character, H-Honesty, I-Intelligence, B-Bravery, O-Openness, and K-Kindness.”
Assistant VP Community Engagement Reginald Braggs, who coordinates NFS, told those assembled: “This is always the special evening for us. We highlight our students and all of the things that they have done in the last year academically, socially, and athletically.”
Mr. Braggs said the Chibok Girls Education Initiative was the brainchild of former President Margee Ensign, who felt obligated--AUN being a development university--to do something about the tragedy that had befallen the kidnapped girls. “…We offered these students the opportunity to turn tragedy into triumph.”
NFS grouped the students on different scholastic levels, basic, intermediate, and advanced, starting with English Language, Mathematics, General Knowledge, and spelling. “[Five] more courses were then added and it became eight subjects. They needed to get into a pipeline towards their dream”, Mr. Braggs said.
AVP Braggs said that the students also participated in a variety of social activities, “Because we really want them to have an overall general type of education, not only focused on academics but also on activities such as basketball, bike riding, art class, game night, movie night, karaoke night, spelling bee contest, and music class.”
NFS Administrator, Jimoh Abubakar, said the program is transforming the young women. “The NFS is a highly organized group of intellectuals, saddled with the responsibility of teaching, nurturing, loving, mentoring, and perfecting the young ladies into a set of confident, academically sound, behaviorally upright, athletically fit, and active women capable of developing themselves and the society at large.”
There was also an NFS Supporters’ Award for Robert Smith, Dr. Margee Ensign, Dr. Adrian Ogun, Dr. Lionel Rawlins, and Regina Mousa. Students received Smith, Ensign, and Ogun’s awards on their behalf.
A special guest at the event was Ms. Maryam Uwais, Special Advisor to President Muhammadu Buhari. She said her invitation was an opportunity to really get to know how AUN is transforming the girls. “I am delighted to be here. Moreover, I am very inspired by what I have seen….This is just an awesome experience for me….This is really a worthwhile endeavor and I am very hopeful that this is just the beginning for all of you….You have come this far and you are going to go much farther because you all have some steel in you.”
Ms. Uwais said through the empowerment that they receive at AUN, the students would go on to do great things in life. She charged the young women to remain focused in their studies.
“Even though what happened to you should not have happened to anybody, I am a firm believer of everything-happens-for-a-purpose… What has happened is that a vast opportunity has been created for you all here. I expect that you will take advantage of it and be true to yourself and your faith. And just reach out for the stars.”
By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa