As the country marks the 2019 Children’s Day, leading Nigerian Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) has launched a nationwide initiative, tagged #BeatTheDistance, to improve educational outcomes for children in rural communities by easing the difficulties they face with mobility to school and back. Through the initiative, the Bank is providing students in remote parts of the country with bicycles to reduce the time and energy they expend in getting to school whilst helping to boost their attendance and focus on academics.
One of the biggest barriers to education for millions of children in Nigeria’s rural communities is often the physical act of getting to school, which could be as far as 10 kilometres away from home. The challenge of covering such distance twice every day on foot, coupled with the responsibility of doing chores in the morning, significantly curtails school attendance rate, increases the chances of students dropping out, and hampers academic performance. By providing them with bicycles, the Bank aims to empower the children most affected by these challenges beat the distance, not just to school, but between their present realities and immense potential.
Organized as part of the GTBank CSR Action for Rural Empowerment Scheme (GTBank CARES), the initial stage of the #BeatTheDistance initiative will focus on children in 20 rural communities across the Taraba, Enugu and Ondo States. Jerry Hannatu, a student of Government Technical Training School, Jalingo, is one of the first beneficiaries of the initiative. Before receiving the bicycle from GTBank, he had to trek for an hour and half to get to school. Now, his 10 kilometre journey to school takes him about a quarter of that time. Jerry and other beneficiaries like him will now be able to spend less time travelling to school and more time in the classroom improving their academic performance and attaining the skills and knowledge to reach their full potential.
Commenting on the Bank’s #BeatTheDistance initiative, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, said; “Children are our greatest hope for a better future, and it is our duty to ensure that every child has access to quality education regardless of their socioeconomic background or geographic location. As an institution that is passionate about empowering young people to reach their full potential, this initiative reflects our commitment to building a society where distance is no longer a barrier to education for any child, and in every community.”
He further stated that “At GTBank, we will continue to leverage our unique capabilities and broad networks to help people and communities thrive. Whether we are intervening in public education, investing in underserved communities, promoting the Arts or working to protect the environment, we are constantly looking for creative and impactful ways to touch lives and give back to society.”
GTBank is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run African financial institutions across its subsidiary countries and serves as a role model within the financial service industry due to its bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service quality and innovation. The Bank, through its clearly defined Corporate Social Responsibility, champions education for all, empowers under-served people and communities, expands access to healthcare, promotes African Art and advocates for environmental protection. In 2018 alone, the Bank carried out more than one hundred CSR projects across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and supporting some of the most underserved communities in the country.