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ExxonMobil staff give back through youth mentoring program

ExxonMobil upstream affiliates staff in Nigeria have committed N8.35 million towards the company’s Read To Me (RTM) project, which aims to instil a reading culture and improving the literacy level of children in Lagos state primary schools.

The project is a three-year mentoring program which pairs ExxonMobil employees with children enrolled in four elementary schools in the Victoria Island Primary School Campus – Victoria Island Primary School, Federal Housing Primary School, Awoyaya Primary School and Ansarurdeen Primary School – opposite the Company’s head office in Lagos.

Since the programme was inaugurated in April, 2015 with 64 ExxonMobil employees as volunteers, the Read To Me programme has enrolled approximately 150 school children starting from primary 4, at the ratio of 2 mentors to 5 children. Each mentor coaches and monitors their pupils’ improvement through primary 6.

With the support of the Ministry of Education, State Universal Basic Education Board and Eti-Osa Local Government Education Authority, the RTM project is billed to introduce the children to a digital reading platform that will improve their reading capacity and vocabulary by exposing them to current texts and literature; and to expose them to mentors, life coaches and positive role models that will aid their development.

The Read To Me program builds on the success of the ExxonMobil affiliate-sponsored Back to School programmel; In October 2014, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Offshore East) Limited (EEPNL) sponsored United For Kids (UKF) “Back To School programme (BTS)” with N2.5 million. This involved provision of school bags, notebooks and writing materials to primary school pupils. Among the beneficiaries were the 4 primary schools in Victoria Island primary school campus.

Commenting on the RTM project success so far, UKF Programme Coordinator, Aameenah stated that, “When you look at students like Audu Ilailu who started the program finding it extremely difficult to pronounce three letter words but can now spell and pronounce 15 letter words, he surprised his mentor by taking the first position in grade 3 during the last RTM spelling bee competition. Stories like that of Audu encourage us when we feel like giving up. Also, the testimonies by the class teachers that RTM has been a major vehicle in improving the literacy of the students and that most of the students that have now improved where formally students they would have left leave aside gives us the nudge to continue.”

The program owes its achieved milestones to the participating mentors while several mentors have shown remarkable consistency, the programme beckons others to get involved. Attendance will not only reduce the added responsibility on other mentors but will spur the children’s interest and bring the program closer to its goal and objectives.