United Bank of Africa (UBA) Foundation, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of the financial institution, has officially launched the seventh edition of its annual National Essay Competition (NEC) 2020.
The Foundation is therefore calling for entries from students of all second cycle educational institutions (SHS/TVET) in the country – noting that due to the partial closedown of schools in the country as a result of COVID-19, entries are to be made online.
NEC is part of the UBA Foundation’s educational initiative aimed at promoting reading culture, encouraging healthy intellectual competition and developing human capital, especially among second cycle students in Ghana and all other countries where it operates.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer UBA Ghana, Olalekan Balogun, in his address at the launch event which took place at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, emphasised that taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus on lives and livelihoods as well as education in general, the cash prize for the final three winners will cover their tertiary education in any African country and is pegged at US$10,000 – with the winner taking home US$5,000 as second and third get US$3,000 and US$2,000 respectively.
“The youth are the future of Africa; so if we do not invest in them now, then it is a time-bomb that is waiting to explode at the set time. And so we have to invest in them and channel their energy into doing something innovative.
“For us in UBA, we have something we preach at the bank, which is Afri-capitalism. We believe that in Africa with the capital we have in terms of natural and human resources, if we really harness them well there is no continent that can challenge us in development. So, for us, education is one of the ways we know that giving back to society will impact everyone and grow the continent,” he said.
Narrating the idea behind this year’s topic of the essay competition, he said: “You have been given the opportunity to speak at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on the challenges facing education of the African youth in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, write your speech”. He indicated that given COVID-19 has come to change the way we do things now, the ideas of young ones are need in order to know how they think and how they would handle things differently.
Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, in a speech read on his behalf commended the UBA Foundation for continued investment in Ghana’s education sector, especially the setting aside of US$10,000 in these dreadful days of COVID-19 global pandemic for the winners of NEC 2020.
“It is universally acknowledged that education is an investment in human capital and considered the principal instrument for the acquisition of requisite knowledge, skills, values and attitudes for improving the overall levels of efficiency, productivity and managerial performance of labour forces.
“Our ability to become competitive as a nation is linked with our ability to ensure that our educational systems are the best and producing the right calibre of students who can be proponents of good governance,” he emphasised.
Akpene Yankson, winner of 6th edition of the UBA-NEC and a past student of Wesley Girls SHS, called on all her juniors back in school and all other students in various Senior High Schools to take advantage of their time staying home and partake in the competition, as it comes with various opportunities even beyond the cash prize.