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First Lady Laura Bush visits World Education Program in Nigeria

On January 18, 2006 the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Laura Bush, visited the Model Secondary School Maitama in Abuja Municipal, Nigeria, to see the Ambassadors Girls’ Scholarship Program (AGSP) at work.

Upon her arrival at the school, Mrs. Bush was greeted by the school headmaster, Mrs. Babagoni; Nigeria Universal Basic Education Coordinator, Pr. Tahir Gidado; World Education/AGSP Regional Coordinator, Lamine Sow, and a six-year old scholar, Jumoke who presented Mrs. Bush with a bouquet of flowers. Mrs. Bush, who was accompanied by her daughter Barbara, enjoyed the performance of dancers from the school drama group, which represented all segments of the Nigeria society.

The First Lady attended a biology class with two AGSP scholars, followed by a question and answer session with 20 AGSP scholars in a classroom. The visit was an opportunity for the First Lady to get a first-hand impression and testimony from the AGSP scholars in Nigeria. In fact, five girls stood up and described how AGSP is helping them achieve their educational goals.

The session was facilitated by Hadjia Mariam Othman, AGSP project coordinator from the Federation of Muslim Women in Nigeria (FOMWAN), World Ed’s partner NGO in the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, and Nasarawa States of Nigeria.

Mrs. Bush, who was perfectly at ease, introduced her daughter to the scholars and answered their questions, including why she likes Africa and helping disadvantaged girls. The First Lady reiterated President Bush’s interest and commitment to ensuring that quality equitable basic education is provided to girls all around the world and how the President’s African Education Initiative and AGSP are contributing to that goal. The exchange ended with a poem on the importance of educating the girl child, recited by one of the scholars.

The Ambassadors Girls’ Scholarship Program (AGSP) is a component of the African Education Initiative that will provide 550,000 scholarships to school children, mostly girls, in sub-Saharan Africa. The AGSP includes mentoring programs for the children, which contribute to the social and educational development of students and communities. Thus far, 120,000 scholarships have been provided in 40 countries. Funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the program is part of the President’s African Education Initiative

World Education is implementing girl’s scholarship programs under the initiative in 15 West African countries, including Nigeria, in collaboration with local NGOs. Many of the recipients, who are typically from poor families, are physically disadvantaged or are HIV positive, will be sponsored over a period of 4-5 years, through primary and junior secondary schooling. In addition, each girl enrolled in the scholarship program is mentored and encouraged in her educational pursuits while participating in activities that focus on HIV/AIDS mitigation and prevention, and community participation and democracy. In the Federal Republic of Nigeria alone, World Education is supporting 1,250 girls in 13 states. 10 partner NGOs are helping to implement the program and are receiving capacity and institutional support from World Education.



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