On the 5th of February, a photo of a little girl doing her home work with First City Monument Bank (FCMB)’s ATM light surfaced online and went viral. The little girl identified as Dele has gone to the ATM in Ondo City as darkness has taken over her environs, and the ATM proved to be the only source of light that could enable the vision she needed to do her homework.
The viral tweet caught the attention of FCMB and the bank declared her wanted.
We are inspired by Dele's determination to study. It's great our ATM Gallery could light her books for the evening, but we would love to do more to support. Can you please help us find Dele? Please RT until it gets to someone who knows her.#DeleDetermination #FCMB #MyBankAndI https://t.co/eBoYa9nVxN
— FCMB (@MyFCMB) February 9, 2020
On Thursday, the bank issued a heartwarming statement that got everyone talking.
“FCMB is pleased to announce the award of full scholarship to Fathia Dele Rasheed, the 7 years old girl who was recently spotted using lights from the ATM Gallery at our branch in Ondo City to do her homework. The scholarship will cover Dele’s education from her current primary Grade 1 to higher education level in a Nigerian institution.
“We commend Dele’s determination, as well as that of other young Nigerians just like her, who aspire to a better life and are relentless in their pursuit of it.
“As a caring and inclusive Brand, FCMB will continue to empower individuals and communities by championing and executing initiatives that enrich the life of Nigerians,” the FCMB’s statement said.
Fathia has become fortunate beyond everybody’s imagination. Her determination to finish her homework has got her a scholarship she didn’t see coming, and took a load of financial responsibility off her parents’ shoulders.
On the other hand, FCMB has made a difference where it is uncommon. This style of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has an inspiring impact that goes beyond a push for brand recognition. It came with a touch of humanity that may be replicated in the future to impact other aspiring youngsters.
But beneath the celebrations and encomiums that have followed the development, Nigerians see hurting truth; it is a systemic failure that resulted in poor infrastructures like poor electricity supply that has kept many in dense darkness and stymie their aim to do better in their endeavors.
In the past, corporations had made provisions to help students to attain their academic goals. In 1948, UAC introduced the Secondary School Scholarship Scheme, to foster students of its serving and retired employees. The Nigerian National Petroleum commission (NNPC) introduced the annual national quiz competition for secondary schools across the country. These gestures were seen as encouragement, opportunity for students to overcome the hindrances in their pursuit of education.
As time progressed, the vacuum in the education sector of Nigeria kept getting bigger that these corporations started seeing reasons to do more. These companies budget a handful of money to help schools in different host communities where there is a wide gap in lack of education facilities as a result of government’s negligence. From banks to every other private institution, the engagement in fostering school activities became popular that it is gradually becoming a requirement.
This is evidence that CSR has taken the place of the government in education. A study conducted by Thistle Praxis, a consultancy outfit said: “The past few decades have seen a steady evolution of the practice of CSR from a form of corporate philanthropy to a more structured and all-encompassing model…there is reason to believe that there has been an increased interest in CSR, and that Nigerian corporate establishments have begun to take CSR seriously.”
Specialists in education believe that these companies are shouldering education responsibilities because the government has failed to measure up to UNESCO’s standard that encourages allocating 26% of the country’s budget for education.
While it has become acceptably the case in the education sector, other issues of infrastructure happening outside the academic environment has begun to expand the corporate social responsibility of these companies beyond the school corridors. Dele was at the FCMB’s ATM because there was no light at home when she needed to do her homework for school the next day. She was only discovered because someone took a picture of her while she was at it and posted it online.
While the little girl showed determination to succeed by going extra mile to do her school work, people are saying that she is not alone; there are millions of school kids like her across the country whose only wish is light and other basic amenities to succeed in education. But her story, like in other cases, exposes a system decay that has gone from a government’s failure to a collective shame.