With a network of around 775 Fellows from 96 countries specializing in a diverse array of professional fields, many Atlas Corps Alumni and current Fellows are making inspiring progress with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is time to celebrate the achievements of our amazing network and share advice on how we can all do our part to protect and support each other.
Today we want to talk with our Alumna Patience (Class 33, Nigeria) who is supporting low-income students in the middle-belt region of Nigeria with her organization, Custodians of African Literature (COAL). Considering that only 20% of Nigerians who have completed primary school can read, this initiative is extremely important in improving the overall literacy rate in Nigeria and granting these young children a better quality of life.
Thank you Patience for everything that you do to ensure access to quality education and create a better future. We wish you all the best with this impactful work!
Name: Patience Andrew
Home Country: Nigeria
Current Organization: Custodians of African Literature (COAL)
Role at current organization: Co-Founder & Executive Director
Social Issues that you have worked with: Equality Education, Youth Empowerment
Tell us about your current projects?
I am currently engaged in the COAL Literary School Club project aimed at improving literacy and numeracy skills of children and young adults in public schools in low-income communities of middle-belt Nigeria. In most low-income communities of Nigeria, even after several years in schooling, millions of children still cannot read, write or do basic math because of the poor access to quality education especially for children already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability. I see this as a great injustice to children and young people and a violation of their right to quality education. According to a World Bank report in 2018, only 20% of young Nigerians who have completed primary (or elementary) school can read.
With a network of over 20 volunteers, I designed the COAL Literary school club project and engaged my team by organizing weekly reading and writing sessions with 300 children and young adults at two public schools, namely Government Secondary School Giring and Rot Nonrong, in Jos, Plateau State Nigeria. Our quest is to bridge the education inequity gap through books and positive youth and adult partnership. We introduce fictional books in line with the interests of our beneficiaries to ignite their passion for learning. We also do this by developing libraries so our beneficiaries can have access to diversified books. We are currently in the first phase of the project and through private donations, we’ve been able to develop libraries in the two public schools and equipped each library with 1,000 books
Why is it important for you to work with these social issues?
I am passionate about education and youth development because these two are relevant to sustainable development in Nigeria. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. About 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school. It was estimated in 2018 that about 70 million Nigerian citizens cannot read and write and lack basic skills for modern living.
This data is detrimental to the social and economic future of my country, and as a child raised by a single mother from a very low-income family, I understand the brunt of poverty and how it influences negative actions among young people. I was however fortunate to proceed to school and earned a college degree becoming the first in my family to achieve a college education. Since leaving college six years ago, I have dedicated my life to social change within the non-profit, media and creative sectors in Nigeria, creating expressive platforms for youth and supporting the access to quality education for children in my community. I am able to do all of these things because I was fortunate enough to receive an education, and I want to create more educational platforms for children and youth in my community to broaden the scope of opportunities that will be available for them in the future.
How has Atlas Corps contributed to your professional/ personal accomplishments?
The Atlas Corps Fellowship played a vital role in my professional quest, it allowed me the opportunity to explore the power of youth voice in the social change sector while working at my host organization. The Fellowship also broadened my global perspective on issues shaping the world, and most importantly, it made me an active contributor to global change and youth development through social change initiatives developed in my line of work.
What message would you like to send to individuals who are thinking of supporting Atlas Corps?
Atlas Corps Fellowship is shaping the world by investing in the best social change leaders from around the world, and the impact of its work is felt by thousands of other people who may not be aware of the Fellowship but are touched by the work of Fellows who return to their home countries to transmit lessons learnt from the U.S in developing their communities.
Atlas Corps Fellows continue to serve in the U.S. and remote, and we reaffirm our commitment to building a network of global leaders, even- and especially- in these times. We need your help to overcome the operational challenges that Atlas Corps faces so we can continue our critical work of training the social change leaders that this world urgently needs. As a special initiative, donations of $100+ will be matched! Will you support our Fellows?