Since 2015, Dr. Nancy Autin, associate professor in Educational Foundations & Leadership in the College of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has helped to establish and direct the Raphael & Evelyn Education Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to build schools in rural Nigeria. Dr. Autin is the Vice President and Board of Directors Chair for the organization.
The foundation was inspired by two Nigerian educators, Raphael and Evelyn Ofodum, who worked as school administrators for underserved children in the southeastern state of Anambra. The Raphael & Evelyn Education Foundation is dedicated to bettering the lives of the people of Nigeria by providing educational advancement opportunities and leadership development for students in their local communities; and with its vision, the foundation aims to provide diverse educational environments that build the capacity for self development, and which help to improve the socio-economic conditions of Nigeria.
In the summer of 2017, Dr. Autin traveled to Nigeria with Rev. Fr. Anselm Ofodum, Ph.D., who is the President and Founder of the organization, and after whose parents the foundation takes its name. There she worked to plan and oversee the breaking of ground on their first school in the rural town of Orsumoghu.
Since her trip, building on the school has progressed swiftly, and is nearing completion, with an anticipated opening date of fall 2019. When the schools opens, it will serve elementary age children, but additions for middle and high school students are projected to be complete by 2023.
With a population of almost 200 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and the seventh most populous country on earth today. Of those 200 million, about 90 million children are school age, the third largest population of school age children in the world.
Nigeria is also abundant in many natural resources, such as petroleum, coal, iron ore, and other minerals, and these natural resources along with robust financial and communications sectors have allowed for the development of the largest economy on the African continent.
Despite its large population, ample natural resources, and substantial economy, the state of education in Nigeria is one of crisis. Schools in Nigeria are at the mercy of a political system that suffers from high levels of instability, and this instability often causes schools to shut down from lack of funding for months on end. With a literacy rate of only about 60 percent, the neglect of education in Nigeria demands critical action as the country’s youth are deprived of a consistent education. The Raphael & Evelyn Education Foundation endeavors to bridge the educational gap for some of the most disadvantaged children in the nation.
To help raise awareness of the gravity of the condition of education in Nigeria, Dr. Autin is featured in a short film which calls attention to the current plight of children in Nigerian schools, and documents the building of the first school for the foundation. The film was selected to show at the 2018 University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Film Festival, and in mid-November Dr. Autin will travel to the convention in Houston for its presentation.
Learn more about Dr. Autin's work with the Raphael & Evelyn Education Foundation.