Posted by Rod Frazier
The Feed and Read Program of Yola, Nigeria is an initiative started by former Dickinson College President, Margee Ensign in 2015.  Margee was President of The American University of Nigeria (AUN) at the time.  The program focuses on improving the literacy and numeracy among the most vulnerable children of Yola, Nigeria.  There are over 18 million children in Nigeria that are out of school.  Yola, which is the capital of the Adamawa state is estimated to have about 150,000 to 200,000 children out of school.  Most are boys, but about 35% are girls. The program was initially started for young boys.  They were taught how to read and to be clean and neat.  They were also given one hot meal a day.  The program resulted in stopping many teenage boys from joining the militant Boko Haram.
 
In 2016, girls were added to the program.  According to Dr. Margee Ensign, “When you educate girls, everything in the country changes – infant mortality declines, infectious diseases aren’t going to be spread, people have a smaller family which allows these women to go out and make the change that is needed”.
 
In 2022, Retired dentist, Dr. Roderick Frazier, then President-Elect of the Rotary Club of Carlisle found out about the program.  Rotary Clubs fund humanitarian projects every year, mainly local, but occasionally international.  Dr. Frazier was looking for a project for his club to support.  He contacted Dr. Ensign at AUN.  She gave him more particulars about the project and how his club could support it.  Dr. Frazier loved the idea and concept of helping these vulnerable children.
 
The program provides a basic education equivalent to our 3rd grade.  Students are assessed before the program begins.  They are also assessed two more times during the program year to determine their competency.  The program is taught in English (Nigeria’s official language is English, though there are over 500 languages and dialects spoken there).  The children are taught how to read and write, and basic arithmetic.  They are also taught civics and life skills.  They are provided with one hot meal a day, which may be the only hot meal they ever get.  This meal supplements their poor nutrition.  Boys are divided into cohorts of 25 students and the same for girls.  They are taught by students and faculty of the University.  A local woman cooks the meals for the children.  The program last about 9 months with a 4 week break for Ramadan.
The cost of the program for one student was $396 US.  The Rotary Club of Carlisle provided scholarships for 12 students to attend the program.  Funding came from the club and was matched by Rotary District 7390.  As of June, this year due to inflation, the cost has risen to $406.28 US per child.  The staff of AUN would love to have uniforms provided for the children.  This would cost about $15.00 per boy.  The cost per girl is about $18 since girls must wear long dresses as dictated by their culture.
 
The American University of Nigeria has a capacity to accommodate 500 boys and 120 girls.  This past year they were only able to admit a cohort of 25 boys.  A cohort of 25 girls were selected, but their funding source fell through, and their classes were canceled.
 
It’s a great program that is sorely in need of funding.  Any questions about the program may be directed to Dr. Roderick Frazier (rlf2thdr@aol.com) of Carlisle.