The wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has warned parents and guardians against using their children and wards as hawkers, adding that such constitutes child abuse.
Bolanle, who spoke at the inauguration of an initiative – Project Bright Steps – to distribute shoes and socks to 175,000 public primary school pupils in Lagos State by her foundation, Hope for Women in Nigeria Initiative (HOFOWEM), said parents should send their children to school rather than use them for child labour.
She said the decision to distribute shoes and socks to pupils was one of the ways to motivate them, boost their self-esteem and help them to appreciate their self-worth.
She said aside the positive impact the initiative would have on the education of the pupils, it would also encourage local production of shoes, and consequently boost the economy.
“It is disheartening to know that majority of pupils in public primary schools lacked shoes and socks to wear to school. The intervention of HOFOWEM is aimed at addressing such heart-breaking development.
“Walking without shoes has resulted in many children getting sick and losing their toes to bacterial infections and other life-threatening diseases. It is essential for these children to wear shoes. Wearing shoes is not a luxury, but a necessity,” Bolanle said.
She added that HOFOWEM was founded to touch lives.
She added that the desire to change lives had accounted for other initiatives for over 230 pregnant women who were given baby essentials and lectured on healthy lifestyle, as well as the ongoing scholarship scheme aimed at funding some bright students in public secondary schools in the state.
The state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, said he was happy that his wife had taken it upon herself to empower pupils of public primary schools, adding that it was in line with the vision of the state government to make education accessible to all.
Akinwunmi, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Oluranti Adebule, said his administration recently earmarked N10bn for the upgrade of infrastructure in public schools, calling on other public-spirited individuals and organisations to take a cue from HOFOWEM since the government could not do it alone.
The Chief Executive Officer of HOFOWEM, Ms. Oyefunke Adeleke, said the foundation’s main goal was to transform lives, adding that the distribution of shoes and socks was one of the ways to make a difference.