FEATURE ARTICLE


Dr. Ugorji O. UgorjiThursday, May 15, 2003
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odoziobodo@winning.com
Princeton, NJ, USA


CLIMBING JACOB'S LADDER: WORLD IGBO CONGRESS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM


uring its last Board of Directors meeting, ably and effectively hosted by ICAN in Dallas, Texas, the World Igbo Congress, Inc. (WIC) approved the scholarship scheme designed by its Education Committee. In helping present the scheme, Dr. Gladys Nwosu, a member of the committee, shared with the Board that the design allows for individuals and/or organizations to sponsor the scheme or part/s of it, yearly or permanently. I am writing now to present the scheme to the general public, with the hope that individuals and organizations who share the committee's commitment to the future generations of Ala Igbo, may consider sponsoring all or part of the scholarship program.

For the Igbo, education is second nature, even before the arrival of the visitors from Europe. It was designed, purposeful, and sustained, to transmit such knowledge and skills that were necessary not just for the survival of the people, but for the mastery of their environment and everything in and around it. When the visitors from Europe arrived with a different set of knowledge and skills, the Igbo embraced the new frontier, not without some hesitation and apprehension over its impact on cherished systems of knowing. This embrace has metamorphosed into the situation today where Imo State alone reportedly has more university candidates each year than all of Northern Nigeria put together. I will hasten to add that Arabic and Eastern systems of knowledge, which many in the North embrace, are just as valid and sound educational pursuits.

However, in the past twenty years or so, something has gone terribly awry with the once valued educational standard in Nigeria, and all of Nigeria, have been worse off for it. It is not my intention in this piece to go into why and how education has been destroyed in the most significant modern Black nation. Nor do I posit that the scholarship program instituted by WIC will solve all the problems. Rather, I respectfully submit that with baby steps, such as the ones taken in this scheme, we aim to at least make statements in support of a beleaguered enterprise. We further aim to praise and commend apparent excellence and merit in the face of monumental, orchestrated odds.

WIC SECONDARY SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS: WIC shall award 21 Secondary School Scholarships: Three (3) each in Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers (at N10, 000 each), for the JS1 entry class. Total cost for this scholarship each year, at the current award amount of N10,000 shall be N210, 000.

Criterion for selection: For ease of administration, to ensure as much objectivity as possible in the selection process, and in support of meritocracy, the only criterion shall be the results of the Common Entrance examination each year. The highest Common Entrance Examination score in each Senatorial District of each state shall be the automatic winner of the scholarship award. In the case of a tie, a multiple choice test or an essay contest developed and administered by the WIC Education Committee shall be used to break the tie.

WIC UNIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS:

WIC shall award 21 University Scholarships: Three (3) each in Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers (at N40, 000 each), for the first year class. Total cost for this scholarship each year, at the current award amount of N40,000, shall be N840,000.

Criterion for selection: For ease of administration, to ensure as much objectivity as possible in the selection process, and in support of meritocracy, the only criterion shall be the results of the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations each year. The highest JAMB score in each Senatorial District of each state shall be the automatic winner of the scholarship award. In the case of a tie, a multiple choice test or an essay contest developed and administered by the WIC Education Committee shall be used to break the tie.

WIC SCHOLASTIC APTITUDE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:

WIC shall award seven (7) Scholastic Achievement Awards to seven (7) High School students in the U.S., one each from Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers (at $500 each). Total cost for this scholarship each year, at the current award amount of $500, shall be $3,500.

Criterion for selection: For ease of administration, to ensure as much objectivity as possible in the selection process, and in support of meritocracy, the only criterion shall be the results of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) taken in the year of the award. The highest SAT score in each of the seven states, among those Igbo students whose parents submit their scores to the WIC Education Committee, shall be the automatic winner of the scholarship award. In the case of a tie, a multiple choice test or essay contest developed and administered by the committee shall be used to break the tie.

WIC IGBO LANGUAGE ESSAY CONTEST:

As a matter of commitment to the survival and development of the Igbo language in the Diaspora, WIC has established this annual contest targeted at youngsters age 13 to 19. The winner will receive $500 in prize from WIC, and an opportunity to read his/her essay at the WIC convention. It is open to all Igbo youngsters resident in the United States.

The contest topic for this year is: AHAMEFULE: Kowa ka isiri ghota okpurukpu okwu a.

Criteria for selection: The essay should be written in standard Igbo, typewritten, double-spaced, and no more than three pages. Essay will be judged on (1) Igbo grammar, (2) Creative use of language, and (3) Treatment of both the literary and metaphorical meanings of the topic. Essays must be submitted to The WIC Education Committee at P. O. Box 3295, Princeton, New Jersey 08543, no later than June 30, 2003. The winner will be announced by July 31, 2003.

RATIONALE AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES

According to the Chairman of WIC, Dr. Kalu Kalu Diogu, one of the charges against the umbrella organization is that it does not appear to do much. There can be no better model of leading than by doing. With a reputation that is increasing daily, and a name that gives it a global persona, if not a global presence, it is long overdue for the World Igbo Congress to get involved in the education of the next generations. It is in this spirit that this scholarship program is being instituted. It starts off rather modestly, with the goal of becoming much more expansive in supporting scholarship in every significant field of human knowledge.

The number 21 (twenty-one) in the scholarships is based on three senatorial zones in each of the seven states where the Igbo are indigenous. The number three (3) is used simply as a starting point; it may be increased in the future as funds become available. In the case of Delta, and Rivers states, WIC is of the view that it should not matter whether the highest scores in each of the three Senatorial Districts identify themselves as Igbo or not, as long as they are indigenes of the states.

LOOKING FOR SPONSORS

We hereby invite individuals, organizations, and business enterprises who share the goals of the committee's work to consider becoming a sponsor or sponsors of any or all of the awards stipulated above. One may choose to sponsor any of the awards just for one year, without any commitment beyond the one year, or you may choose to sponsor any and all of the awards permanently. Sponsors of the awards shall be published each year, along with the recipients; and they shall be invited to participate in the presentation ceremonies. Sponsors shall be accepted on a first come, first accepted basis, with no regard for the ethnicity or religion of the sponsor or sponsoring group. Once a Permanent Sponsor has been accepted for any of the awards, that award would no longer be available for Yearly Sponsors. Donations, which can be made to the tax-exempt World Igbo Congress Foundation, Inc., are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Options for sponsorships are as follows:

WIC Secondary School Scholarship Awards:

If you want to sponsor this part of the program yearly, we are asking for $2,000 for each year you choose to sponsor it. If you want your name or any other name of your choosing to be attached permanently as the sponsor of this part of the program, we are asking for $25,000.

WIC University Scholarship Awards:

To make it easier for potential sponsors, we have broken this segment of the program down by states. Thus, one may choose to sponsor this part just for a particular state, yearly, or permanently (see below for amounts).

Or one may choose to sponsor the entire segment yearly (for $10,500) or permanently (for a one time donation or commitment to donate $150,000).

WIC Scholastic Aptitude Achievement Award:

This is the segment of the scholarship that is designed for students here in the United States. We have also broken it down to make it easier for potential sponsors to adopt one state or the entire segment, yearly or permanently.

A one time donation of or commitment to donate $75,000 would endow and sponsor the entire Scholastic Aptitude Awards permanently, and the sponsor's name or a name chosen by the sponsor would be attached to the Scholastic Aptitude Awards permanently).

WIC Igbo Language Essay Contest (Yearly: $500; Permanently: $10,000)

WIC Computer Labs

Finally, let me mention here WIC's resolve to set up Computer Labs in identified universities across Ala Igbo, to be coordinated by the Education Committee. WIC requests from its affiliates all over the world, and from interested individuals to donate computers to the WIC Foundation, which will be used to set up the labs. If you get the computers for us, we will pay for shipment from your address to our storage facilities, and onward to Nigeria. Or you may donate cash and designate it to the purchase of one or more computers for this purpose. All donors (individuals and organizations) shall have their names emblazoned on the computers by WIC and a plaque indicating the same will be placed in the labs in appreciation. And as stated, the value of all the computers are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

It shall be a delight to hear from anyone or any group who is interested in sponsoring any segment of this program. Certificates of Appreciation shall be issued to all donors by WIC, including sponsors of the scholarship. You may reach me at the e-mail address above, or you may call me at (609) 851 9484.

Ugorji O. Ugorji is the Chairman of the Education Committee of World Igbo Congress, Inc. He writes from P. O. Box 3295, Princeton, New Jersey 08543-3295

Dr. Ugorji O. Ugorji, Ed.D., is the author of Tall Drums: Portraits of Nigerians Who Are Changing America (Sungai Books, Princeton, NJ), among other books.