Woodside has unveiled its first program in Senegal through the Woodside Development Fund (WDF) with the announcement of a 12-month pilot aimed at delivering safe learning environments for more than 20,000 children in 30 schools.
Called Education and Empowerment of Children, the program is run in collaboration with a leading international non-government organisation (NGO) in Senegal, Save the Children. It will support teacher training, new teaching methodologies, and training and support in leadership and community liaison in three communities on the outskirts of Dakar, the country’s capital.
Alastair Bruce, general manager West Africa, launched the program in Dakar on 6 December. “We know that early nurturing, learning experiences and physical health from birth to age five in particular greatly influence a child’s future,” Alastair said at the launch. “I was privileged to visit two schools in Dakar recently. “It was evident at the visits that the educators share Woodside and Save the Children’s desire to create the very best education environment for children that they can.
“However, there is a shortage of trained teachers and learning resources in the country. “Helping to build the capacity of the teachers, through working with Academic Inspectors, is the key aspect of Woodside’s support in this program.” We know that if we use the opportunity to invest in the early years of a child’s life, we have the best opportunity to set children up for future learning, development and life.
It was this awareness that prompted Woodside to establish the WDF in 2014 which channels a proportion of the company’s social contribution funds to early childhood development. Research shows that high quality early childhood can deliver a return on investment of around 13%, meaning greater returns to both individuals and society in better education, health, economic and social reforms.
The Senegal program sees us partner once more with Save the Children. One of Woodside’s long-term collaborators, the NGO has been active in the West African country since 2002 and its services in health, education, child protection and child rights reach 1.5 million children in eight of Senegal’s 14 regions. Save the Children works in Senegal on this program with local organisation ENDA Jeunesse Action. Woodside acquired interests in Senegal in 2016. These include the SNE field, where Woodside is targeting first oil sometime between 2021 to 2023.
Jayne Baird, vice president Exploration Africa and the Atlantic margins, accompanied Alastair and corporate affairs adviser Cher Gibellini among a group of Woodsiders which visited two schools in Senegal prior to the launch. Cher manages the portfolio of partners in the WDF, which includes Save the Children. “The WDF is our $20 million 10-year commitment to improving outcomes of children up to eight years old,” says Cher. “Research shows that a good beginning to life in those early years can massively improve a child’s future in adulthood.” “I look forward to seeing how this program in Dakar evolves and its learnings embraced in the schools, to really see children flourish,” she said.
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