INTERNATIONAL AID FUND FOR CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL ORGANISATIONS 2020 design @ Oluwadara Omotoso © Five Cowries Art Initiative

International Aid Fund for Cultural and Educational Organisations: Introduction of the Nigerian Participants


Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut and other intermediary organisations involved in international culture and education policy have teamed up with partner foundations to expand activities addressing structural needs in this time of global crisis.

The collaboration led to a call for innovative art and education projects around the world. Out of hundreds of applications, two Nigerian organisations, Five Cowries Education Initiative (Lagos) and Potters Gallery Initiative (Abuja) were among selected organisations.  
 
Five Cowries Education Initiative leverages the arts to make learning more inclusive, accessible and fun for children and young adults. The organisation, co-founded by the muralist, educator and children’s book author Polly Alakija and cultural entrepreneur Yemisi Mokuolu, aims to complement the curriculum by fusing the ‘3Rs’ (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) with the ‘4Cs’ (Critical-Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity). 

  • Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, Lagos © Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative
  • Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, Lagos © Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative
  • Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, Lagos © Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative
  • Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative, Lagos © Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative
According to Mokuolu, Five Cowries works closely with artists, art teachers and educators. “We build the capacity of educators using art skills such as drama, dance, visual arts, poetry and puppetry to enhance teaching, the teaching environment and ultimately the Nigerian school curriculum," she said. "A key part of our work also entails providing educators with skills to help raise awareness of complex local and global issues such as climate change, gender equality, mental health, democracy and food rights.”
 
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left schools closed since March 2020, Five Cowries is engaged more than ever before. The organisation strives to reach the approximately 60% of children across Nigeria unable to complete secondary education and the 25% who drop out at primary level. 
 
“Accessing this fund means that we will be able to maintain our activities and create an e-learning platform to widen our reach and enable more educators in their endeavours to support community and home based learning,” said Mokuolu. 
 

The founders of Potters Gallery Initiative, which was founded as a social enterprise and an arts organisation aimed to strengthen the voice of people living with disabilities, expressed surprise at the selection. Being the only arts organisation for people living with disabilities in Nigerian and West Africa, the organisation showcases the creative works of its members across fields like literature, visual art, filmmaking, dance and choreography. Over the years, the Potters Gallery Initiative has sought a vigorous redefinition of society’s perception of people living with disability.
  • Potters Gallery Initiative, Abuja © Potters Gallery Initiative
  • Potters Gallery Initiative, Abuja © Potters Gallery Initiative
According to Donald Unanka, coordinator of the organisation, the grant will be channeled into setting up a studio for the disabled. This, Unanka says, will improve the quality of works as well as the market value of art products created by members of the organisation.
 
The grant will also be used to set up a special digital arts festival for the disabled in Nigeria. This event will coincide with the International Day for persons living with disabilities.  

Funded by the International Relief Fund of the German Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut, and other partners: www.goethe.de/relieffund