England forward Maro Itoje is dedicated to advancing education in Nigeria and Ghana
Maro Itoje believes that education is a tool to break the “cycle of poverty,” which has led him to invest personal funds into a project aimed at aiding Nigerian schoolchildren.
The England and Saracens forward, a London native with Nigerian lineage, initially aims to positively impact the lives of 40 students in Lagos by providing support throughout their schooling journey and into college.
“Education is critical as it offers people possibilities, it provides the means to shape one’s own fate,” Itoje explained to the BBC World Service.
“Without education, people often find themselves subject to societal whims, but education empowers individuals to craft the life they envision for themselves.”
Itoje’s venture, known as the Pearl Fund, will also benefit from donations and partnerships with corporations.
The initiative’s primary goal is to ensure that orphans, fatherless children, and those in poverty can complete their primary and secondary education.
Given the World Bank’s estimate that nearly 40% of Nigeria’s population lives below the poverty line and over 10 million children are not in school, Itoje, 28, recognizes the “significant necessity” for the type of support his project aims to offer.
“The Pearl Fund is an educational scholarship aiming to accompany underprivileged Nigerian children on their academic journey,” he elaborated.
“Our plan is to support them from the onset of their primary schooling and throughout their academic careers.
“Most likely, in the absence of this kind of assistance from individuals or NGOs (non-governmental organizations), these people would remain in the cycle of poverty.”
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Itoje, holder of 67 caps for England and six for the British and Irish Lions, had his education at the esteemed Harrow school sponsored by a scholarship.
He has already set plans in motion to extend his project within Nigeria and beyond.
“We’re commencing in the Badagry region on the periphery of Lagos,” he revealed. “We are also considering implementing an additional program in Delta, which would be a university scholarship initiative.
“Alongside our partners, World Vision (a UK charity dedicated to eradicating child poverty), we aim to operate in Ghana.”
Though he was born and schooled in England, Itoje states that his upbringing was profoundly Nigerian.
“It’s inseparable from my identity. It has molded my perspective of the world and influenced my thought processes and actions,” he stated.
“It has shaped the person I am today.”
Itoje encourages England to seize opportunities
On the rugby field, Itoje clinched his fifth Premiership title with Saracens in May and will soon shift his focus to the World Cup, scheduled to kick off in France in September.
Steve Borthwick, the successor to the dismissed Eddie Jones since December, is charged with maintaining the momentum from England’s last run to the finals in Japan four years ago.
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“I’m extremely enthused,” declared Itoje. “We have a fresh coaching team, and these World Cup pre-seasons are fantastic as they allow us time to unify as a team, which we wouldn’t typically have.
“It provides us the opportunity to strengthen and coalesce, and given the infrequency of World Cups, we must seize the moment when they occur.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Maro Itoje Education Initiative
What initiative is Maro Itoje involved in?
Maro Itoje has invested in an initiative called the Pearl Fund, which is designed to support the education of children in Nigeria, particularly those who are orphans, fatherless, or living in poverty. He hopes this effort will help break the cycle of poverty.
Who is Maro Itoje?
Maro Itoje is a forward for the England and Saracens rugby teams. He was born in London to Nigerian parents. In addition to his successful rugby career, Itoje is now known for his philanthropy in Nigeria and Ghana.
Where is the initiative initially focused?
The initiative is initially focused on supporting the education of 40 pupils in Lagos, Nigeria. However, Itoje is already planning to expand his project within Nigeria and beyond, including a potential partnership with World Vision to operate in Ghana.
How is the initiative funded?
The Pearl Fund, Itoje’s project, is financed through a combination of Itoje’s personal investment, donations, and corporate partnerships.
What is the purpose of the Pearl Fund?
The Pearl Fund is an educational scholarship aiming to accompany underprivileged Nigerian children on their academic journey. The goal is to support these children from the beginning of their primary schooling and throughout their academic careers.
What is Maro Itoje’s connection to Nigeria?
Although born and educated in England, Maro Itoje has a strong Nigerian heritage, which he says has greatly influenced his worldview, thoughts, and behaviors. He has credited this heritage with shaping the man he is today.