First Bank of Nigeria Limited has developed different products that support schools operating in Nigeria. AMAKA IFEAKANDU looks at the products and their impact on the nation’s educational system.
Globally, basic education is seen as a panacea for solving problem of illiteracy, religious insecurity and political servitude.
It is also described as the fuel to a better society. Without doubt development of a country lies solely in its educational system. The high standard of quality education in a given nation will give rise to improved changes in the nation’s administration.
For a country to thrive, much attention should be given to the educational sector as future leaders are products of a qualitative educational system.
Importance of education in an economy
Education is a foundation for the development and progress of any society. It is the basis upon which the whole building of human development stands. Getting proper education is necessary for success in life just like food is important for the healthy human body. The good education is constructive in nature and very helpful in future life.
Apart from promoting equality of prospect, education is a central cohesive source of support and stability in the development of countries. There is need for developing countries to focus on the development of high valued educational system because a sound education system works effectively for sustainable development of the economy as well as society.
It is a known fact that stable economy of a country is closely related to education.
Education not only keeps well informed about rights, but also responsibilities of a person. It will make the person more responsible, and in turn be able to work for the wellness of others.
Why government funds education sector.
The government’s spending on education is necessary to increase the number of skilled labour to fulfil labour requirement in the economic sectors. Allocation of funds to education industry by the government helps reduce actual education cost paid by students as consumers and education institute as producer.
Such fund will help to ensure the good quality of learning by recruiting qualified teachers and experts from relevant fields. The allocation of subsidy also includes the spending of lecturer’s training scheme to improve the quality of teaching among lecturers through more involvement of skilled instructor.
In addition, the government’s spending on education is also financed in capital asset such as allocation of equipment for teaching.
First Bank supports for schools
FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s most valuable banking brand, has been on the frontline supporting schools with educational products and solutions to boost the sector.
The bank has developed different products to support funding of schools activities. The product tagged FirstEdu comprises of the FirstEdu Loan and FirstEdu Portal. The bank also has operational vehicle loan.
FirstBank FirstEdu loan
Apart from government providing funds to support education industry, the FirstBank’s FirstEdu loan offers short-term finance to private pre-primary, primary and secondary schools/A level educational institutions.
The product offers opportunity for private schools to access flexible funding to meet the cash flows, replace old furniture and equipment or assets, buy fairly-used school buses, as well as refurbish dilapidated buildings and classroom blocks.
The product is available to private schools owners who require extra funds for the smooth running of their school operations.
The product helps school owners/proprietors to bridge the no-income gap between terms.
The loan is a convenient means for schools to finance their working capital needs.
The loan is targeted at all private schools duly registered with CAC with 90 days to 12 months tenor.
The bank said interested schools will access maximum loan amounting to N20 million, while schools with CAC registration but without Ministry of Education approval can access up to N2 million for the period of 90 days.
The loan will also be used for financing of new or fairly used operational vehicles for schools and asset acquisition of up to N20 million for a period of 24 months.
The product enables the schools to access facility with no tangible collateral, apart from domiciliation of school fees account with the bank.
According to the bank, before accessing the loan, the school must have been in account relationship with any bank for a minimum of 12 months and the school must have a minimum student population of 100.
The school seeking the loan is expected to provide evidence of Government Approval of school, School Memorandum and Articles of Association (MEMART) where applicable, as well as documents showing how long school has been in the business and the number of students.
FirstBank FirstEdu Portal
FirstEdu portal would enable tertiary educational institutions to manage academic, administrative, professional, logistics and payment challenges.
The bank said the basis for its robustness is to take the stress of logistics, administrative and payment challenges off the institutions, as they focus on meeting their year-long, medium and long-term objectives.
The bank listed the product’s features and benefits to “include e-learning, virtual library and facilitation of exchange programmes with foreign educational institutions; academic and student events/time-table/calendar management; school fees payment via the Internet; online information and result checking; and an interactive community forum between students and teachers.
“The product does not require licensing, installation and maintenance cost. It affords applicants all over the country & abroad, the opportunity to enroll from the comfort of their homes or any location around the world.”
The bank further says the product “offers students easier access to quality education and opportunities for foreign exchange programmes. Students can pay school fees on FirstEduPortal using Debit cards such as. InterSwitch cards, scratch cards or via any bank branch.”
Operational Vehicle Loan
The Operational Vehicle Loan is targeted at registered businesses. It allows the entrepreneur to acquire brand new vehicles for the day-to-day operation of the business.
Organisations can take advantage of this facility to purchase school buses in the case of school proprietors and even upscale their staff welfare schemes through provision of staff buses. The product terms and conditions are competitive.
Other supports to School
Beyond these, FirstBank is at the forefront of promoting virtual learning, whilst exposing not just school children but individuals of all ages to various e-learning initiatives, designed to promote innovation and skills development on emerging technologies through focus areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Coding, Cloud, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Data Science and Analytics, and Cybersecurity.
In achieving this, the Bank has collaborated with Lagos State Government, IBM and Curious Learning to ensure the e-learning initiative swiftly moves across the country to school children and individuals with the need to promote the pursuit of knowledge, irrespective of age.
To cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the bank, with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) finances low-cost private schools at a single digit interest rate.
The bank also entered into partnership with the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) to finance member schools at a highly competitive rate.
This reduces the cost of borrowing to the customer and eliminates the challenges posed by the provision of additional demanding collaterals.
First Bank’s view
FirstBank’s Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, Mr. Chuma Ezirim, while speaking on the Bank’s support for schools in a statement, said: “At FirstBank, we recognize the indelible roles the educational sector plays in promoting national economic development and we are delighted to support schools with collateral free educational solutions to meet various needs and projects to advance to the next level.
“As schools proceed with the new term, we enjoin interested schools to visit the nearest branch or the Bank’s website for more information and encourage everyone to access our e-learning driven initiatives to keep learning and get exposed to various opportunities to stay ahead in today’s technologically advanced world.”