By Onuwa Lucky Joseph
Sterling Bank, under the ‘sterling leadership’ it must be said, of Abubakar Suleiman, is doing things differently and in a way that reflects dynamism and an appreciation of the environment in which it is operating.
The latest demonstration of that growing in-house corporate culture was showcased with the launch of the “Grow with Sterling Initiative” that’s being done in partnership with Nexford University, Washington DC, USA.
What’s the ‘koko’ of the arrangement? Essentially that Sterling Bank would pay 65 per cent of the fees of secondary school leavers to enable them earn international undergraduate degrees under a maximum duration of three years while they are engaged by Sterling Bank to serve in specific capacities in a work-study arrangement. That is the sweet spot: they are engaged by Sterling Bank. So there’s some remuneration going on. But at the same time, the bank is subsidizing their school fees by a whopping 65% and the arrangement also involves, among other benefits, a 20% tuition discount and free enrolment on online learning platforms.
That much Temi Daley, the Bank’s Chief Human Resources Officer, volunteered in a signed statement, noting that “Grow with Sterling Initiative” is part of the Bank’s new-to-the-world opportunities for young Nigerians to have access to quality education at affordable cost while gaining cognate work experience. That is as it should be. Working while schooling is a generally accepted way of easing young people into the work force; and they come in far from green.
Even though some private universities in the country are doing a heck of a job, trying to ensure quality education in the most commodious of environments, what the Sterling initiative does is to create room for exposure so that our young folks can have the benefit of a different environment and a different way of doing things. We hope that other organisations would not just copy this initiative, but also look at how to work with tertiary schools, public or private, within the country towards achieving the same end result. The tweak might just be a short student exchange programme, or, forget the exchange; an arrangement that sees our scholars go abroad for some months or a year to experience something different even though they are essentially products of Nigeria, lock, stock and barrel.
The Sterling initiative clearly veers off the beaten path. And others can only look to improve on that.