The programme was one of three that Shell featured at the Fair, and many visitors, among them the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, acknowledged its impressive contribution to educational development in the Niger Delta.

Other initiatives exhibited were Shell Questacon Science Circus which takes interactive science and technology education to regional and remote areas in Australia, and World Challenge, a global competition which recognises businesses that demonstrate enterprise and innovation at community level.

“We’re delighted by the reception our Cradle-to-Career programme received in Geneva,” Shell’s Vice President for Safety, Environment, Sustainable Development and Communications in Sub Saharan Africa, Tony Attah, said: “We are not only investing in the future of 60 children, but also helping to lay a solid foundation for the development of the Niger Delta and Nigeria.”

The UN Innovation Fair took place during the annual Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) meeting which focused this year on ‘Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in education’. The forum provided an opportunity for organisations from around the world to showcase innovative practices, approaches and projects in education.

In addition to the UN Secretary General, visitors to the Shell stand included Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, ambassadors from various countries as well as international and regional organisations, academia, and officials of ECOSOC and UNESCO as well as The World Bank. They commended Shell’s “silent” but impressive contribution towards meeting the Millennium Development goal on Education, encouraging gender balance and focus on educating the girl child. They urged Shell to support its operating units around the world to contribute to “early learning” initiatives and promote education.

Parallel to the exhibition were high-level ministerial sessions and policy dialogues on various education themes and  implementation of agreed goals and commitments.

Cradle-to-Career is a comprehensive scholarship programme that enables bright but indigent pupils from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states to have quality six-year secondary education in two top schools in Port Harcourt. On performing well, they will be absorbed into the SPDC university scholarship scheme. Cradle-to-Career was launched last year, and latest reports indicate the children are doing very well.

SPDC began supporting education in the 1960s with a scholarship scheme. At any one time, SPDC scholarships support some 13,650 secondary school and 3,400 university students in Nigeria, many of them from the Niger Delta.