Art plays a significant role in a child’s development. The more expressive a child is, the more creative and knowledgeable the child becomes. “Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” When a child can express themselves through art, it develops the child’s imagination.


The Five Cowries initiative was launched in 2017 to offer more inclusive pathways into education by integrating arts into teaching to improve learning outcomes. The initiative was established as a response to the degenerating educational system in Nigeria. Five Cowries trains 50 teachers who directly support some 2,000 children annually. Through this initiative, they deliver programmes that improve education and that also engage our children with issues of social and global impact and importance of conservation, citizenship, health, migration and new technologies for pollution.


Collaborating with public, private and civil sector partners – including Phillips Consulting Limited (pcl.), the Five Cowries initiative is intentional about fusing the three Rs (3Rs) of primary education – reading, writing and arithmetic – with the four Cs (4Cs) – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.


The 2019 programme, “My Story of Water” is a collaborative arts program bringing children from Lagos with partners around the world, using art as a vehicle for social change. The initiative is creating awareness and helping children understand the importance of water, water pollution and the environmental crisis, which will, in turn, inspire creative ways to address the issues in the country.


The children were encouraged and empowered to express themselves and tell their stories about water using art by painting jerrycans, canoes, etc. About 1600 children from over 30 primary schools in Lagos and Ogun states took part in this project and produced an installation of 500 painted jerrycans. The students’ artworks are displayed at a public outdoor exhibition at Oxo Tower Wharf arcade from the 1st – 30th September alongside a photo exhibition of the project at City Hall, which will be open to the public from 3rd – 16th September.


An event was held in London last week to celebrate the successful execution of the project. Polly Alakija, the founder of Five Cowries initiative, explained the challenges young children experience in Nigeria regarding lack of water. Polly Alakija stated: “Everyday activities such as bathing and cooking have become chores for these children, they are constantly at risk of diseases caused by using dirty water”.

She went further to explain how the Art can be used to build confidence, numeracy and literature skills in students.


Phillips Consulting Limited (pcl.) representatives were also in attendance at the event in London. In appearance, where Rob Taiwo, Managing Director of Phillips Consulting Limited and Dele Phillips, Associate Partner of Phillips Consulting Limited.


As part of our commitment to drive inclusiveness and development in Nigeria, pcl. partnered with the Five Cowries initiative to deliver on this project “My Story of Water”.

pcl. supported the cause by helping to distribute art materials and “canvases” in the form of Jerry cans for The Five Cowries Arts Education Initiative. The pcl. team visited schools in Abeokuta, Ilaro, Aiyetoro and Ijebu-Ode in Ogun state to deliver the materials and support the kids during the creative sessions. We also distributed art supplies to about 30 schools across Lagos. The Five Cowries initiative is working to make the waterways in Lagos more effective for transportation. pcl. is acting as a strategic partner to help achieve this goal.


Also, in attendance at the event held in London were Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, Senior Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Diaspora and Foreign Relations, and Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, General Manager of Lagos State Waterways Authority. They are representatives of Five Cowries partners.


pcl. is proud to be part of this wonderful initiative by The Five Cowries.


Written by:

Tobi Lufadeju


Ore Ilori

Senior Analyst