For 35 years, Helmbridge Study Centre, Lagos has been impacting knowledge in the lives of secondary school students with its Science contest, which saw St. Gregoryâ€™s College wining at the weekend. Funmi Ogundare reports
Since 1982, Helmbridge Study Centre, a project of Educational Cooperation Society(ECS), a non government organisation managed by the Opus Dei ( an institution of the Catholic Church), has been organising a science challenge, designed to help secondary school students to be well grounded in the area of science and develop their study ability.
The Science challenge is a quiz contest, which runs for about 9 weeks, during which each schoolâ€™s representatives are tested in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and general knowledge.
For participating schools, there must be a team of students comprising 8 members; four SS two and four SS one , accompanied by a school official and a small group of supporters.
Over the years, schools that have participated in Helmbridge Science Challenge include: Kings College, Lagos, Birch Freeman High School Lagos, Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School, Air Force Secondary School Ikeja, Nigerian Navy Secondary School, the International School, University of Lagos, Methodist Boys High School Victoria Island.
Others are; St. Finbarrâ€™s College Akoka, St. Gregoryâ€™s College Obalende, Surulere Secondary School, Eric Moore High School Surulere, ADRAO International School, Atlantic Hall School, Mayday College, Top Grade Secondary School, Rainbow College for Boys, Ansar Uâ€™deen High School Surulere, and Gbaja Boys Grammar School, Antony.
For the 2017 edition of Helmbridge Science challenge which held at the weekend, 20 schools in Lagos participated and saw St. Gregoryâ€™s College, Obalende , clinching the first position at the finals. They got a cash prize of N250,000, trophy and certificate each for the team members.
The second position went to St. Michaelâ€™s Anglican College, Coker who received a cash prize of N75,000, a trophy and certificate for the members, while the third prize went to Yaba College of Technology Secondary School, Yaba. They go a cash prize of N50,000, trophy and certificate.
The Director of the Centre, Christopher Itua said the contest, aside testing their knowledge in academics, it is also aimed at testing their ability to reason.
He said so far, there have been people who had passed through the centre by participating in the contest and are still part of the competition, adding that it has enhanced their study over the years.
â€œSome of them told me they were studying morning and night and that they have been able to cover their syllabus and even went up to â€˜Aâ€™ levels. When you start studying, it remains with you there, such that when you start sitting for WAEC or UTME, it is nothing to you.
The person who is the time keeper at the 2017 edition, once participated in the science challenge and graduated with First Class in Chemical Engineering. It was the competition that brought them to limelight. In his set, the first time his school came, they won it and they won it consecutively for six times
. Three years ago, the secondary school he finished from participated in Lagos State JETS competition and they won it . They represented Lagos state in Abuja and they won it. It was the science challenge that prepared them. The school even wrote us a letter thanking us. It has spurred them to read so that when they get to the university, it will be the same thing . it helped the students to develop academically.
For us in Helmbridge, we donâ€™t really gain anything but what has been keeping us going is the success they have been achieving. That is we actually wanted.
Itua expressed concern that the country is not interested in investing in education yet but rather in music entertainment, saying â€œyou can see the budget of education, and see where we are going. Cowbell competition has become very popular , yet only N30,000 is only devoted to motivate its winnersâ€
He expressed optimism that by next year, it will have a better outing where corporate organisations would be able to sponsor the programme and make it steady.
â€œWe are approaching organisations for endowment funds and from old boys that have passed through the challenge . Catholic schools do well because people devote more time to it. If somebody is investing heavily in this kind of contest, there will be more participation but the country is not interested in education yet and that is what is affecting the society, â€the director stressed.
He congratulated the teams saying, â€œthey are very focused, we are giving the three teams who participated in the contest to also participate in other programmes we are organising.
Itua advised the parents to ensure they inculcate the right values in the children, while expressing concern that students these days, are not interested in studying.
â€œwhen you go to our school libraries, they are empty, because the boys, especially, are not interested in studying. For Helmbridge Study Centre, when the students finish their normal school, they come here to study and we guide the boys in the area of morals.â€
The Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Nnamdi Obi who supported the winners with cash prizes, expressed delight that with competition like this, there are no losers.
He however regretted that the country is not taking education seriously but rather invest more in musical concerts and entertainment.
â€œThat is why we cannot compete in the committee of nations because we donâ€™t attach importance to education. Nigeria will only progress if education is given a pride of place. Intellectual prowess is something you cannot buy on the shelf, â€he said
He thanked the teachers for doing a good job saying that inculcating in the students the right values is something that cannot be quantified in terms of naira and kobo.
â€œThey say teachers reward is in heaven, but it is right here on earth, so we must appreciate that.â€
He challenged the students to see people with intellectual capacity as role models, adding , â€œfor the students, what is important is not the money you will go home with, but among your peers, you have emerged victorious and have advertised your institution. That sends a message to your school that your parents have made very good investment in your education.â€
While congratulating the winners for making it to the finals, Obi said they can be what they want to be so far as they are serious in their academics, noting, â€œyou will succeed if you take your studies seriously. The success of this nation lies in your hands.
The Captain of St. Gregory College, Obalende, Master Charles Ogbogu who spoke on behalf of the team, expressed delight about his teamâ€™s success, adding that they had to work harder when they lost at the competition last year.
â€œWe started earlier because we know we will achieve what we want. It was through hardwork, it was painful but we thank God that we won.
â€œOur teachers also helped us to improve on our weaknesses . Our administrator also told us what it takes to be a winner and t the end of the day, victory was ours.â€
He advised the centre to give more publicity to the competition so that more people can participate .