In this interview with Uchechukwu Nnaike, the Brand Activation Manager, PZ Cussons Nigeria, Anaekwe Aishat Yetunde highlights the factors that motivated the brand to pursue and sustain the PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge in Lagos State for the past five years. She also reveals plans to expand the project and make it more attractive to students in the coming years
What would you describe as the major benefits of PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge to Nigeria’s education system?
The PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge is one of the many ways PZ Cussons Nigeria is giving back to the society. The poor adoption of sciences at secondary school level became a growing concern and its effect felt as the number of science graduates continued to dwindle. This led to the birth of the PZCCC and over the years since its inception we can say that the competition has handsomely rewarded many deserving students, and has brought about the adoption and application of Chemistry beyond the competition proper, we have other engagement activities we use to reach as many people as possible so they can see the true use and power of chemistry.
In addition, it is no news that we are currently one of the highest rewarding secondary school competitions across Nigeria, though our core target has been secondary schools in Lagos, nevertheless PZ Cussons is considering extending the competition beyond Lagos State
After the first edition of the chemistry challenge, a lot must have been outlined as your future plans for the competition, to what extent have you succeeded in implementing the plans?
At PZ Cussons, sustenance, innovation and consumer satisfaction are among our key motivators, this is evident in our over 100 years of existence in Nigeria. The PZCCC is no different; we strive to always make subsequent editions better than the previous by introducing novel and exciting activities with rewards to promote academic excellence especially in Chemistry as a subject.
What were the main challenges you faced while creating the Chemistry challenge project?
The major challenge we faced was getting the right number of students to register for the competition and actually sit for the test. This was expected as prior data had revealed to the PZCCC team that there was a growing phobia for Chemistry among students, but with the right communication and incentive for all participants, we were able to attract the right ‘crowd’.
How has the competition impacted your publics and what other dimensions will you want to introduce to deepen the programme in the coming years?
So far the impact of the competition on our primary and secondary targets has been impressive in fact we have recorded over 125 per cent increase in total reach since inception in 2013. Currently the PZCCC has rewarded four champions with over N700,000 each, which they have come back to tell us will be used to further their education. Our goal is to make PZCCC synonymous with Chemistry, such that whenever Chemistry is mentioned you immediately think PZCCC.
What do you think are the qualities that make a quiz competition reputable and respected?
Sustenance, integrity, objective driven and must have positive impact on both contending students and the entire community. Let us not forget that a good competition that seeks to promote education must be rewarding. These days we find entertainment competitions dishing out huge rewards, no wonder most children these days only want to sing or act. The PZCCC team also tested this and found it to be a fact, which was why we are among the pioneers of educational competitions that give out the highest rewards. Currently we are the highest rewarding educational competition in Lagos and we plan to replicate same across Nigeria in a few years to come.
What are the core values that shaped your actions in creating a reputable quiz contest like the PZ Chemistry Challenge?
Overall, PZ Cussons Nigeria is proud to be a pioneer of several CSR projects in Nigeria, cutting across different sectors of the economy. At PZ Cussons we are engineered to give back to society the best we can, the PZCCC is one of such ways. We take keen interest in how well we’ve been able to impact the society at large.
What mechanism has your organisation as sponsor put in place to monitor schools, participants and all other parties involved to ensure that the structure created for the programme is not compromised?
The affairs of the PZCCC is overseen by an advisory board led by a renowned professor of Chemistry, on his team are also experts in Chemistry and senior secondary school teachers. It doesn’t end there, the competition is also endorsed by the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Chemical Society of Nigeria, Institute of Chartered Chemist of Nigeria and a few other relevant bodies. These affiliates also assist in seeing to it that the competition maintains utmost integrity free of compromise.
What will be the focus and theme of the next edition of the chemistry challenge?
As always, the focus of the PZCCC is to be the number one platform that supports the learning of Chemistry in senior secondary schools.