With a huge investment in education, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, in a joint venture with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, aside addressing Sustainability Development Goal 4 through its Pearls Quiz Challenge, is also training teachers and Chief Inspectors of Education as part of efforts to continue to deepen its drive for quality education in Edo and Delta States. Adibe Emenyonu reports
In 2012, SEPLAT had a Joint Venture (JV) partnership with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to inspire excellence in students of public and private secondary schools in their host states.
The organisation has through the PEARLs Quiz initiative, provided scholarships to 63 students, executed projects valued at over N30 million in more than eight schools, given out four brand new 16-seater buses, as well as consolation prizes to the last seven schools every year since inception.
The organisation recently concluded the quiz challenge, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme in its host states- Edo and Delta.
The 2020 edition commenced over six months ago when a total of 574 schools started vying to reach the much-coveted final stage of the competition. After rounds of rigorous and challenging stages of the competition, four schools emerged and advanced to the last step. St. Michael College, Benin City, Edo State and Mc Nell Academy Secondary School, Sapele, Delta State competed for the first and second place trophies; while St. John’s Academy, Oleh, Delta State and Gloryland Secondary School, Igarra, Edo State, vied for the third place.
It was excitement all the way at the Imaguero College Hall in Benin City, which was filled with students and dignitaries from different apparatus of the government of both states and select community leaders. The four schools held the audience spellbound with their exhilarating performance.
St. Michael College, Benin City emerged the overall winner of the competition, while Mc Nell Academy Secondary School, Sapele, Delta State and Gloryland Secondary School, Igarra, Edo State, emerged second and third positions respectively.
The thrilled schools and students went home with exciting prizes with the first prize school winning N7 million project-based cash and N100,000 scholarship to the three students that represented the school. The second prize of N3 million project-based cash and N75,000 scholarship went to the school and three winning students respectively. The third prize of N1 million project-based cash and N50,000 scholarship went to the school and three winning students respectively. Teachers of all qualifying schools were not left out, as they also got attractive prizes.
In his remarks, the SEPLAT CEO, Roger Brown expressed delight that through the programme, 45,140 students have been positively impacted.
He added that many schools’ infrastructures have received a boost with projects such as language laboratory, three roofing projects, block of classrooms, interlocking stones for entire school premises designed to stave off erosion, five computer laboratories deployed in different schools and four brand new school buses, among others.
According to him, “this programme rekindles the spirit of academic excellence and healthy competition in our youths by motivating, encouraging and rewarding the scholarship spirit in them as they inculcate the principles of teamwork and hard work.”
The General Manager, External Affairs and Communications at SEPLAT, Dr. Chioma Nwachuku, said the quiz competition was designed to rekindle the spirit of healthy competition in youths by motivating, encouraging and rewarding the ethos of scholarship while providing them the right platform to prepare for their examinations.
Little wonder that students in Delta and Edo States have maintained high pass rates in external examinations such as the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
She noted that promoting educational excellence remains a cardinal objective of SEPLAT, hence the various educational programmes in its host communities.
Nwachuku said the outcome over the years had shown the need to encourage the students to continue their display of brilliance, intelligence and talents.
She commended the schools and students that participated in this year’s quiz; despite the prevailing pandemic, noting that the turnout showed the resilience and can-do spirit for which the SEPLAT PEARLs quiz participants are known for.
“In deploying the programme this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to become innovative and had all the schools write the qualification test online with Seplat providing data for all. Five hundred and seventy-four schools took the test, and 104 (52 from both states) progressed to the next round.”
The NPDC official, Mr. Efifia Chu, Deputy Manager, SEPLAT JV, thanked all participants for taking advantage of the SEPLAT PEARLs Quiz which promotes a critical Sustainable Development Goal and promotes healthy competition among students.
As part of efforts to continue to improve on its corporate social responsibility and deepen its drive for quality education, the organisation also trained 100 teachers and 43 Chief Inspectors of Education (CIEs).
The beneficiary teachers and CIEs were drawn from secondary schools in Delta and Edo States where the company operates.
The training which comes under the company’s education programme, was targeted at secondary school teachers tagged, ‘SEPLAT Teachers Empowerment Programme (STEP).
It is an initiative aimed at promoting teachers’ creative thinking, allow for higher student engagement and to also offer a well-rounded education for recipients of the programme.
The programme was a five-day residential workshop introductory phase that will kick-off a six-month programme specifically designed for teachers by providing them training on teaching applications for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), as well as leadership and self-improvement training.
Speaking at the end of the training workshop in Benin City, Brown said the company has invested significantly in the various educational programmes as part of its CSR which support Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4) because of the strong belief that education is the bedrock of any national growth.
According to him, “worldwide, having a team of competent teachers is a critical success factor for achieving quality education.
“Our STEP programme therefore aims to enhance teachers’ competencies and empower them with the knowledge and skills to deploy STEAM, among other benefits.”
He noted that the STEAM education is crucial in creating a strong educational foundation for students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
Brown also disclosed that the first set of Seplat trained teachers will graduate by first quarter of next year, adding that 389 teachers from schools in Edo and Delta States sat for the qualifying test online and a total of 100 were selected to be trained with 75 per cent from public schools and 25 per cent from private schools.
Earlier in a her opening speech, Nwachuku expressed delight with the valuable role the firm is playing to enhance the quality of education with the many programmes lined up through its CSR initiatives.
She said with this, the organisation now has series of events lined up to address the entire value chain, pointing out that a total of 100 teachers and 43 CIEs from the host states were beneficiaries of the maiden edition.
“Our programmes now cover improving school infrastructure, enhancing academic performance of students and building the skills and competencies of teacher,” Nwachuku said.
Also, officials of Edo and Delta States Ministry of Education who were present, spoke glowingly of Seplat, and expressed their willingness to collaborate with the organisation on all its education programmes because of the multiplier effects it would have on secondary education.
Highlight of the event was the distribution of lPad to each of the trained teachers and CIEs.