Seplat Energy: Building Capacity in Education Sector through Teacher, School Empowerment

Determined to equip teachers with skills to thrive in the 21st century learning environment, Seplat Energy recently graduated 271 beneficiaries of the 2022/2023 edition of the Seplat Teachers Empowerment Programme, launched in 2020 in Edo and Delta States. Uchechukwu Nnaike reports

Today’s realities have made the call for school, teacher and student empowerment germane and justifiable given the falling standard of education in the country. 

This sort of empowerment encompasses learning, teaching and leadership in the sector. These interventions don’t only impact the education system with respect to teachers’ welfare and development, but also have major economic impacts on the country.

Over the years, Nigeria has witnessed a decline in the standard of education and the level of academic excellence, a situation mostly attributed to poor attitude of students towards their academics. 

The saying “to whom more is given, more is expected,” especially comes into play as it concerns teachers’ welfare and teachers’ empowerment in the country. 

The ‘hidden’ disease of the country’s education sector is said to stem from the poor motivation of teachers.

Apart from funding, teachers’ empowerment also implies the training of teachers to become better at their responsibilities; providing them with better learning experiences and resources to improve their creativity, providing them with better work environment and impacting on their personality and professional methods are all few ways of empowering teachers for them to grow and be able to generously give back quality education to their students. 

That is where Seplat Energy has made another giant stride towards improving the standard of education in the country. 

In 2020, the company launched the Seplat Teachers Empowerment Programme (STEP); an initiative for enhancing teachers’ competence for effective teaching. The programme was designed to train teachers on a model built on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), as well as leadership and self-improvement.

The structure of STEP involves a three-month intensive training programme created for teachers to enhance competencies and empower them with the knowledge and skills to implement STEAM education. The programme kicks off with a four-day residential workshop which provides leadership and self-improvement training, training on STEAM modules and its application to teaching. The teachers are also provided with STEAM gadgets and apps to support their delivery of quality teaching in our host states. Teachers are the critical success factor for the STEAM model, thus Seplat has been empowering them with the STEAM knowledge and skill sets to enable them deliver.

On April 14, 2023, the company held the graduation ceremony for the beneficiaries of the 2022/2023 session of the STEP initiative. The event was accompanied with an education roundtable and the Seplat Teachers’ Empowerment Programme (STEP) award ceremony was for 271 beneficiaries, comprising 260 teachers and 11 CIEs. 

The STEP initiative by Seplat Energy builds teachers’ competencies to teach the STEAM model of learning to secondary schools students to promote their creative thinking abilities, allow for higher student engagement, and offer a well-rounded education where Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics are equal contributors to the process of learning. 

The programme provides teachers with access to STEAM learning through workshops and a customised e-platform with a collection of STEAM resources that teachers can access on a free device provided by Seplat Energy.

In her remarks, the Director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Seplat Energy Plc, Dr. Chioma Nwachuku, said secondary school teachers in public and private schools in the company’s host states were open to benefiting from the laudable programme. 

According to her, the STEP programme has been enormously impactful in touching over 25,000 students within its third year. It has recorded a total of 634 beneficiaries, which comprise 574 teachers and 60 Chief Inspectors of Education (CIEs). 

Over the years, Seplat Energy has invested significantly in other educational Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes such as the PEARLS quiz competition to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Number 4, which promotes education for all.

The Director, New Energy, Seplat Energy, Effiong Okon, who commended the Edo and Delta State governments for providing a conducive business environment for the company, said Seplat’s new energy focus ties strongly to “the sustainability programmes in our host states and Nigeria at large”. 

Okon added: “Seplat Energy crave for innovation and excellence as it continues to empower teachers and CIEs, and remains committed to celebrating the success stories of the benefiting teachers as well as the students that are being impacted.”

To commemorate the certificate presentation ceremony, Seplat Energy hosted a chat session to further deliberate on the role of technology for quality education aligning with the theme of the Education Roundtable, ‘Transforming the Education Workforce’. The roundtable, which had tech professionals, educational and technological experts and officials was highly engaging. The panelists comprised the Dr. Chioma Nwachuku, Director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Seplat Energy; Mr. Yinka Akibu; M&E Specialist, UNDP Spotlight Initiative; Kemi Sokenu-Morris, Chairman of the Executive Council, Sustainability Professionals Institute of Nigeria (SPIN); Audrey Odogu, Philanthropies Lead, Microsoft; and Birghitta Eno Okodugha, Permanent Secretary, Information Communications Technology Agency, Edo State. The session was moderated by Dr. Mories Atoki, Chief Executive Officer, African Business Coalition for Health.

 Whilst delivering the Keynote, the Edo state Commissioner for Education Dr. Joan Oviawe assures that “technology remains critical to transforming the education workforce and that the 21st century interaction between teachers and students could be massively impacted and boosted leveraging the right technologies and methods.”

She called for project-based and competency-based learning approaches in schools, adding that: “Our teachers must become technologically-savvy at this time. Data gathering has become very key now and technology provides the right platforms. It is a new era and we are in a new world. Thanks to Seplat Energy and its partners for leading this journey.”

The Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Delta State Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Augustine Oghoro, commended Seplat for its people-focus initiatives, saying the interventions were timely given the need for teachers and students to be equipped with relevant skills to become global champions. 

Speaking on the company’s commitment to sustainability of the programme, Nwachuku said: “We strongly believe that education is the bedrock for national development and our STEP deployment aims to enhance teachers’ competencies and empower them with the knowledge and skills to implement STEAM education, amongst other benefits. Seplat Energy is committed to providing this programme annually because of its relevance and positive multiplier effects on boosting quality education.”

Seplat Energy has continued to drive positive change in the Nigerian educational sector with a strong bias for innovation and technological progress. The company equally crave for the appropriate application of same to schooling, as new competencies could become game-changers for the country and the Nigerian people. With the Seplat Teachers Empowerment Programme, Seplat Energy boosts value creation in the country’s education sector for the realisation of quality education.

The occasion was also used to launch the Seplat Innovation Initiative to donate well-equipped STEAM laboratories to schools to promote a learning environment where students can participate actively in hands-on, practical STEAM learning. The goal is to unleash students’ potential and assist them in developing their Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Art skills by using technology to create, collaborate and complete projects. The STEAM laboratory, supported by solar energy, has internet access to provide the teachers with a technology-enhanced learning environment to support project-based learning for their students. Seplat STEAM laboratory is designed to help students learn how to work as part of a team, solve problems and apply their knowledge in advanced and creative ways.

The company commenced the initiative with the donation of a well-equipped laboratory firstly to Ihogbe College, Benin City, Edo State. It will extend to more schools in the state and Delta.

Speaking at the event, Nwachuku noted that, as a company, Seplat distinguishes itself by implementing distinct educational initiatives to support achieving quality education for students and teachers in its states of operation.

“Seplat is excited that the STEAM laboratories will further strengthen the application of STEAM learning that the company has continued to promote in schools through the STEP. She affirmed that the STEAM laboratory would create a student-centred learning environment, focusing on developing their skills and connecting the STEAM subject areas while preparing them for future careers and the real world”.

The Principal of Ihogbe College, Johnson Egharevda, expressed the excitement of the entire school as he remarked that his students have also attended Seplat-organised competitions, noting that three of the school’s STEP-trained teachers have developed power banks based on knowledge gained STEP.

Selecting schools to qualify for the STEAM laboratory donation entails a competitive process. There will be a periodic review of schools of STEP-trained teachers to choose from those who display utilisation of their learnings at the STEP programme to create remarkable positive learning outcomes for their schools and students in their respective schools. Seplat is pleased to note that the STEP-trained teachers at the first school to receive the STEAM lab, Ihogbe College, Benin City, had, despite a relative lack of infrastructure at the school, demonstrated outstanding achievement by applying their learning. These teachers of Ihogbe College, who were beneficiaries of the Seplat Teachers Empowerment Programmes, put into practice the knowledge gained in the STEP programme by designing and producing a Power bank utilising the STEAM principles.

Seplat Energy has continued to validate its commitment to quality education through its flagship educational programmes for schools and teachers. The company pledges to ensure the sustenance of this new initiative and donation of STEAM laboratories to schools through monitoring and provision of support required for the efficient running of the facility.

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