SEPLAT holds quiz competition, empowers Delta, Edo teachers through STEP

IN the bid to promote harmony between it and its host communities in Edo and Delta states, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, SEPLAT, in a Joint Venture (JV) partnership with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, has embarked on a number of projects and programmes to improve the living standards of the people in the host communities.

The programmes are designed in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. SDGs, 4 and one of which is the annual PEARLs Quiz Competition. The competition, which started in 2012, is aimed at promoting and rewarding academic excellence as well as improving the quality of education among students in private and public secondary schools in Edo and Delta states.

SEPLAT has through the PEARLs Quiz initiative, also provided scholarship awards to 63 students, implemented 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. Recently, the organization, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, programme, held this year’s edition of the competition despite the challenges posed by the outbreak of Corona virus disease in the country and its effects on the education sector.

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 rigorous and challenging stages of the competition, four schools emerged and advanced to the last stage.

The schools were St. Michael College, Benin City, Edo State and Mc Nell Academy Secondary School, Sapele, Delta State, who slugged it out for the first and second place trophies and St. John’s Academy, Oleh, Delta State and Gloryland Secondary School, Igarra, Edo State, that vied for the third place.

The venue for the final round was Imaguero College Hall in Benin City which was filled with students and dignitaries from different tiers of the government of both states and select community leaders.

The four schools held the audience spellbound with their great performances and at the end of the day, St. Michael College, Benin City, Edo State, emerged the overall winner of the competition; while Mc Nell Academy Secondary School, Sapele, Delta State and Gloryland Secondary School, Igarra, Edo State, clinched the second and third positions respectively.

The victorious schools and students went home with exciting prizes with the school that came first winning N7 million project-based cash and N100,000 scholarship grant to the three students that represented the school.

The second prize of N3 million project-based cash and N75,000 scholarship grant, went to the second place school and its three students. The third prize of N1 million project-based cash and N50,000 scholarship grant went to the school that came third.

Teachers of all qualifying schools, were not left out as they got attractive prizes. In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of   SEPLAT, Roger Brown, expressed delight that through the programme, 45,140 students had been positively impacted. He added that many schools had benefited through the provision of infrastructure and 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 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.

Impressively, little wonder that students in Delta and Edo States have maintained very high pass rates in external examinations such as the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC. 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 which 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. 574 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 healthy competition among students.

Also speaking at the event, many representatives of government thanked SEPLAT for instituting and sustaining the competition and their consistency in organizing the annual PEARLs Quiz.

Helping teachers to be better

Since teachers are critical stakeholders in the education sector, SEPLAT has also seen the need to assist in making them perform better on their job. In that regard, it has flagged off an  educational programmer tagged,  SEPLAT Teachers Empowerment Programme STEP.

The initiative aims to promote teacher’s creative thinking, allow for higher student engagement, as well as offer a well-rounded education for recipients of the programme.

The maiden edition included a five-day residential workshop introductory phase, which kick started a six-month programme specially designed for teachers to provide them training on teaching applications for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, STEAM, as well as leadership and self-improvement training.

The training, according to the company, would continue online over a period of six months with teachers receiving customized training modules on efficient pedagogical methods for STEAM education, as well as leadership and self-improvement training.

Speaking at the ceremony as a Special Guest, Rt. Hon. Marcus Onobun, the Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, commended SEPLAT and its partner, NPDC, for investing in the SEPLAT Teachers Empowerment Programme, STEP, initiative. Onobun said the move would not only impact the 100 teachers and 43 Chief Inspectors of Education, but would go a long way to advancing the fortunes of Edo and Delta children, as well as expose them to contemporary developments and make them globally competitive.

The Speaker, however, called on other oil multinationals to emulate SEPLAT so as to boost the educational standard of the children who are the leaders of tomorrow.

Similarly, the CEO of SEPLAT, Mr Roger Brown, stated that SEPLAT had invested significantly in various educational CSR programmes which support SDGs Goal 4. “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 education, amongst other benefits. “STEAM education is crucial in creating a strong educational foundation for students pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

SEPLAT is committed to providing this programme annually because of its relevance”. Earlier in her address, Dr Nwachukwu said a total of 100 teachers and 43 Chief Inspectors of Education (CIEs) drawn from Edo and Delta were benefiting from the maiden edition.

”SEPLAT is delighted with the invaluable role the company is playing with enhancing the quality of education with the many educational programmes offered through the company’s CSR initiatives”.

She noted that with the STEP programme, the company now has a full store of programmes to address the entire education value chain. “Our programmes now cover improving school infrastructure, enhancing academic performance of students and building the skills and competencies of teachers.

The company recently concluded another flagship educational programme, SEPLAT PEARLs Quiz, which had 574 participating schools drawn from Edo and Delta states,” she said.

Meanwhile, officials of the Edo State Ministry of Education, Edo State Ministry of Science and Technology and the Delta State Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, have   expressed their delight to collaborate with SEPLAT on the initiative.

This, they said, was in view of the multiplier effects it would have on secondary school education, adding that SEPLAT would be graduating the first set of teachers from the STEP initiative by the first quarter of 2021.

No fewer than 389 teachers from schools in Edo and Delta sat for the qualifying test online in September, where 100 teachers were selected from secondary schools evenly across the two states. Of the 100 teachers, 75 per cent were from public schools, while 25 per cent were from private school.