In order to fast-track the socio-economic and technological development of the nation, Nigeria’s flagship oil and gas exploration and production company, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the world leading company in silicon innovation, technologies, products and initiatives, Intel Corporation, have challenged teachers and students in post primary schools across the country to show more interest and commitment to the teaching and learning of science-related subjects.
Both leading companies in their areas of concern, threw the bold challenge while speaking as major sponsors of the Sixth Nigerian Secondary Schools Science Fair and Quiz Competition at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Nkporlu, Port Harcourt, recently.
Shell General Manager, Social Performance and Community Affairs, Mr Tony Attah, who dissected the multinational oil and gas company’s huge investments in the education sector, especially in promoting science education in the country, and the Niger Delta region in particular, said only sustained efforts at teaching, learning and understanding the core sciences would put Nigeria on the right pedestal to jump-start its development aspirations in a technology-driven age.
Represented at the two-day event by the Manager, Social Performance and Sustainable Community Development, Mr Emeka Obi, he said that it was to encourage the realization of this vision that Shell initiated programmes, more than 50 years ago, to enhance the study and acquisition of science-laden knowledge and skills at post primary and tertiary levels of education in Nigeria.
The Shell manager noted that this has resulted in the sponsorship of 2,700 new secondary school and 850 university students every year, and a total 12,000 secondary school and 2,000 undergraduate scholarships annually.
According to him, Shell is also helping to boost education in Nigeria through the provision of school blocks, furniture, libraries, laboratories, and other initiatives, in addition to the practical, hands-on Shell Intensive Training Programme (SITP) to facilitate employment for university and polytechnic graduates in the strategic oil and gas industry.
He stated that in order to speedy up the deployment and application of modern technologies and scientific modules in the development process, Shell, Intel, the Education Trust Fund (ETF) and other stakeholders have collaborated to develop a web-based science and mathematics programme to boost information and communication technology (ICT) education in secondary school in the country.
In addition, he noted that the Nigerian Secondary Schools Science Fair and Quiz Competition was a rewarding initiative of the SPDC JV, Intel, ISED and CINFORES, to elevate interest and enhance performance in science subjects in the education system, and tasked stakeholders in the sector, especially state governments, teachers and students to key into the various initiatives aimed at advancing education standard in Nigeria.
Also speaking, Corporate Affairs Manager, Intel West Africa, Mr Olubunmi Ekundare, said with the initiative, the world leading silicon technology company has continued to fulfill its major objective of ensuring that quality education, particularly in mathematics, science and engineering is moved to the fore front of the development of education, which he noted was in line with the Federal Government’s Vision 202020 goal.
Ekundare stressed that the partnership with SPDC JV and the ETF to align secondary schools curriculum through the web-based skooolnigeria and brainfriendnigeria programme templates for teaching and learning was in tandem with Intel’s global World Ahead Initiative, conceived to connect the next billion people to uncompromised technology around the world, adding that with this, “Intel seeks to empower people to live better lives and reach their full potential”.
The corporate affairs manager pledged the readiness of Intel to strengthen its partnership with stakeholders to improve the standard of teaching and learning in schools, and implored both teachers and students in secondary schools across the nation to take advantage of the initiative to broaden interest and encourage robust and excellent performance in the school system, adding that science education was key to the nation’s greatness.
In his remarks, Executive Director, ISED, Dr Jerry Orhue, recalled that from a humble beginning in 2004, the Nigerian Secondary Schools Science Fair and Quiz Competition has become a melting point for the convergence and discovery of best talents and brains in science and engineering development in Nigeria.
Dr Orhue, noted that amazing whiz kids and youthful scientists discovered from the series of exhibitions and contests across the country have turned out to be world-class inventors and innovators, and stunning the scientific world with their creativity and courage.
He charged the students to relentlessly challenge their creative abilities even in the face of daunting impossibilities in order to excel, adding that if they explore further with determination to satisfy their curiosities, they could transform to be the world best.